A Finn in Oxford
Venla - B.A. Economics and Management, University of Oxford
My name is Venla. I grew up in a small city called Oulu in Northern Finland, where I spent most of my time engaging with Maths, playing tennis and wandering around in the beautiful nature, fishing and hunting.
I have always had a quest to challenge myself and take every step even further. After studying three years in English in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program in Finland, I felt I had great potential for applying abroad, and that my resources would be wasted by staying in Finland. After highly enjoying Economics and its integral nature to the entire global community, I knew what I would like to study. I wanted to learn from world experts among top students, and that is the reason I applied for such a prestigious university. When comparing the courses between UK top universities, Oxford’s Economics and Management turned out to be perfectly tailored for myself. This possibility to combine both the theoretical and practical aspects of the global economy suited my future plans of joining the business world, and hence intrigued me to apply to the course.
The application process
The application process was very time consuming and intense. The first part of the UCAS application involved sending my predicted IB grades, personal statement and teacher's reference. I personally found writing the personal statement difficult as it is something no Finnish university does and hence, it was a totally new form of writing for me. The next step was the TSA Oxford test, which I flew to do in Helsinki; the test included Maths and critical thinking based multiple choice questions and an essay. After the tests I was lucky enough to be invited to interviews at Oxford in December (one in Economics and one in Management - a highly valuable experience of discussing with field experts!), and received my offer in January.
What is Oxford like?
My experience at Oxford so far has been even much better than expected. In the beginning there was of course many new things to learn, starting from navigating the city, opening a bank account, settling in to a different culture, and learning how to write the "Oxford essays". However, after that I have highly enjoyed the journey: the course fitted me perfectly, the studying atmosphere is amazing, and there is never a moment when you would not have something to do. Particularly, I have enjoyed the student societies, including rowing (which has become my favourite sport!), business & consultancy groups, big firm events and all social happenings from cocktail nights to college balls. I am extremely happy with my choice to study here and can warmly recommend the place for everybody interested in such a unique experience!
Tips for applicants from Finland
For prospective candidates I definitely recommend contacting students who have gone through the same application process. They are the people who can help you the most. In addition, putting a lot of effort in the personal statement and asking comments is very important, as well as is preparing for the TSA test. Most of all it is about the attitude and will to get in; everybody has a chance if they have the right mentality and strive for excellency!
My top tip for applicants from Finland is to get with touch with the Finnish students at Oxford, who can best help with the application process. Also, what I personally found very useful was doing the IB and getting used to both analytic writing and studying in English, which is not extensively possible in the national Finnish curriculum. Trust yourself and really put effort in the application process; I know it takes a lot of time, but in the end the reward of getting in is more than worth it!