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One Year On - Why Changing Courses Was the Best Decision I Ever Made

By Indiana Sharp

I started at Oxford last year, in Michaelmas ’22. Yet, I am still a first year – a tricky fact to explain when new friends peruse my Instagram and see TWO different matriculation posts. Almost the minute I started my studies in Oxford, I realised my efforts were misguided – I was on the wrong course. Yes, I had applied for Classics (a perfectly enjoyable course for many students), enchanted by the prospect of Latin incantations and weighty tomes of the Iliad. However, when I began to embark on essays and daily 9am language classes, the romanticism fell away: I became deeply unhappy, as quickly as Michaelmas Week 1.



Naïvely, I thought to arrange a quick meeting with my tutor to get things straightened out – surely I could interview for a different course by the end of the week and get started the following Monday? Not quite. My tutors made it persistently clear that I would not be able to change courses for another year at least (there were murmurs of waiting until after Classics Mods in second year!) I didn't understand why I could not interview imminently and catch up with the work so far that year. I felt time and possibility slipping away as I watched others fall in love with their subjects, enjoying their long stints in the library and developing steadfast friendship groups.


I faced some horrible possibilities: endure a course I hated for a year or even two; or, leave the university I had dreamed of for much of my life. Michaelmas continued on as I researched other universities and dreamed of a life without Latin. I kept meeting with my tutors, though, committing myself two or three times a week to crying in their offices. Sometime after I had resolved to apply to different universities before the January UCAS deadline, I had an especially auspicious meeting with one of my tutors. She had secured me an interview for Classical Archaeology and Ancient History – my favoured new course – for the final day of Michaelmas (Friday of 8th week, 9am).


The interview went well. One sleepy morning of Christmas vacation was marked by an email confirming my acceptance onto the new course. In retrospect, I don’t think I truly realised the huge weight of that email, and how it would go on to transform my university life. After suspending my studies, for the remainder of the academic year, I spent several months out of university, as my Spotify playlist titled ‘involuntary gap year era’ will inform you. I had an incredibly enriching time, and attempted to redefine myself outside of my studies, by returning to art and travel and general frivolity.


As I write now, I have completed Michaelmas ’23, one term down on the new course. I cannot fully articulate the contrast between each Michaelmas – this term has afforded me long happy stints in the library and a wonderful friendship group. I have been able to experience the version of Oxford that I had previously envied through strangers’ Instagram posts or blogs like That Oxford Girl. It can be so daunting to admit a mistake in selecting a course at a university intended for near perfection, but changing courses at Oxford was the best decision I ever made.

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