Sarita Shah

Hometown & Region: London

Degree: History and Politics

A levels: History, Politics, Classical Civilization, and English (Pre-U)

Year of study: First Year

When I’m not working I…

…spend a lot of time (probably much more than I should) on YouTube, but Oxford also provides so many extra-curricular activities (for when I’m not procrastinating on Buzzfeed or on the cheese floor in Park End). I’m neither particularly sporty nor much of a thespian/singer/dancer but I’ve found plenty of other ways to fill up my spare time in Oxford. I’m a member of the RAG Ball committee, taking care of entz, which is proving to be really challenging but also very fulfilling. As well as that, I am also co-directing a play for Brasenose Arts Week called ‘UKIP: The Musical’.

What made you choose to study at Brasenose and/or Oxford? (Be honest if you applied elsewhere…)

Even though quite a large proportion of my year seemed set on applying to ‘Oxbridge’, I always somewhat unsure – especially since I was determined to study both history and politics. However, when it came to choosing my 5 university choices I knew that if I didn’t even consider Oxford I would always feel a slight glimmer of regret but if I didn’t get in I would have been happy to go elsewhere.

When it came to choosing which College I would apply to, I went completely on gut instinct. I visited on one of the University Open Days and visited a few colleges but felt that Brasenose had a really warm and inviting atmosphere. It was neither too small to feel suffocating nor too large to feel impersonal and, in a somewhat Goldilocks moment, it felt just right.

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

Before I came to Oxford, it was quite difficult for me to envision what life would be like. Once I got here it initially felt like a bit of a culture shock as the onus to motivate yourself and get all of the reading/work done is completely on you. However, after a few weeks this became much less daunting and instead seemed to be a blessing, not least because it meant that my schedule was much more flexible, allowing me to fit much more into my day.

What do you like most about studying in Brasenose?

Brasenose is very much a community – especially amongst the historians. The Brasenose community is evident when, for example, you turn up to JCR meetings and the JCR is packed with people (not just for the free pizza). The bond amongst historians is also clear to see both within your own year and between years. The amount of historians at Brasenose make for lively history dinners and mean that there are always lots of books from the reading list circulating around college (invaluable whilst you’re in the midst of an essay crisis)!

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

Being able to voice your opinion! During my short time at Oxford I’ve met such a diverse group of people however, the thing that seems to tie everyone together is that people don’t seem afraid to voice an opinion: whether it be on Miley Cyrus’ new haircut or the reasons for the Fall of Rome. This type of atmosphere seems possible because of the tolerance and acceptance felt within the Brasenose, and indeed Oxford, community.

What are the perks of your degree?

The biggest perk is the flexibility of the degree both in module choices and in work hours. Whilst the straight historians are confined to doing a medieval, early modern, and modern paper, those doing history and joint schools have much more choice in picking history papers (although, of course, there are fewer opportunities to do papers). Whilst there’s little choice on the politics side in 1st year, it seems that by 2nd and 3rd years you are able to tailor your course to suit your interests.

Another perk is definitely the flexibility in working hours. I personally find it much easier to work in the afternoon and evenings, and because I’m not restricted to going to lectures and labs all day everyday, it means I am able to work much more freely.