Richard Ng

Hometown & Region: Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands

Degree: PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics)

A levels: Maths, Further Maths, Economics, Physics… and General Studies

Year of study: First Year

When I’m not working I’m…

…Looking ahead to Trinity Term, I’m pretty sure I’ll be swamped with rehearsals for the first few weeks! In 3rd Week of Trinity is Brasenose Arts Week – the second largest arts festival in Oxford – and I’m performing in a production of Much Ado About Nothing, as well as directing a freshers’ musical. I anticipate spending much of my time alternating between being yelled at for clumsy acting, and yelling at others for their clumsy acting.

If I’m not rehearsing, you may find me in a club demonstrating my unique interpretation of the verb ‘to dance’. Depending on who you ask, my dancing could be “hilarious”, “terrifying”, or just “awful”. I like to think of it simply as enthusiastic – or enthusiastically awful, anyway.

I also think I have perfected the art of procrastination by Snapchat. Nothing is too mundane for me to use as the basis for a Snapchat Story of several minutes’ length. Previous adventures include ‘My trip to the laundry room’ and ‘Trying to microwave a Rustlers burger’; they are every bit as gripping as they sound.

Finally, since coming to Brasenose, I’ve rediscovered my love of sleep. Nap time is happy time.

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

I certainly feel that the style of learning at Oxford is suited to me. We’re given a lot of independence, and tutorials are fantastic for really getting to grips with the nuances of a topic. The college system is brilliant as well, since there is a wide pool of wonderful people for you to mix with rather than being slightly more dependent on the lottery of who your flatmates are in standard residential halls.

When visiting Oxford for an Open Day, I had a look around three colleges in total: Corpus Christi, Christ Church and Brasenose. Brasenose is a little bigger than Corpus, and much smaller than Christ Church. So, in my very own version of the Goldilocks story, I found Brasenose – and it was just right.

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

In the most important respect, no. I came to Oxford not really knowing exactly what to anticipate, but with the overriding sense that it was going to be a brilliant experience, and I have not been let down at all there.

Having said that, there are still aspects of life in Oxford which have taken me aback. Probably the main surprise for me was discovering the ‘Oxford bubble’: during term time, it almost seems as if the universe is bounded by the borders of Oxford, with everything outside losing all relevance in your life. Upon returning home, the bubble is abruptly popped, but when the next term starts, you’re sucked right back into the bubble again.

I also hadn’t really appreciated before arriving at Oxford just how college-centric life can be; choosing a college really is a decision which hugely affects your experience. It is no doubt possible to have a good time at any college, but if you want to have a great time, you should think carefully about which college suits you best.

What do you like most about studying in Brasenose?

Saying “the best thing about my college is its people” is such an incredible cliché that I would be loath to do so were it not for the fact that it is so very true. It is a community which I feel very fortunate to be a part of; I know that is a message which is advertised everywhere to the point of almost losing all meaning, but my answer would just not be honest if I didn’t stress how strong and genuine that sentiment really is for me.

Another huge perk of Brasenose is its unbeatable location. As it is so central, it is remarkably easy to get to anywhere you want to, which means you save precious journey time – which means an extra few minutes in bed! That might not seem like much, but it really accumulates over a term.

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

The most desirable quality is, I think, humility. At Oxford, you are surrounded by an incredible number of very talented and intelligent individuals. There will be an element of competition, naturally, but remember also that you can learn a lot from the other students here. Thinking yourself to be above everybody else will just set you up for ridicule if proved wrong – and probably not make a great first impression on others.

Determination is also a crucial thing to have. The work is tough here, and sometimes it can feel all-consuming; without an inner steel it might get a bit too much for you.

Combining both of those then gives you an attitude which I believe will serve you well for studying at Oxford: yes, it will be tough, but it is by challenging ourselves that we grow.

What are the perks of your degree?

It seems to me that PPE does have a certain kudos to it even here at Oxford in that some people will afford you respect simply through the virtue of studying PPE. I particularly recall a conversation with a physicist who confessed to me that PPE was her true passion; she hadn’t applied for PPE herself only because she ‘knew’ she wouldn’t have made it in. She then proceeded to wax lyrical about how intelligent I must be with what I felt to be misplaced faith. I certainly didn’t correct her, though!

There’s a definite stereotype that only a certain type of character studies PPE, and another great perk of my degree is disproving that stereotype.