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My Oxford University Experience

University of Oxford campus

To be honest, there aren’t many things that would persuade me to spend my holidays at university, but the chance to study at Oxford University was never a matter in which I needed convincing. Last year I attended Oxford’s International Human Rights summer school and it was the highlight of my education experience to date.

The five-week program was very intensive. I studied Introduction to International Human Rights Law and my choice of elective, International Refugee Law. Classes ran from 9am to 3pm every day, with the exception of one long weekend and a free Thursday. These days were dedicated to exam preparation, although I may have spent the long weekend in London…

My teachers were amazing. My main lectures were Colin Harvey, a world-renowned expert on displaced people and Professor of Human Rights Law at Queen’s University Belfast, and Magdalena Sepúlveda, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. I also attended lectures given by numerous other Special Rapporteurs and UN advisers.

It wasn’t all hard work though! The weather was un-naturally (it is England after all) beautiful and everyone in the course took full advantage of it. There was lots of lazing in the sun on the college green as we churned through our required readings, BBQs organized by the lovely student deans, some afternoon tea at the museum, a ghost tour and plenty of other traditional Oxford adventures like punting.

Some wonderful formal dinners also gave us the opportunity to give our eyes a rest from all the books and let our hair down. The weeks quickly flew by in this fashion, with us travelling from the libraries to the dance floor and back into class again. We drank in all the details of Oxford that only students know and tourists never discover.

Looking back, it is hard to put into words just how life changing my experience at Oxford was. While I have always had a passion for human rights, my Oxford experience gave me knowledge and confidence, and was certainly the deciding factor in my decision to pursue a career in human rights law. Having leading human rights experts listen as you speak and treat your ideas and thoughts with merit really brought back my passion for learning law. So much so that I’m now studying a Masters of Law specializing in International Human Rights.

I came away from my Oxford experience with friends I’ll keep for a lifetime, experience many people take years to acquire, a renewed passion for learning and a definite legal career path. Admittedly, the chance to flash my really cool personalized Bodleian library card around from time to time is pretty awesome too.

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