Anthropology and International Relations, 2015
“As an international student I would definitely recommend that others coming to Brookes from overseas try to expand their horizons and look outside of their comfort zone! Approach people that you might not see back home, and try to speak as little of your native language as possible”
After I finished my International Baccalaureate in Houston, Texas in 2011 I decided to take a year out to work and travel. In this time I moved to Oslo, Norway and worked at a nursing home to save up for a 3 month trip to Africa before starting at Oxford Brookes in September 2012. As a result of my father working in the oil industry, my family moved around the world very often. I am a Norwegian but I was born in Singapore – we moved to Perth, Australia then Oslo, Norway and on to Houston, Texas by the time I was 12. Being exposed to so many different cultures and people definitely became the foundation for my interest in international relations and anthropology: the political combined with the cultural.
The city of Oxford itself was what originally attracted me to studying this course, alongside the decent sports programme. I had acquaintances that had gone to study for their degrees at Brookes and they honestly had nothing but positive experiences to share about their time there. It obviously helped that I had heard that Brookes had one of the better anthropology departments and the research interests of the professors intrigued me to find out more. Because of the wide choice of modules I was really able to explore my own interests. The debates during seminars and chances to share information, ideas or points of view with the staff and fellow students was always one of my favourite aspects of both anthropology and international relations lectures. Molly Cochran and Chris McDonaugh are both lecturers who I’d say were particularly helpful and inspiring throughout my course. Molly was always so enthusiastic and helpful with any questions that I may have had about her international relations modules and the subject in general. And Chris McDonaugh certainly deserves an award for the amount of patience and help he gave me throughout my final 2 years – especially as my dissertation supervisor. He always had a way of bringing up new ideas and alternative ways to approach anthropological topics which helped to expand my own point of view.
I was a member of the Brookes Women’s Basketball team for my 3 years at Brookes, serving as captain in my final year. Being part of the team brought me an immeasurable amount of joy and fun; and although it was a competitive environment where our team was extremely successful, the sports team became a social setting through which much of my circle of friends was built.
Oxford is a great place to live as a student as everything you need is in easy reach. It has a buzzing city centre and easy transport to the university, as well as links with London which was something really important to me. There are a vast number of students everywhere you go and the social life is amazing - especially through the sports team I was part of – and the new John Henry Brookes building is an amazing place to have lectures. The facilities made the obligatory late night library sessions bearable, almost enjoyable!
After graduating I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do, so I decided to explore another personal interest of mine - interior design! I’m currently living back in Houston working as a Project Coordinator for Kasta Design Company, an interior design firm. However the next step in my plan is to move back to England in 2016 – to London this time. I then hope to start my postgraduate studies through an MA in International Development.
Having successfully completed a degree, regardless of what it is, shows a dedication and endurance that is invaluable to any future career. The experience of working and engaging with other people, as well as fine tuning my time management skills, learning how to work well under pressure and with time constraints will help me in any future challenges I’m faced with. Being given the chance to explore these skills at Brookes has been invaluable in making me more attractive to employers.
As an international student I would definitely recommend that others coming to Brookes from overseas try to expand their horizons and look outside of their comfort zone! Approach people that you might not see back home, and try to speak as little of your native language as possible. Don’t make yourself unapproachable to potentially wonderful new people just because you’re not confident in your ability to speak English or express yourself yet – there’s no better place to learn this than with friends. People always said that having an accent is a charming character trait anyway, and really the best way to improve your skills is to immerse yourself in the language!
The 3 years I spent in Oxford were the best of my life, not only due to the people that I met and the friends that I made along the way, but also because of how much I enjoyed the course I was taking. There are fantastic facilities, enthusiastic staff … it’s an amazing city and I am truly proud to be a Brookes alumni!