Name: Francesca Lovell-Read
Where are you from?: Wokingham
I was a little biased in favour of Merton before I even started considering which college to apply to, as my older sister was already a student here so I had heard all about what a wonderful college it was! When I really started looking, in addition to Merton’s formidable academic reputation I initially shortlisted Merton for several practical reasons, including the fact that they provide accommodation for the duration of your degree, and that you have access to both meals in hall and good kitchen facilities. However, my mind was really made up when I visited Merton on an open day – I fell in love with it as soon as I walked through the gates and never looked back!
Best thing about Merton?
There are so many wonderful things about Merton, it’s impossible to pick just one! Merton is such an incredible place in which to live and study, not least because of its beauty and history, and the traditions which are so much a part of life here. However, what has really made my time at Merton so special is the group of friends I have made here, and I think that in general the lovely community of people here is Merton’s greatest asset.
Best thing about your course?
The maths course at Oxford is really good, because it gives you a lot of flexibility to pursue areas which particularly interest you. After first year, which gives you a really solid grounding in some really fundamental areas, you begin to be allowed to specialise, and in third and fourth year you have completely free rein over your choice of modules. Whether you are interested in algebraic topology, mathematical biology or the psychology of mathematics education, you have the freedom to explore whatever fascinates you the most.
Best thing about Oxford?
One of the things I love most about Oxford is the amount of history surrounding you at every turn. It’s very special to feel that you are following in the footsteps of all the incredible people who came before you. Whether it’s eating breakfast at the table JRR Tolkien once ate at or sitting your exams in the same room that Stephen Hawking sat his, it sort of makes you feel like anything is possible.
Best thing about the collegiate system?
I think that the best part about the collegiate system is the enhanced sense of community that a college provides. From the moment you arrive, being part of a college gives you a sense of belonging and an almost automatic group of friends, and your college remains a focal point of your life throughout your time in Oxford. Having that college identity really helps you find your feet in a new city.
Most important thing you’ve learnt?
The most important thing Oxford has taught me is to believe in myself more. Studying here has been really challenging, and it’s taken a lot of perseverance to get to where I am - but it’s been worth every second for the all of the incredible experiences I’ve had along the way.