Application

 Oxford

 Merton

 Classical Archaeology and Ancient History

 2008

 rejected

Applicant

 Other qualifications

 pre-qualification

 EU

 Netherlands

 Comprehensive School

To the above: I am going to a normal Dutch highschool, I am not sure what a comprehensive school is, but I think it might be similar.

 yes

Other qualifications

My diploma will include 18 subjects, 6 of which I’d already completed at the time of my application. We receive marks from 1 to 10. An 8 is similar to an A.

Sociology (9), History1 (9), Science (9), Ancient History (10), Art and Design (8), French1 (7), German12, English (normal and IB), Latin, Ancient Greek, IT, PE, Dutch, Dutch Literature, Art History, MathA1 (economic math), History12.
(The difference between ‘1’ and ’12’ means that ’12’ is more in depth.)

Other universities

yes

no

Haven’t heard from my other choices yet. I’ll update later.

Decisions about the application

For starters, CAAH is a pretty useless degree, so I wanted to go somewhere prestigious to impress future employers. My main reason though is because of Oxford’s history. What would be a better environment for a historian to study in? Also, I liked the course outline, the way classes are taught and the community itself.

Cambridge doesn’t offer the course! Haha. Oxford also just felt better somehow. More… warm. I think that’s just something odd about me though.

Everything I do in life, I connect to ancient history. For example I really like computers and games, which is the opposite of ancient Greek vases… but when I think about creating a game, it has an ancient theme.

Merton is one of the oldest colleges. And I had to make a choice at some point haha, so that seemed like a good thing to go with. I would have slept on a bench in the park though, of Oxford had taken me.

Preparation

yes

Nothing whatsoever. In fact, they told me they would have preferred it if I didn’t make a fuss and just stayed in the Netherlands.

I think, for CAAH at least, if you just really enjoy your subject, you will always be reading about it, doing things with it, and so on… so a lifetime of that is plenty of preparation.

Then again, I did get rejected. But in my interviews I didn’t feel unprepared at all.

Interview

yes

No. I wish I could have! It would have proven that I AM good at this subject, instead of having them study my confusing Dutch marks.

yes

Yes. I didn’t have any written work, so I sent in one English literature essay, and a tutor set me a subject for a second essay. It was quite difficult (since I only had 3 days at that point) but I enjoyed it a lot.

yes

Again, I wish I had.

I thought they were fine!

I had one interview at Merton, for ancient history. It was all good up until the end where I wasn’t able to answer a question completely. I did also manage to point something out they didn’t know though! So I went out feeling ok.

I had my archaeology interview at Oriel (there were only 4 applicants over both colleges, so they joined forces). It also went fine. I had to analyse two objects (one image). I gave the completely wrong answers in the end, but I think my reasoning was ok, and there was never a silence, etc.

Then the next morning I suddenly had an interview at Somerville, so I raced over there. The tutors were very friendly. As it was ancient history and archaeology at once, all in twenty minutes, I had to analyse a piece of text with images beforehand which we discussed in the interview, then in the interview I was given another piece of text to analyse. It was all quite hard, but I still thought I did fine.

It was a wonderful experience. I am very sad I won’t meet the other applicants again. They were all so lovely.

Some things about that bloody essay the tutor had set me (I enjoyed writing it, yes! But I wasn’t suddenly an expert on the subject!). Everyoneee loved asking questions about that one (it was on erotic art in Pompeii, so it was also slightly embaressing).
Then some things about my personal statement. I had mentioned some things I’d previously done with ancient history (oracles, and Pompeii) and they asked about that. It was a long time ago, but since I have visisted several oracles a couple of times I had enough memories to keep the interview going.
They also asked which ancient writers I’d read (only bits, so none really… that was bad) and a lot about sources and source comparison. I don’t care much for sources myself (why ruin the magic) so that was hard, but manageable.

I remember before my interviews I personally really wanted to know about the artifacts or sources I’d have to analyse. Now that I’ve been there and done it I really can’t say how you could prepare… I’d memorised how to date some pottery and such (because I think that’s interesting) but they didn’t even let me complete my magnificent sentence about that. I don’t really think they pushed me a lot though. At one point they wondered which god the eagle in the image could represent. Really…
Just try to keep reasoning and they’ll help you along. I said “This can’t be a seal. It’s far too large and …” and after a while they said “That’s very good, but it -is- a seal…”.

A nice skirt and top and nice shoes. I put a lot of thought in to it (since I couldn’t really prepare in any other way). I wanted to look casual and feel comfortable, but not as if I hadn’t put any effort in to it. Also it was COLD so to my interview at Somerville I wore a sweater (still a nice one though).

Impressions

Merton was amazing. The food was very dissappointing though, for the reputation it supposedly had.
I also really loved Oriel and wouldn’t have minded to be pooled there.

Somerville looked much less nice (historically), but the people there were even friendlier than everywhere else and I would have loved to be taught by the tutors that interviewed me. There, too, I wouldn’t have minded to have ended up.

At Merton I apparently got a third year room. I thought it was fine and wonderful and I wish I could have lived there some day… But it really was a lot less nice than they had made me believe. You had to walk over to the shower across the hallway. I’d expected a third year room to be a lot better. But really, it was good anyway.

I really didn’t like it. I admit, I didn’t eat breakfast for three days because I was so nervous… but after having tried lunch and dinner once, I skipped it and ate out the rest of my stay. I think one night they had very good scones though. I was especially dissappointed by the tea in the morning. It’s the UK! What happened to the awesome tea?!
I think I would have liked a college with kitchen facilities to cook my own food (which Merton apparently hasn’t really got).

I didn’t eat at any of the other colleges though, so maybe the food at Merton is amazing in comparison.

They were all wonderful! I am really very sad I won’t get to learn from them…

I only really met one or two, and they were awesome. I think they work really hard though. That’s not a problem for me at all (highschool is killing me so nothing can be worse, especially when you’re studying a subject you love), but maybe other applicants underestimate that a little bit.

Final stage

I think I felt very nervous. I didn’t expect an offer, but at the same time, I felt my application and essays and interviews were all very good, so I couldn’t console myself by saying “well, you messed that up…” in order for a rejection to hurt less.

My mother called me while I was on the train in Sweden (holiday). I was so shocked and I cried for about two hours. I really don’t know why… I never expected to get in but I was SO upset anyway.

I am fine now, but I still dream about it for some reason, begging the tutors to let me in and telling them they made a mistake. I guess somewhere I’m still hurt and confused. But in the daytime, I’m fine. I’m sure I’ll do great somewhere else, and I’ll reapply for my MA.

Looking back

Yes. It was a good experience no matter what. I can’t help but thinking though, that flying all the way to those interviews was a HUGE waste of money. However, I’d do it again…

Do A-levels or the IB. It was HELL to apply with my Dutch marks and Dutch school and all of that. I think I should have moved to the UK three years ago to do A-levels and everything would have been a lot easier. I’m not saying it would have been better… but just oh so much easier.

I think my situation was pretty unique though, so my advice might not be very helpful.