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Profile: Leonie Defonteyne

Leonie smiling

Leonie Defonteyne (2018, MSt in Classical Archaeology)

Leonie is currently studying for the MSt in Classical Archaeology and hopes to pursue a DPhil next academic year. She did her undergrad at Univ as well, so knows the college inside out. Besides looking at ancient Greek pots in the Ashmolean Museum, she enjoys going for long runs and spending time with friends in cafés. Leonie will be a welfare officer alongside Emily Rowland (2020, DPhil in Clinical Medicine) this year. She is passionate about mental health and hopes to keep up Univ’s reputation as the friendliest college. Please do get in touch with her if you have any welfare-related questions or just fancy a chat! As a true Belgian, Leonie always has a large supply of chocolate (or vegan alternative) to share!

What did you do before coming to Univ?
I have been at Univ for so long that I cannot quite remember…

Why did you choose to do an MSt?
I did my undergrad in Classical Archaeology and Ancient History at Oxford, and was particularly interested in the archaeology side of things, so decided to apply for the MSt in Classical Archaeology. My main academic interest lies in the subject area of Greek vase painting, and there is no better place to study Greek vases than Oxford, which houses the Beazley Archive. The MSt has made me even more passionate about Greek pots, which is why I am actually hoping to pursue a DPhil in Classical Archaeology!

What is your favourite part of the MSt?
I absolutely love the amount of freedom we are given to explore our own interests. This is very clear in the wide range of modules that I am taking: Lyric Poetry (involving ancient languages), Greek Vases (Greek archaeology), and Middle Imperial (Roman archaeology). We have to choose our own essay topics, and are encouraged to come up with our own arguments, which we then discuss in tutorials/classes. I also really like the postgraduate Classics community — attending, as well as presenting at, work-in-progress seminars and a graduate conference have definitely been the academic highlights of my degree so far.

Leonie in front of the rad cam wearing sub fusc at her undergraduate graduationHow do you think you have changed since walking through Univ’s doors for the first time?
The first time I walked through Univ’s doors was for my undergraduate interviews in December 2017. Since then, I have grown an incredible amount in confidence. The wonderful friends that I have made at Univ (and other colleges) have all played a big role in this, and so has Univ’s friendly and welcoming atmosphere!

What do you do in your role as MCR welfare officer? Have you got anything exciting planned?
Alongside the lovely Emily Rowland, I am one of the MCR’s two Welfare Officers. Members of the MCR can get in touch with us if they have any welfare-related questions or just fancy a chat. We also have meetings with the senior members of Univ’s welfare team to keep us up-to-date on any welfare-related matters. Another important part of our role is the promotion of mental well-being in the often stressful environment of Oxford by hosting welfare teas and yoga sessions. Emily and I are hoping to continue the great work of our predecessors, and we are also thinking of getting the MCR involved in the JCR’s fifth-week welfare events. Cuddle sessions with Lyra are probably our priority though.

Any tips for settling into Oxford/Univ life?
I went to the same Belgian school for sixteen years, and that school was only a five-minute walk from my home. Unsurprisingly, going to Oxford was a huge step for me, but Univ has now become my second home. My main piece of advice would be to be nice to yourself (I know, easier said than done). It is perfectly normal to feel homesick once in a while, and imposter syndrome hits even the seemingly most self-confident people. Just give yourself the time to grow, and do not feel pressured to do things that you do not want to do. Know that there are always people around to talk to — talking usually helps a lot!

Describe Univ in three words.
Lyra, Martlets, Percy.

Published: 19 April 2022

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