On Wednesday 13 November we held our latest International Formal. These termly dinners take place throughout the year, each time with a different theme, and give international students the chance to come together as a community to enjoy some delicious food in Hall.

This term’s dinner was themed around Vietnam and its cuisine, with the menu chosen by a member of the JCR and including traditional Vietnamese spring rolls and dipping sauce, a classic Vietnamese beef stew, noodle soup, and fried banana with coconut cream for dessert. 

There were speeches from both the President and the JCR and MCR International Students Officers - Caroline Caruso Carter, studying Biochemistry, and Hira Javaid, studying for a DPhil in Oncology. 

Hira spoke very warmly of her time at St Johns, and how much the College feels like home to her, saying: 

“Growing up in different places, I didn’t really have a very deep sense of where home was. In certain places, you don’t feel like you belong and you don’t feel like that place is home, and I would always have this struggle and this questioning of where home was – until I came to St John’s. I really do mean this – this place feels more like home than any of the other homes that I’ve been in. I am almost in tears of joy every time I come back to Oxford, because I’ve never had such a strong ‘coming home’ feeling before in my life and it’s so precious. 

“Everyone has been so incredible and caring. The porters, for example, are just lovely and treat you like family. One consoled me for over an hour when I was upset and needed to talk to someone, another gave me bread and butter and jam when I mentioned in passing that I didn’t have anything for dinner. The Domestic Office has always gone above and beyond to make sure that I feel at home and I’m comfortable. And last year we started having halal food regularly in Hall which made it feel even more like home. 

“So I just really wanted to thank everyone. And this is what international formals are meant to celebrate: a community of international students coming together and feeling like St John’s is their home.”

You can watch a video of Hira giving her speech here.

International Formal Hall