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From a developing country to Oxford University

By Mahnoor Nadeem

Want to do big things yet don't where to start? Always a high achiever yet too scared to take the next step? This might be the case for many people with big dreams and I was no different. I had a particular research interest and a professor whose work I had always found fascinating. I never thought it possible that I could work with him. For 5 years I dreamed of just meeting the professor at a conference somewhere in the world. Having never set foot out of my own country (Pakistan) I could never have imagined how life would turn out to be. I worked hard, kept on dreaming and finally gained the courage to send an email to the professor, and what happened next was truly a dream moment. I got a reply, a positive one, then an interview, followed by my official application being sent to Oxford. Today I sit in the lab of the same professor and cannot help but feel thankful that I get to do my DPhil under the supervision of a person whose work I found interesting when I was midway through my undergrad degree.

Being an international student at Oxford, I feel like the charm can never waver (I assume it might be the case for majority of the Oxford students whether national or international). It makes me emotional and I have cried thankful tears on various occasions; be it while being lost in the charms of the centuries-old architecture around Oxford, observing the culture here or seeing the Harry Potter fantasies coming true, it is all dreamlike and magical. I am so thankful that I took the leap, applied here and worked hard each day to reach where I am today. It is truly a blessing to be here, to know the amazing discoveries that are being made and to be a tiny little part of the experiences and the numerous wonderful things that make up the University of Oxford.

I am so grateful to “That Oxford Girl” for being a great insight to Oxford before coming here. Despite this being my first time in Oxford (even the UK or anywhere outside my home country), I did not feel like a stranger here. I had read and reread every blog, every piece of guidance and seen every video that introduced Oxford to aspiring applicants. It was no doubt a tough journey and a long series of events that led to finally reaching Oxford but I feel that it was made easier by this wonderful platform.

Reading DPhil at Oxford was my biggest dream which seemed like a far-fetched fantasy at times and even now that it has come true, I feel like pinching myself on various occasions to check whether I am still dreaming. I guess I will continue to be in a state of ecstasy as long as I am here. In a very short time, Oxford has become home. This place gives me joy that warms my heart and an inner voice hums a line I always wished I could truly sing and mean it; “I am not running anymore, cause I already know, I’m home”.

If you dream of it, please work hard for it, every bit of effort counts and believe me, it is all truly worth it.


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