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Julia Lorenz

The college acts as your friends and family, as your support system.

What made you decide to study at Oxford?

The German faculty at the University of Heidelberg offers students the chance to study at Oxford as an Erasmus exchange student, completing a one-year masters degree in Oxford while remaining part of my home university. Studying at an English-speaking university with a collegiate system had always been a dream of mine. However, I initially did not consider applying because the application process was very complex. Fortunately, my undergraduate supervisor encouraged me to try anyways.

“Studying at an English-speaking university with a collegiate system had always been a dream of mine.”

How did you find the application process, and do you have any advice for others preparing to apply?

The guidelines on how to apply available online from the university were extremely clear, however there is nothing that can prepare you for the Oxford application process. Everything felt new and overwhelming, the collegiate system bewildering and unfamiliar. I have gone through the whole process twice now, and even with the experience from the first time, it is still somewhat terrifying. Fortunately, the worst is over once the preparations are done and one arrives in Oxford. It is also helpful to reach out to professors in advance of your application, to get feedback on your projects and maybe even convince one of them to become a potential supervisor. Also, every time I handed in a form throughout the application process, I would ask if they needed anything else from me at that point, which helped a lot to put my mind at ease, because I always got confirmation that my application was still on track.

Did you specify a college on your application?

Being an Erasmus student, I could not choose my college, but Oriel would have been my first choice anyways, as the professor who is specialising in my field of interest is a fellow here. Applying for a DPhil, I wanted to return to Oriel as I greatly enjoyed my time here but got moved to another college because of a funding offer.

What do you think the benefits of the collegiate system are for postgraduate students?

“College is an important place to unwind and feel safe.”

The college acts as your friends and family, as your support system outside of academics and faculty politics. It is a place to socialise and talk about things unrelated to your subject and research, which is very needed after a long day in the library. From professional support from your college advisor to formal and informal meals in hall to doing sports the college will most likely be the home of your private life. Especially being an international and thus far away from your home friends and family, college is an important place to unwind and feel safe.

What do you enjoy about being a member of Oriel’s MCR community?

The Oriel MCR (Middle Common Room) is composed of all Oriel postgraduates. It is a lively and somewhat chaotic group of people that puts on events like dinners, parties, and teas, while also providing people with a physical common room to study, socialise, and, most importantly, enjoy free hot beverages. It is a very open and welcoming community, so most of the time when I enter the MCR it will take me a while to get back to my studies, as I get soaked into conversations or meet new people. Talking to people from different backgrounds and subjects is refreshing and a welcome distraction, as everyone in the faculty will be an expert in your field of research, which can be a lot at times.

What do you like the most about being an Orielensis?

“It makes me proud to be part of a community this welcoming and supportive.”

Oriel made me feel at home. When I first arrived here the airline had lost all my luggage, so I attended the first event, a black-tie event (that means tuxedo or equivalent), in sweatpants terribly afraid of not fitting in and not making any friends. The same night I was offered several t-shirts, dresses for upcoming formal events, pairs of socks, toiletries, and even bed sheets, while getting to know most of the people I now call my closest friends. It makes me proud to be part of a community this welcoming and supportive.