Abi: New College Undergraduate
I applied to Oxford because I wanted a world-class education, but I also loved how beautiful the city was and the comforting community feel offered by the college system.
A huge part of my decision to apply was the amazing support I received from the Seren Network. Without the scheme I wouldn’t have had the confidence to apply nor the ability to make a competitive application; I was provided with personal statement, BMAT and interview advice that I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise. I was initially hesitant to commit to Oxford but in hindsight I’m so glad that I did!
New College is one of the biggest and most beautiful colleges, but the best thing about it is the people. I’ve met the most incredible, kind-hearted and hilarious individuals who I can’t imagine a world without. Coming to Oxford is a big adjustment for everyone, and I found the transition to English strange after being educated in Welsh my whole life. It can seem isolating at first, but that feeling goes away very quickly- the University’s Welsh Society is a great way to get a taste of home and to meet other students just like you.
Rhodri: Israddedig, Coleg Newydd
Tref Enedigol: Caerdydd
Gradd: Gwyddorau Biofeddygol
Ymgeisiais i Rydychen oherwydd roeddwn i’n hoffi strwythur a phynciau’r cwrs, ac roedd yn ymddangos fel her academaidd wych. Elwais o’r Rhwydwaith Seren, gan roddodd y cyfle i mi gymryd rhan yn yr ysgol haf Yale Young Global Scholars (ar-lein oherwydd y pandemig), ac es i i ddarlithoedd am ddatganiadau personol ac arholiadau mynediad Rhydgrawnt.
Dwi’n caru Coleg Newydd, mae’r bobl mor hyfryd a dwi’n sicr mai dyma yw’r coleg fwyaf prydferth! Mae cerdded o gwmpas y clwysty (yn y ffilmiau Harry Potter) neu i’r gerddi hardd yn ffordd wych i gymryd egwyl o astudio. Fy hoff bethau erbyn hyn yw’r ymarferion rhwyfo am 6am a’r digwyddiadau tei du, mae gan Rydychen nifer enfawr o gyfleoedd i gwrdd â phobl newydd a chymryd rhan mewn pethau hollol newydd!
Dylsai myfyrwyr Cymreig ymgeisio i Goleg Newydd ac i Rydychen yn gyffredinol oherwydd yr holl profiadau anhygoel - rhai academaidd a chymdeithasol. Yn ogystal, bydd gennych y cyfle i greu ffrindiau â phobl o ledled y DU a gweddill y byd, ond gallech chi o hyd cwrdd â chyd-fyfyrwyr o Gymru yng Nghymdeithas Dafydd ap Gwilym, cymdeithas Gymraeg y prifysgol.
Jamie: New College: Post-Graduate Student
I’m a third year DPhil student in Physical and Theoretical Chemistry at New College. I come from Pontyberem, a village in rural Carmarthenshire, and I attended a Welsh-medium secondary school, Maes y Gwendraeth. Prior to my doctoral studies, which focus on the chemistry underlying the ability of birds to utilise the Earth’s magnetic field to aid orientation during migration, I was also an undergraduate Chemistry student at St Anne’s College, Oxford.
I was motivated to apply to Oxford as an undergraduate by the wide range of topics that the Chemistry course covers, in addition to the final year comprising a whole year in a research laboratory. Oxford also offers an excellent environment to undertake graduate study, with state-of-the-art research facilities and an extremely broad range of expertise and interests both within the Chemistry department and the university as a whole. Additionally, the department has strong links with collaborators from around the world, providing many opportunities for highly interdisciplinary research.
One of the many advantages of Oxford is the college system where the majority of undergraduate tutorials take place. New College provides a thriving middle common room (MCR) for graduate members to meet one another and discuss mutual interests, both academic and personal. The committee organises a number of events including a termly academic soiree, where members give overviews of their research interests, and exchange formals with other colleges, which allow you to explore the sights of Oxford. The college has transitioned very efficiently to hosting activities online during COVID and their support and excellent communication with all students during these trying times is to be commended.
