St John's College Oxford
Mary is a 2nd year student

  • Home    Lancashire, England
  • Degree  Classics and Oriental Studies (Egyptology)
  • A levels Ancient History, German, Philosophy, EPQ (AS French)

Mary CurwenWhat made you choose to study here?
One of the main reasons I chose St John’s was its proximity to the Classics faculty, as it meant I could get up at the last minute for all my early morning classes in my first year! For me it was also a priority to have guaranteed accommodation for the entirety of my course. John’s is also great for all the financial support it provides in the way of annual academic grants, travel grants, free printing etc.

I chose to study at Oxford as it boasts one of the top Classics faculties, and unlike Cambridge gives you the opportunity to choose which language you would like to study if you have never done either before, and I appreciated this freedom of choice. I also don’t remember coming across the option to study Classics and Egyptology at any of the other universities I looked at, so Oxford offered something a little more niche.

Is life here different from how you expected it to be?
I was pleasantly surprised to find such a strong community feeling in College, not having expected it because of the fairly large student body, but there is a strong integration between the different year groups – another perk of having accommodation onsite for all years.

Naturally I expected the work to be difficult and the pace of the term to be intense, but I definitely underestimated the sheer intensity and demand associated with having to learn a dead language in a year.

What do you like about studying at St John’s?
I am grateful for its proximity to both the Classics faculty and the Sackler (Classics and History of Art) Library. I have also been lucky to have a mix of joint tutorials and one-to-ones for my essay topics, with both styles having complementary merits.

There is a lot of academic support available in College, as tutors will always find ways to accommodate you if you feel you are struggling, and the College is incredibly supportive if you have any problems – for example College offered to help pay for an external Greek tutor for me over the summer.

Being part of the Boat Club means I have been able to make friends with a number of undergrads and postgrads whom I may not otherwise have met, and the post-race dinners are always fun. There are also always plenty of events going on in College, such as free welfare lunches, environmental brunches, guest dinners, concerts etc.

Are there aspects of  your degree you particularly like?
Classics enables you to study literature, history, archaeology, language and philosophy, so it’s a very interdisciplinary subject. It also provides good grounds for travel and voluntary work, for which College may offer financial support. 

How do you like to spend your spare time?
I cox for the College Boat Club, and when I am able I play netball for the College team.  I have also been attending the ballroom/Latin dance classes which started in College this year.

What advice would you give someone looking to study at Oxford?
It’s important to have a passion for the subject you wish to study, as this will give you the self-motivation which is needed to take on the challenges presented by each week’s work.