Student Ambassador: Bethan Hughes

Bethan Hughes

Year: Three

Subject: English

Where are you from?: Bethesda, North Wales

Best thing about your course?

I love the freedom given to us at Merton to explore periods of literature, and develop our own understanding of texts, whilst being supported devotedly by our tutors.

How has Oxford changed you?

Oxford has made me far more confident and given me an invaluable skill set beyond those that came with my degree. I’ve taken part in running societies, committees and even a ball, and I’ve loved every minute of it. I’ve made public speeches, presented awards, and I feel as if Oxford has shaped me into someone who’s ready to face the 'real' post-university world.

What were you worried about before you arrived?

I worried I'd be completely alone in a new city, with no support system or social life. I was so so wrong! The college family system really helped me - you’re paired with two mentors in the year above who are your 'parents' (one does your subject and one does your college sibling's subject), and a 'sibling'. This meant I had been in touch with at least three people before rocking up to Oxford. I really hit it off with my college family, because we're still friends now after two years! I also made a load of new friends who lived in my house in first year, as well as friends from all over the university. Almost everyone’s in the same position, in that they’re coming to university for the first time, and just like everywhere there’s a lot of friendly (and not-so-friendly) people. But the friends I’ve made at Merton and at Oxford, and keep making (you don’t just stop in first year), feel like they’ll be friends for a long time. They’ve supported me through the ups and downs of first and second year, and I don’t know what I’d do without them.

What new opportunities have you had?

I’ve had the chance to be on the JCR committee, as Access Representative for a brief period. I’ve also worked at Student Conferences for the university, as a helper at Open Days for the college, and as a helper during the interviews period. I was part of the ball committee for Glitterball, an LGBTQ+ ball - and seeing that all come together was probably the highlight of my year! It was a great night, and knowing my hard work made over 600 guests have an unforgettable night was great! I’ve had a chance to try out drama, and being a playwright, when I rewrote Hamlet for the #hamlet project.

How do you cope with the workload?

I didn’t very well in my first two years - taking on way too much, and sacrificing sleep and health so that I could keep up with the work and social side. But what I’d advise is buy a diary, and know that sometimes you have to compromise. A good schedule should keep you on track. Remember that just because someone works 12 hours a day, doesn’t mean they’re working 12 good hours - so if you can do what they do in 12, in five, then you’re more effective and you have free time. The workload is doable, but speak to your tutors if you feel like you’re struggling, and remember that struggling a little to begin with isn’t a sign of failure, it’s a sign of adjustment.

Favourite place to go out?

I love Plush, which is Oxford’s LGBTQ+ club. They support the 'Good Night Out' campaign, and have a zero-tolerance policy for harassment or queerphobic behaviour. I almost always feel safe when I’m at Plush.

What do you do in the holidays?

I'm a seasonal worker at a local family fun park, I work as a server at a Chinese takeaway, and I teach English to Chinese children. I also like to see my friends from home, meet up with friends from university if possible (but this is hard because of distance), and try to get some academic work done! The more of the reading list you get read in the holiday, the easier things are for you!

What are tutorials like?

Sometimes they can feel a bit like you’re being tested. But the best ones feel like a one-to-one (or maybe two-to-one) conversation with one of the most beautiful and brilliant academics in your field of study.

What is wearing sub fusc like?

Wearing sub fusc is a bit like putting on battle armour. I feel ready for exams once it’s on.