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It's a Small World

By Millie Punshon


We've all heard the saying. We know all too well that it's “a small world” when we meet a family friend accidentally in the street, your primary school teacher in the special-buy aisle of Aldi, or hear our own regional accent, miles away from the town it comes from. But it is a small world (or it seems that way) coming to Oxford too.


In March 2022, my mother and I undertook the journey from darkest Wales to Windsor Castle for me to compete in the final of the Historical Association’s Great Debate. The route we took was via Oxford, where I quite promptly fell in love and thus it all began. It was during this trip, that even despite my nerves, feelings of inferiority, and rampant self-doubt, I met some of the nicest people I could have hoped to meet - friends I exchanged instagrams with, and promised to keep in touch.


Flash forward to Results Day 2023, and I'm making an innocuous note on my Instagram: '01865, Millie in the Ox,' (all of my friends had gone to Manchester and it was the closest analogy I had to “Manny on the map.”) One of the girls from the debate replies to the note; she’s coming to Oxford too, we’re both reading English and she’s going to be in my lectures. Another’s off to Cambridge, and TOG's EiC Amy who also lives in North Wales will meet me for coffee when I get there. It’s a small world, at Oxford.


So why take the time to mention it? I've been looking back on my application, the whole lead in for this incredible experience, and I've been thinking about all of the things that I almost didn’t do. I nearly backed out of the Great Debate. Nearly didn’t ask to keep in touch. Nearly withdrew my application, because how silly was it to think that I could go to Oxford? My point is, once you make the leap, it rewards you tenfold down the line. It's a small world, and my attempt to make connections served me well - I'm not nearly half as scared for freshers as I was to begin with, because I know the type of people I’m going to be able to make friends with.


Dr T Swift, one of the wisest women I know, said: make the friendship bracelets, take the moment and taste it: you’ve got no reason to be afraid. Knowing I have friends before I even step foot on those beautiful cobbled streets, I would strongly argue that she was right.

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