Ihsaan Faisal

Hometown & Region: Birmingham

Degree: Philosophy, Politics & Economics

A levels: (IB): Maths, Spanish, Philosophy at Higher Level; English, Economics, Physics at Standard Level

Year of study: Second Year

When I’m not working I’m…

…A welfare rep for the college which means I run welfare teas and organise things like massages to try to keep people happy. On top of this, there are more serious aspects to my job which generally consist of talking to people when upset or letting them know what other support is available I the college and university.

When not in welfare mode, I’m usually to be found reading about, watching or playing sport – which is not to say I’m any good at it! I also enjoy just watching a film with friends or doing nothing but sitting and talking. A few times a term you might be lucky enough to spot me dancing terribly in a nightclub…

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

I applied to Oxford because it was the university that did the course I wanted to do (PPE) best. I knew that I’d regret not giving it a go and that I’d much rather know that it wasn’t the place for me by not getting in than live without being that knowledge.

I applied to Brasenose for various reasons. Firstly, it seemed a very friendly college at Open Day. Secondly, the PPE tutors gave the impression that every application would be considered carefully and that it was a human process whereby they looked at the people who were applying and their entire applications rather than making the decision based solely on a couple of numbers. Thirdly, there are quite a few PPE places for my course, so I knew I would have other people to talk to about it. Finally, it’s in a fantastic location right in the centre of Oxford.

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

It was hard for me to know what life would be like here. I suppose one thing that is surprising is how normal most people are here. Although everybody is a geek in some way or other, most people are completely un-intimidating and you can have completely relaxed conversations about all sorts of nonsense without feeling there has to be some sort of an intellectual reason for saying something.

What do you like most about studying in Brasenose?

The community and atmosphere. Working in Brasenose library is a bit of a nightmare because I have so many friends around to distract me but, equally, that’s one of the reasons I’m here. It’s so nice to work in a place with so many friendly people. Even when the work is difficult you don’t feel out of place: everybody has difficult work and so everybody is able to empathise with and help each other.

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

Having passion for your subject is important. When you’ve left your work too late and you’re having to do it at some silly hour of the night time, it really helps to actually enjoy what you’re doing and find it interesting. Whilst some people prioritise doing a subject they think they’re good at, often it’s being passionate about a subject that gives you the incentive to really work hard at it and read about things that interest you. That’s how you succeed at Oxford and it’s what tutors look for at interview.

What are the perks of your degree?

PPE is a degree that can appeal to a wide variety of people because there are three parts to the subject. Those who don’t like maths can drop economics early whilst those who aren’t so keen on essays can go heavy on the maths. Personally I love the blend I get – my typical working week is split up into a philosophy essay, a short economics essay and some economics problems. I love the fact that I can switch from thinking about whether we really exist to doing some maths problems and it stops me from going stale or getting bored.