Pok-Tin Tang

Hometown & Region: Hong Kong

Degree: Medicine

A levels: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Further Maths

When I’m not working I’m…

…Playing football for both Brasenose and the Medical Society, spending time in the JCR and with friends both in and outside of college, leisure reading, and exploring Oxford – there’s just so much to see and do here!

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

I came to study in England when I was 13, which is when I really began to consider studying at university in England. At the time I’d only been to Oxford once, very briefly. When it came to applying for universities, Oxford’s reputation was definitely a factor, but I also went to visit a fair few, and I remember Oxford standing out in particular – it was a really nice summer’s day, and it really did seem to me to be the place I wanted to spend the next (three or) six years living in. Speaking to some people I knew in the years above me reading Medicine here was also very helpful when it came to making a decision, in particular when it came to picking a college – I actually only looked around Brasenose briefly, but I picked it in the end, and it’s definitely felt like the right choice!

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

I don’t think it is: I did expect there to be a few aspects of Oxford life to be different from life at other universities, mainly centred around the college system, and this is true, though it is a very positive difference. Oxford also does have its own traditions, which can seem a little strange but are mostly quite fun, and not a huge part of life here for most of the year! Otherwise, I’ve really enjoyed the past three years of undergraduate life, and I think that life here is fairly similar to life at other universities.

What do you like most about studying in Brasenose?

Academically, the tutoring at Brasenose is great for medicine. We get a decent number of tutes, some regular ones with our main tutors and then others for different topics added on if needed. We might not have as many as some other colleges do, but they’re always very relevant, and I leave them feeling a lot more knowledgeable about the topic (on top of the preparation done!). The tutors are also really approachable and take an active interest in how we’re doing, making sure we’re not overworked and that we’re happy with the material being covered outside of tutorials. They’re always happy for us to take a week off if things are getting a little congested, or, in some cases, have additional tutes.

Otherwise, something I didn’t consider when I applied to Brasenose but has turned out really well for me is that college guarantees three years of residence in college-maintained property (in Brasenose or Frewin), which not a lot of other colleges offer. From my experience and speaking to friends at other colleges, even those that do might not be able to offer accommodation that is so close to the centre of the city, which is great for getting to lectures (and back) quickly, late evening shopping trips, or even just getting home after a night out. I think having us all live so close to each other also makes Brasenose a really tight-knit community, where you get to know people in all years regardless of the subject you’re studying.

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

A solid amount of enthusiasm is always useful for finding one’s own place in Oxford, which has such a diverse student body, and so many opportunities that you’ve got to do some looking to find exactly what want you want out of the place. It can get pretty intense here, with the short terms, so it really is necessary to motivate yourself to keep going and try to take as much as you can in your stride! It’s also that enthusiasm that’ll motivate you to research topics yourself so that you can get to grips with it before a tute, so that you can look at it from a different perspective, or so that you can integrate all that you’ve learnt about it, to do well throughout your years here.

What are the perks of your degree?

I’d say the biggest perks of Oxford medicine are in how the course is structured, and the way we’re taught.

The medical course here emphasises the science underlying clinical medicine, which can seem a little daunting, but can be very rewarding. Third year has been quite exciting, as for a research project (part of the course) I worked in a lab for 8 weeks on a project related to their research, but that I largely directed and conducted experiments for on my own, with my supervisors available to help whenever I needed. I’d never worked in a lab before, so it was really exciting learning about some cutting-edge technology and looking into a field that might only be familiar to very few! This year also gave me the opportunity specialise and focus in on areas of the medical course that I found interesting. Overall, I’d say that although the preclinical course as a whole isn’t like many others around the country, with relatively little patient contact, it’s definitely worthwhile if you’re willing to stick with it!

In terms of teaching, experts in the field you’re learning about will not only be lecturing you, but in some cases be teaching you in small groups, helping develop both your thoughts on that topic and a scientific approach towards problem-solving, which is great for building up towards encountering clinical problems. Importantly, even though the answers to questions might seem clear to them, they don’t expect you to get it all immediately, and most tutors are quite understanding throughout the year when you’re trying to get to grips with what’s expected and how to get to that level!