Frankie Shama

Hometown & Region: Pinner, London

Degree: English Language and Literature

A levels: English Literature, History, Biology, Chemistry

When I’m not working I’m…

…Involved in:

  • Student Drama: I’ve directed two plays since coming to Oxford as part of Brasenose Arts Week. This is a festival we have during third week of Trinity (our third term) and features plays, rehearsed readings, concerts, bake-offs and lots of Pimm’s on Brasenose’s New Quad! It’s a wonderful week and I was lucky enough to direct Noel Coward’s ‘Hay Fever’ last year and Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ this year with a cast made up of Brasenose and out of college students from all different years. Whilst ‘Hay Fever’ was cursed with a storm that week, we performed Shakespeare in the glorious sun on a stage and marquee erected in the quad!
  • JCR Committee: I was Diversities and Equalities rep on the JCR committee for Brasenose. I tried to represent all ethnic, religious and sexual minorities across the college, and with a diversities committee we organise events around college.

What made you choose to study at Brasenose and/or Oxford?

Brasenose was the first college I visited on an Oxford open day. I can remember walking through the door and being greeted by a rapturous ‘hello’ from the students; my dad and I were their first visitors that day and the students were so pleased to have people to show around! Two students showed us the college and Brasenose seemed warm, friendly and looked beautiful in the sun. It felt small enough to be a college I could call ‘home’, but not too small. Brasenose also has a great underground bar! In addition, the tutors we have for English here are lovely too. I met Dr Sos Eltis on an open-day talk in the English faculty and thought her passion and down-to-earth perspective on applications and the interview process at Oxford made me more confident to chance it and put an application in.

Is life in Oxford different to what you expected it to be?

Very different! I feel your first year at any university is when you change as an individual the most. You learn to live on your own, to manage your own work schedule more precisely and things like how you read, write and think develop rapidly. You can never expect this rapid change to your life. It’s quite unsettling at first and left me feeling intimidated for a good term before I began to appreciate the great aspects of working in Oxford. It is true, the tutors we work with open up ways into texts which I would never have even considered. Whilst you’re working hard, it’s always incredibly rewarding. Many of the tutors are working at the forefront of academia in their respective areas and encourage you to think in new exciting ways about texts you thought you got sorted! I really have appreciated that this year and learnt the best tutorials and experiences are the unsettling ones; the classes which occur at the times you think you have a text sorted which you really don’t at all!

What do you like most about studying in Brasenose?

The people. Everyone is friendly, always stops for a chat and the positivity keeps you going through term. You can’t walk through the quads without bumping into someone you know and the bar is a great place to socialise and catch up. The people I’ve met in Brasenose have made all the difference to my experience and I’ve made some life-long friends along the way.

A quality you think is important for someone looking to study at Oxford?

Openness to new things. Don’t be complacent or shut off to new potential ideas. This place will encourage you to develop new ways of thinking not simply about your work but yourself. Be ready to be challenged, discover new perspectives from all walks of life in and out of study, but most of all understand that however different studying may be from A-Level work, and however diverse your social-life may become, the challenges you face and the knowledge you gain from studying in Oxford is invaluable. Let the experience of studying here wash over you and try to find positives in all of them; don’t resist them, but enjoy them, and embrace the strange and exciting potential Oxford life has.

What are the perks of your degree?

Huge amount of choice! Whilst the period boundaries are set (i.e. 1750-1830), within this period (usually studied over the course of one term), you can choose an endless amount of material which interests you to write on. In effect, you write the syllabus to your own degree course. It allows you the opportunity to follow up your own interests and mark your path through the literature of the period. Also, because questions are not set for you, you can write about any bonkers, insane or frankly daft part of a text you wish to each week!