Joseph Iwuafor

Nigeria, MArchD Applied Design in Architecture

“It feels like the air in Oxford is very different, it is like I am almost home all the time... it is great to be part of such a large community of students who have lived here for hundreds and hundreds of years, it is fantastic!”

Why did you decide to come and study in the UK?

I completed my undergraduate as well in the UK, actually! So this is just a second step because I did study first at Nottingham University and then, because I'm looking to sort of get the ARB accreditation, there's a second step towards it. So I looked into Oxford Brookes University as one of the best universities and most affordable for what the value of your studies offers. Oxford is a fantastic place to be too, so, yeah, it was easy to make the decision about coming here.

What were your impressions of Oxford?

It feels like the air in Oxford is very different, it is like I am almost home all the time. Whenever you leave Oxford and then you come back, it feels like you always come back home, it's been home for about five years now! Oxford is something very different, I feel like the tradition, everything that's rooted in this place, it feels really cozy to be around to, the spirit of this place is very strong and I feel that every day when I come out on the street, so it is great to be part of such a large community of students who have lived here during hundreds and hundreds of years, it is fantastic!

Where did you live when you first arrived?

In my first year I lived in the city centre and at the moment as well! I obviously have to commute to Oxford Brookes University from time to time, but it is almost always a good walk going from across High Street down to Oxford Brookes University is not really a big deal plus you have the Oxford Brookes buses which are free, so that was quite an easy transition on my arrival. I also knew a few people before I came to Oxford, that's why I got accommodation in the city centre which has been great!

What did you think of the facilities on campus?

For most architecture students, spending most of their time studying at the studio and the studio environment, just having your friends there as well, meeting people there and working on things together, I think that's brilliant! Most particularly, I think the workshop is amazing because you can get to use every sort of tool and you get your hands on these powerful tools to guide you to do different things, so I spent quite a lot of time in the workshop making little models and stuff. I think the facilities are quite good in general, especially the workshop and the library. I always have a seat in the library because it is quite fun for us to go in there, quite comfortably because you get lots of work done and it's a great environment as well during the end of term time.

How have you found the transition from being a student in person to having to move everything online?

I think that it's been handled extremely well...I mean, it's not easy for me, but I feel like more hat's off to the people putting this in order because they're trying their best and you can see that is still being handled in a very high degree of quality. I appreciate that it's just not a normal situation, not for anyone, so I can't complain about it. I think they've done what they absolutely could do, and I appreciate that.

Has it been more difficult making new friends since things have moved online?

One of the things was the easy access to facilities and having to be there so it was easy to talk to people. So that was brilliant because everyone was going through the same thing. I met a few new people who came from other universities, so that was quite good and kind of kicked off quite easily and just my classmates in general, some of us are international so you discovered things together and from the sort of new friendships you go to the course together and then just sort of goes from there, so it's been quite natural. I think I was quite lucky to meet them prior to the COVID restrictions, because now we can sort of go through this thing together and feel like there's someone to talk to about what's going on.

What does a typical day as a student look like for you?

Depending on the day and if I have an early lecture, I go straight to the lecture and then from the lecture I go straight to the studio and then have lunch with my friends, then come back to do some work myself. I have this tendency to stay up quite late at night and then obviously you just sort of have to cut that back because you have to look after yourself. But usually, a typical day for me, was mostly being sort of between the library, the studio and the workshop, just as these facilities have spaces for socialization.

What would be your top tips for future students interested in coming to the UK and coming to Oxford Brookes University?

To talk to people, they're going through almost exactly the same thing you're going through, so you should talk to them, especially people that just come at the same time as you could discover things together, it's about discovery, as we finally come to the university and we are going to try to discover them as much as possible so it's interesting to have people on that journey with you. Be approachable in general, because I feel like because most of the time you come by yourself, like it's difficult to put yourself out there because I know people feel they have to be reclusive because they are in a new place, but you should go out; it is daring, but I think there's so much value in just breaking the boundary, so go out and talk to people, whoever! Oxford is a very conversational place, so many things to talk about, so many people who want to talk about things, so for me that's been the most interesting. So, yeah, just go out, go out and talk to people, explore the city in so many ways.

Can you sum up your whole experience at Oxford Brookes University in just one word?

Enlightening! It must be enlightening in so many ways, enlightening the kind of things that are sort of opening your mind and your view beyond your conception of things before.