by Coral Kim
Are you an international student applying to Oxford? If yes, and you are like me (i.e. extremely awkward in Skype video calls), you’re may be thinking of traveling to the UK for your interviews. And while going to Oxford is all very exciting, making travel arrangements and going abroad for university admissions can be stressful and tricky.
So here I give you my own experience—I hope it can help you figure out what going to interviews as an international student is actually like.
My most pressing concern was booking my flight to London. I’m from Korea, so getting plane tickets to and from Heathrow was no small investment. It didn’t help that shortlisting results—which would tell me whether or not I was called for interview—came out pretty late: for me the 24th of November, to be exact. Only less than two weeks before my first interview!
This meant that, to be safe, I had better book flights BEFORE I even knew I was wanted for interview, which I had done. Thankfully I was, but I’m not going to lie: I was so nervous everything would simply have to be canceled.
My advice? If Skype is for you, then go for it! If not, yes, it will be troublesome, but it’s also true that the worst case scenario, in which you don’t get shortlisted, is cancelling flights for a small fee—or you might as well visit the UK anyway and have a great time!
Anyhow, December came, and off I went to England. I arrived around a few days earlier than my actual interview day, because I wanted to get used to the country, the time zone, and being alone in a foreign country.
I spent those days prepping and re-reading books I’d mentioned on my personal statement while staying in London. Sometimes I felt alone, nervous, and tired/jet-lagged, but I could dispel those negative emotions by exploring London—one of my favorite cities—during study breaks, immersing myself in my subject that I absolutely loved, and simply hyping myself up for being officially invited to stay in Oxford. Regardless of the outcome, it was such an incredible experience and achievement to be called for interviews by Oxford!
Both my college and the student interview helpers were so accommodating and helpful: from connecting to the wifi to finding my way to the interviewer tutor’s office, they were always there and ready to assist me or answer my questions. The trip as a whole was admittedly daunting, but during my Oxford interview experience—the thing that was supposed to be most nerve-racking—I felt secure and at home, even as a nervous Korean kid who had just flown in from the opposite end of the world.