Gareth is a 3rd year student

  • Home    Reading, England
  • Degree  Physics
  • A levels Maths, Further Maths, Physics

Gareth BirdWhat made you choose to study here?
I chose Oxford primarily for the quality of teaching and academic reputation. The personalised education the tutorial system gives you is fantastic. I know my tutors at John’s personally, as well as academically. They really care about your understanding of their subjects.

Is life here different from how you expected it to be?
I came here worried that Oxford was full of competitive students hiding in their rooms 23 hours a day. This isn’t true! St John’s’ on-site accommodation for all years allows you to meet and chat to a huge number of people on a daily basis just walking through College or grabbing food in Hall. We are a very friendly and inclusive community.

In terms of work, my expectations were pretty accurate. You very quickly fall into your own schedule for how you work best, and although there are busy weeks, the workload is manageable and I often find time to spend with friends or going to society events. 

What do you like about studying at St John’s?
The welfare support in College is great and makes it difficult to fall through the cracks. Academically, my tutors are happy to extend our understanding beyond what’s meant to be covered for the final exam. If you pop them an email before a tutorial about a specific detail you’re confused or intrigued about, they’ll happily go into more detail.

Socially, St John’s benefits hugely from having everybody on site for the duration of their degree, because it’s rare for you to walk across College in the day and not find someone you know to talk to if you want a chat.

Are there aspects of  your degree you particularly like?
Physics is an amazing, broad degree with lots of possible routes for specialisation. The Oxford course teaches you as wide a variety as possible until the third year, giving you strong theoretical groundings, especially in more fundamental subjects. The skills you learn are highly transferable and incredibly employable in both academia and corporate work. 

How do you like to spend your spare time?
I hang around with friends in College (drinking an excess of tea), compete as part of the College ultimate frisbee team and enjoy going to different societies’ events (subject societies, the real ale society, the tea appreciation society!).

What advice would you give someone looking to study at Oxford?
Enthusiasm and motivation to study your subject full-time, and an interest in communicating and discussing your understanding with others (including your tutors).