Ever wonder what life would be like studying Medicine at Oxford University?
In this series, we asked current and past students what a day in their student life is like. This particular article is all about life as an Oxford Medicine student, courtesy of Daniela.
Who Am I?
Hello, my name is Daniela and I am currently studying Medicine at St John’s College.
I have completed by BA in Medical Sciences and achieved a First. I’m a first-generation student (no one in my family has got into Oxbridge before), and I am originally from Northampton, UK
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Commons misconceptions: studying Medicine at Oxford
In being the first successful applicant for Medicine at an Oxbridge university in the history of my secondary school, I was very worried I wouldn’t fit in. There is definitely a perception that everyone who studies at Oxford is going to have superhuman intelligence and completely different interests to you. In actuality, I’ve found that all the people I have met have been kind, friendly, and super down to earth.
Medics really stick together and support one another through the hard times, and it’s really nice to be able to meet students from other subjects in such a friendly community. I’ve also found my tutors incredibly supportive and genuine, which the college environment definitely contributes to.
Through the years, we even go to dinner at our tutor’s houses, sharing stories, food, and wine! It really feels like everyone wants to share their experience in the most positive way possible, and it makes college feel like a second home.
a typical Day: life as an Oxford medicine student
Us poor medics normally start the day with a 9am lecture, so don’t expect too many lie-ins (though you do get the rare one which is nice). We’ll normally have around three hour-long lectures, and a practical (histology, pharmacology, physiology labs, DR, etc) organised centrally by the MSTC.
We would also have a 1-2 hour tutorial during the gaps in the day, often in the evening, for which we would need to have written a 1,200ish word essay. Tutorials are really where you do the most independent study and learning in the form of essays, but they are far more interesting and engaging than lectures.
The number of essays can definitely be overwhelming (we would have 4 tutorials on a normal week), but all the tutors are accommodating if you find it too much and need to delay a deadline. They do push you, but they don’t want you to have a nervous breakdown!
I do have to warn any readers, we did have to have some tutorials on Saturday mornings: one of our tutors is also a clinician, so he has a tight schedule which we sometimes need to work around. But they’re actually not all that bad, it just means you probably can’t go out on Friday night (which is okay, the big club nights are Wednesday and Thursday anyway). On the subject of going out, the SJC bar is super cheap and Yannick, our bartender, can whip up the drink of your heart’s desire in minutes.
The other important part of my day-to-day uni experience has been food. After lectures/practicals, I would normally go to work in Kendrew café, which is our college’s on-site café with lovely big tables in a bright and airy room – it’s a great workspace and the food/drinks are well priced! Green’s café is across the road from John’s which is my go-to spot for a hungover brunch. Gloucester
Green is also very close and sells really nice lunch food, and there are loads of restaurants you can find discounts for! John’s is great because it’s so central and everything for your undergrad is in walking distance!
Tips for success: Life as an Oxford Medicine Student
Despite how much I’ve enjoyed Medicine at Oxford, I have had some negative experiences at university. In my first year, I really struggled with biochemistry, which is one of the three main topics you will cover. As a result, I failed my 1st year biochemistry exam and the resit, and was thus forced to take a year out of university.
SJC were amazingly helpful in this time. Tutors took time out of their personal lives and holidays abroad to attend meetings about my situation, and wrote a letter of recommendation to accompany my appeal for a further resit (which was eventually successful).
I still think that the examiners treated me more as a number rather than a person, but I have to think about what it would have been like at any other university. I would have probably still been just a number to the examiners, but I wouldn’t have had access to the amazing support network that was my tutors. I thankfully passed my second resit.
After my experience, my tips would be:
Final advice: Life as an Oxford Medicine Student
Oxford is an amazing city and St John’s College has been immensely helpful through my education in all ways. If you want to apply for Medicine and Oxford, I would say absolutely go for it, even if you’re worried about not being smart enough or anything on those lines. I was in that situation, but I’ve made it successfully to clinical school and I’ve enjoyed my journey there!
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