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Reading for DPhil at Oxford - Is it all real or is it happening inside my head?

By Mahnoor Nadeem

Wanting to do big things yet not knowing where to start. Always a high achiever yet too scared to take the next step. This might be the case for most of the people with big dreams and I was no different. I had a particular research interest and a professor whose work I always found very interesting. 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 turned 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 and 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 wave off (I assume it might be the case for a majority of the Oxford students whether national or international). It makes me emotional and I have cried in thankfulness 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 chance, 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 the 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 easy with the efforts of the wonderful platform that the blog (That Oxford Girl) is.

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 all this is true or am I 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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