There is a slice of home available for Welsh students here, in the form of the Welsh society, Cymdeithas Dafydd ap Gwilym. The society arranges a large variety of events during the year including a Welsh whisky tasting ice-breaker, a St David’s Day dinner, and a Trinity term Eisteddfod, as well as number of communal football and rugby evenings. The society, for which I served as Secretary, prides itself on providing a warm a friendly atmosphere to all students from Wales, irrespective of their proficiency in Welsh.
Georgie: New College Graduate
Home Town: Cardiff
Degree: Biomedical Sciences (Neuroscience)
My time at New College has been amazing. Any worries quickly disappeared as soon as I experienced the welcoming community. I feel extremely lucky to study in such a wonderful environment with incredibly supportive tutors and students. New College has given me the opportunity to gain so many new experiences, some that I could never have imagined before, including learning to row with the college boat club and attending events like the fresher’s evensong in our stunning chapel.
Whilst being Welsh in Oxford is certainly a unique experience (you will get some accent questions!), it’s one that I certainly wouldn’t change. Through the University’s Welsh Society, I regularly socialise with fellow Welsh students and have made new friends. New College has made my experience so enjoyable, and you will feel part of the tight-knit community in no time. If you’ve got the dream, desire and ambition, go for it – you won’t regret it!
Lleucu: New College Graduate
Degree: English Language & Literature
At age 17, I was an ordinary Welsh first language student in the sixth form of Ysgol Dyffryn Teifi in Llandysul, in west Wales. My home life, my school life, and my social life was almost entirely in Welsh. The Welsh language rock scene was in full swing with lots of great gigs and festivals so the language was all around me.
And I had two English teachers who were inspirational and brilliant. They both helped me and my classmates develop our love of reading and literature; a love rooted in curiosity and creativity. It was they who encouraged me to apply for Oxford. I knew a lot about Ireland and France but not much about England other than the occasional trip to London. Oxford was something else - the buildings and the famous dreaming spires – and New College with its gorgeous gardens and cloister were particularly magic.
For a Welsh country girl, class, background, accent counted for nothing so I wasn’t intimidated. I didn’t really know what a ‘posh’ accent sounded like and Oxford didn’t impact one bit on accent and my rolling ‘rrrr’s. I found it easy in New College to make friends, almost all of them from comprehensive schools. Although our backgrounds were very different, they are still among my closest friends. These differences are to be celebrated and New College made a real effort to promote diversity.
I am very conscious of the privilege I had at Oxford. Not only did I study great literature with some of highly regarded scholars, I also discussed and debated politics and art, music and fashion and films, over coffees and pints with great friends. Studying at Oxford gives you more than a degree and a taste for books. It makes you critical and it challenges your mind.
By the way, I’m now Chief Executive of Literature Wales, the national company for the development of literature in Wales. Just the job for me. Thank you New College – Diolch yn fawr Coleg Newydd, Rhydychen.
David: New College Graduate
I first visited Oxford on an open-day organised for Welsh students when I was at school and, to be honest, that day put me off at first.
I remember a talk by a student who was everything I expected Oxford to be - elitist and patronising. But, encouraged by a group of friends, I applied anyway; I didn’t think I had anything to lose.
I chose New College because it was a big college and so I thought it might be easier to make friends. I had the best three years at New and it’s where I made some of my closest friends. Being Welsh was never an issue. In fact, I quickly stumbled across people who came from towns close to where I’d grown up.
My time at Oxford shaped me significantly as a person and it opened doors to my current career in law. Looking back, that open-day was an anomaly - please don’t be put off by a bad experience or assume that it represents the entire University. Don’t tell yourself that Oxford is not “for people like me”. It demands academic rigour and can be intense at times, but it is the most wonderful and open place to study - Welsh or otherwise.
I am now a Partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP.
Freyja: Academic Registrar at New College
Degree: English Language & Literature (Jesus College, Cambridge)
Ironically I came to Oxford just after deciding not to pursue my own academic career. I had turned down a PhD place at Cambridge and was working in London, running exams for the Royal College of Surgeons. I knew I was ready for a change, so when my partner was offered a place on a postgraduate course at Oxford, I accepted an Admissions Officer post at Exeter College and moved with him. I spent an invaluable year there learning about the University and Higher Education, before moving to New College, where I spent the next two years working in Admissions and Outreach. After that, I took over as New College’s Academic Registrar.
