Profile: Lydia Khechine
Lydia Khechine is in her second year at Univ studying History and Politics. She arrived in the UK when she was 12 years old. Lydia is the Racial Equality Officer for the JCR.
How did you come to Univ?
My visit to Univ was the highlight of the open day I attended back in 2018. I didn’t initially notice it from the High Street, then I was invited in and it seemed like a secret little world. It was a sunny day with the student helpers and refreshment stands set up in the Fellows’ Gardens which looked absolutely stunning — although I’m sure the scones helped too! I was lucky enough to have found a student helper who also did History and Politics, who then proceeded to give my sister and I a tour around Univ and answered all our questions about the course and the College. It was wholesome and encouraging, and the friendly atmosphere had me putting it on my UCAS application in no time.
After that, when I received an offer, I was also part of the Opportunity Programme (now Opportunity Oxford) and this commitment to access as well as the lovely time I had on the summer programme has Univ occupying a special place in my heart!
Do you think you’ve changed since you started at Univ? If so, how?
I’m glad to say that I’ve definitely grown since I started at Univ — even though it’s only been a year. The most notable growth has been in my confidence and in turn my tendency to get involved in things!
I’ve always been fascinated by my subject, had strong opinions about racial inequality and loved picking up hobbies, but the confidence I gained here has allowed me to apply and utilise these interests. I’m striving for postgraduate education after my degree, I was recently elected as the JCR’s Racial Equality Officer and I make a regular appearance at Univ’s Open Mics. It’s the little things!
How has coronavirus affected your work and life?
Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 has had a considerable impact on both my work – perhaps first and foremost by blurring the lines between the two! As we all know, Trinity term was completed from home which made studying at home without access to libraries and such very difficult.
This term, though, has been a significant improvement for me. Having access to my room in College, to libraries and to (socially distanced!) student life has certainly made things more manageable. My tutors have also been especially understanding and accommodating of difficult circumstances so I’m most definitely grateful for that!
Have you found anything about the History & Politics course surprising?
It is more pleasant than it is surprising, but one thing that I’ve noted is how my subject has aided my personal development. There is a great capacity for choice in History and Politics modules, which has allowed me to enjoy what I’m learning. Although, a potentially unexpected (though not shoking) discovery that I’ve made since starting my course is that I know very little in the grand scheme of things. The more I read, the more excited I get about things, the more I know that I don’t know, and the more I want to read!
In many ways, I guess one surprising element has been that learning does more to humble me and further my interest than it does to douse my curiosity!
Do you have anything you would like to say (advice or otherwise) to prospective applicants?
I know that for some — including a younger me — the very thought and consideration of Oxford as a destination can be very daring, and to that I say let yourself be daring! I didn’t consider Oxford to be a realistic destination a few years back despite enjoying thinking and talking academically about my interests. It wasn’t until I saw other students that were, shockingly to me, also working class, ethnic minorities etc. — that I realistically considered coming here. And so, I am reporting from the other side that despite the barriers that may stand in the way, there are also tools for support — summer schools, the Opportunity Programme, open days that you can use to learn more and access these institutions.
Then, if Oxford sounds like your cup of tea, I’d recommend you stop at Univ!
How do you find a work/life balance?
It would be a lie to say I’ve mastered this, but I find some relief in the fact that this is a work in progress for most people I meet! For me personally, I often find myself getting too caught up with work and not giving myself the necessary time and space to rest and recover, which is a bad idea for both wellbeing and academics.
To deal with that, I’ve tried to make self-care — be it doing the things I love, trying to keep my sleeping pattern decent or taking walk through University Parks — a priority. I find that giving myself an active break makes me feel refreshed and ready to tackle my next reading list!
Describe Univ in three words
Emboldening, thoughtful and homely!
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