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Profile: Barbara Tyler

Barbara Tyler (2020, Biochemistry)

Barbara is in her first year studying Biochemistry and is originally from Hungary. She holds a black belt in taekwondo. She was a student helper at the recent Virtual Open Days.

Why did you apply for Biochemistry?
I applied to study Biochemistry as I was interested in understanding an interdisciplinary science; how the chemistry of an individual element or atom can affect a particular pathway, or even the organism as a whole. I spent a lot of time deliberating and choosing the field I wanted to go into as at A-Level I initially studied all three sciences and maths. Having dropped physics at the end of Year 12, I was hesitant to make a decision between Biochem, Biomed and Medicine – but eventually resonated the most with Biochemistry as I enjoyed the pure science more than the human application. I now really appreciate the cross-linked nature of Biology and Chemistry and have developed specific areas of interest within the subject such as immunology and virology. My further reading of various books and articles at A-Level definitely kick-started this and I could not be happier with my choice of study now – regardless of how challenging it sometimes proves to be!

How have you changed since walking through Univ’s doors for the first time?
When I first arrived in Oxford, I spent most of my time star-struck and in awe of the towering spires and historic streets. A year later, that feeling hasn’t quite gone – but the bustling city has begun to feel like home and going back for the vacation periods has only gotten harder each term. Univ has been such a welcoming environment and I have met some of the most wonderful and interesting people, whether this be my peers or my tutors. Even though my university experience began in the midst of the Corona virus pandemic, I have enjoyed every single minute of it and have been challenged both academically and personally to develop from the “small home-town” outlook I once had. I am definitely more self-confident and outspoken; extracurricular activities and societies at Univ have enabled me to find and voice my own opinions. This has sparked some interesting debates and discussions with others who have had very different backgrounds to mine and so I would say my worldview has changed and been broadened through hearing about the experiences of my peers.

Has anything about Oxford surprised you?
The first initial shock I had at Oxford (silly as it may now seem) is that I wasn’t the only first-generation university student from a state-school background. I had heard so much about the stereotypes of the university that my initial perception was definitely warped, and so, I was extremely anxious about arriving. I then subsequently met my roommate (I had a shared study in first year) and she was very much like me – we were both on access programmes and did not know anyone else there. This mutual initial fear of the rest of Oxford definitely gave us something to bond over in the first few days. Reflecting on this now, it seems ridiculous. In the following weeks, I quickly met some of my now best friends and nobody cared about where you came from or “how much money you had”. Do not let the initial stereotypes of the place act as a blindfold from how amazing of an experience Oxford truly is – everyone is privileged to be there.

In terms of my course, the only surprise I had was the amount of maths and physics in it! Both are disciplines which I enjoy and did not want to give up from A-Level, but in hindsight I perhaps should have read the fine print more closely.

What do you do outside your studies?
During the day if I am not studying, you will probably find me either on a mad dash getting coffee with my friends or playing sports. I am a black belt in taekwondo and train a couple of times a week as I am hoping to compete again next year! There are also a lot of low-commitment sports available at try at Univ. I have had a go at rowing and netball and even have been roped into watching my friends play college level sports like cricket and rugby.

In the evenings a couple times a week, Univ hold events like Open Mic Night and JCR meetings which everyone in the College will attend. It is a really nice way to see your friends in older years and the sense of community spirit can really be felt. Otherwise, I also do love going out for meals and drinks with my friends, the nightlife in Oxford is quite good as well so there is always something to do!

What advice would you give to prospective students?
The best advice I can give (which is completely general and applies to all universities not just Oxford) would be to choose the course, college, and university for yourself and not because you are ‘expected’ to, someone wants you to, or your friends are all doing it. It is a massive commitment – in terms of both time and money – and so if you are not 100% committed to it and won’t be happy there then don’t do it. Your mental health and wellbeing are first and foremost important, everyone else will support whatever decision you make. In terms of Oxford specific advice, pick a course you love and read as much as you can about it before the application process or your time here even begins. Tutors love hearing about the extra details whether in interviews, essays or tutorials and it will make you stand out of the crowd and convey how dedicated you are to the subject. And, of course, be yourself and good luck!

Do you have any favourite Univ moments?
My favourite Univ moment of the year has to be matriculation – which is the initiation into the University. Given the pandemic, we weren’t able to complete all of the traditions but wearing the sub fusc and having a day off from work with all of your friends around you was a moment I’ll never forget. We took so many photos as it was our first chance to show everyone at home just how unique the Oxford experience is and we were even lucky enough to have afternoon tea supplied by Univ (which at the time was our first formal dining experience due to the restrictions in place). This whole year has meant that the little things are so much more significant and I have been so excited to try every new experience the college has to offer.

Another notable freshers event was the Y2K/2000s themed Open Mic Night we had in Trinity Term. It is one of the few times that we were able to have a large group of people in an outdoor space and the night spent with everyone was so fun. Univ as a whole is really close knit and everyone is so friendly within the relaxed environment.

Describe Univ in three words.
Home sweet home

Published: 12 July 2021

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