I really enjoy the varied nature of my current role. My job involves both student support and academic administration so I end up working across lots of different areas including exams, academic recruitment, and student welfare, to name a few. I’m also the College’s Disability Support Co-Ordinator and EDI Officer.
I’ve loved my time at New College so far. Working here has taught me so much about the Higher Education Sector, and about what I want from my career. I believe we benefit hugely from the large size of our college community – there are so many fascinating people to be found amongst the academics, staff, and students (including some wonderful Welsh ones).
As much as I adore living in Oxford there’s always part of me which will think of Wales as home. Happily it’s a relatively short drive back across the Bridge to Cardiff, where my family still live. That said, I’m always thrilled to discover traces of Wales in Oxford, from the Welsh Male Voice Choir singing on St David’s Day, to watching the Six Nations in one of the many pubs.
Daniel: Head of Outreach & Communications at New College
Degree: Geography (Jesus College, Oxford)
I came to Oxford as an Undergraduate in 2001. As I went to a comprehensive school without a sixth form, I didn’t really think about University until I was in the first year of my A-Levels; it took me long enough to work out what subjects I wanted to study for A-level!
I hadn’t considered applying to Oxford as, although I always worked hard at school, I didn’t think that I was clever enough. However, after doing well in Year 12, and then visiting Oxford for the University’s Open Day, I began to think that it was a realistic and potentially achievable ambition. Realistically, what did I have to lose?
I studied Geography at Jesus College, Oxford, and had a wonderful time learning about a subject that I loved (and still do). I really felt like I was being given a first-class education, whilst also having a fantastic student experience. During my time at Oxford, I happened to make several friends who were also Welsh, but coming to Oxford provided me with a chance to meet people from all over the UK as well.
I moved back to Wales after graduating, and spent seven years working as a secondary school teacher in two very different comprehensive schools. After this, I moved back to Oxfordshire to teach in an academy here, before moving to New College in 2016.
I love working at New College, and thoroughly enjoy being a part of the College’s caring community. We take the field of outreach particularly seriously, and am proud of the work that we are doing as part of our Step-Up Programme as well as the Oxford Cymru Consortia.
Although I do miss Wales, my family, and the sea and coastal scenery, I definitely feel at home in Oxford and am excited to see our Welsh Community in New College grow. Even our friendly Porters welcome me in the morning by saying ‘Bore Da’; little things like that can mean a lot.
Shelby: Outreach Officer
Degree: English Language and Literature (Trinity College, Oxford)
I have always lived in North Wales, with my mother’s side of the family originally coming from Anglesey. I first came to Oxford when I was 14. My family provided fairground rides for the St Giles Fair that takes place in the city, so we would visit every September. I remember admiring the beautiful architecture, seeing students everywhere, and thinking how cool it would be to live and work here. It was only later that I realised Oxford University was best in the world for my subject (as well as many others!).
I came to Trinity College in 2012 for my degree and had an absolute ball. I was afraid that I wouldn’t fit in at Oxford, as no one in my family has gone through formal education before. It turned out it didn’t matter one bit about my background, I settled in very quickly and felt right at home. There was so much to do, from listening to amazing speakers, picking up new hobbies, trying new sports (I tried fencing, croquet, and ballroom dancing all in my first term!) as well as getting stuck in with my academic work. I made so many friends for life within my first week here. I took great joy in inviting them over the summer to Wales, as some of them had never visited before. We went to Conwy Castle, visited local beaches, and I got to introduce them to Welsh cakes!
I’m very proud to work for New College as Outreach Officer. It’s been lovely to work with our Step-Up students and show them what Oxford is all about. We have a number of Welsh schools on our Step-Up programme, so it is always nice to be able to show them that there is strong Welsh representation here! Oxford is home for me now, but I go back to North Wales every couple of weeks as my family still live there. You may move away from Wales (like me) but it doesn’t make you any less Welsh. Cymru am byth!