Catz win big in Rio Rowing Eights

Catz Olympians

Ten days in and it has already been a historic Olympic games for Team GB. It’s also a significant one for St Catherine’s Alumni Andrew Triggs Hodge MBE (2004, Geography and the Environment) and Zoe De Toledo (2010, Experimental Psychology), who have won Gold and Silver medals in the Rowing Eights.

More experiences and advice from former Visiting Students

Chris Dowd, Tufts University, full year 2015-2016

The alley ways surrounding the Examination School are lined with glitter and shaving cream, the Thames River moves like a highway for Punts operated by procrastinators and adventurers alike, and tutorials are moved from department offices to the quad. I can only promise that the first two will also be a part of your Oxford experience.

Trinity term is coming to an end. With just one week left, I have tried to reflect on the people, places, and peculiarities of my experience at St. Catherine’s College which has made it one of the best years of my life, the memories of which I will always cherish.

The university, as they should, often expresses how special Oxford is by virtue of the people it attracts. This term alone, I have been addressed by the likes of Mohammad Yunus, Buzz Aldrin, John Kerry, Ingrid Bettencourt, and “Stormzy.” But being surrounded on a daily basis by some of the most curious minds and hearts I have ever encountered it was a quick and certain realization that you don’t have to attend an oversubscribed lecture at the Sheldonian Theatre to find passion and insight.

 For example, in my second tutorial in Comparative Demographics Systems, a central course to the understanding of how populations have evolved and the mechanisms they have used to control their own expansion, from isolated hunter-gatherers to the modern urban dweller, I questioned how the evolution of the internet and higher rates of connectivity between communities are challenging the field. My tutor smiled, reached for a book off his crowded shelf that he had recently published on that exact topic, and urged me to read it for our next meeting, although it was not on our planned syllabus.

Especially for visiting students, the tutorial system is one that allows you to experiment, guide your own learning, and drastically improve your writing and argumentative skills. For me, it helped to attend the Thursday evening debates at the Oxford Union to hear masterful orators at work, and try to learn from their structure and poise when tested with questions, something that often occurs in tutorials. You must not be wary of reading outside of your field, I came in dedicated to Development Economics and National Security Studies, now I’m exploring Creative Writing and the History of Architecture. Most visiting students have experienced something similar.

            When you tell students from other colleges at Oxford that you are at St. Catz, you may get one or all of the following reactions:

  1. I love Catz! They will then go on to list some some of great friends they have met at the college.
  2. You are so lucky to be next to the river and University Parks!
  3. A sense of confusion regarding the architecture at Catz, and why it doesn’t exactly fit the classical order of most other colleges at the university. They might say something like, “it’s really modern!” – coupled with a confused facial expression.

I have come to reconcile these comments: Catz is an architecturally brave college where its students reflect its spaces. The students are socially and academically adventurous, they do not accept circumstances as they are, but are always looking to improve the shared experience. This notion rings true in my mind and pocket, as my phone constantly rings with notifications from the Catz JCR Facebook Page. The page is a place for people to offer services to the community, present ideas for how we can better accommodate the various needs of the college, and post events or clever jokes.  It is one of countless ways that I see the Catz community shine as one where shared interests, selflessness, teamwork, and humor are central. A mission that everyone is proud of, and takes seriously.

            It should thus come as no surprise that the inclusive spirit of St. Catherine’s College makes it the best Oxford college for visiting students. We were included immediately upon arrival. In fact, my Fresher’s Group leader has become one of my best friends, and teachers at college.

My experience as a member of the Catz Rugby Team was an example of this to the highest degree, a sport I had never played before and one whose rules I still do not fully understand. Weekly crew dates, team dinners, and a tour to Prague over the Easter vacation, this team laid the foundation for my college pride -- I highly recommend that any visiting student who joins the Catz community to get involved in a sport or extracurricular that interests them, regardless of experience.  

Certainly Oxford can be overwhelming. Coming to a place where most pubs are older than my country, sitting face-to-face with professors who wrote the textbook I struggled with till the late evening hours, and during an evening walk back to college overhearing tour guides explain to tourists in countless languages, “in that building lies the white board where Albert Einstein first explained his Theory of Relativity,” or “this lamp post was the inspiration for the one in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia,” or my favorite, “this is the pub where Bill Clinton supposedly did not inhale.“ A place of mystery and mastery, where on a daily basis you can feel the most inspired and confused you have ever been. That is the beauty, and the Catz community will support you at every step along the way.

My best advice: make it your own.

We recently received this wonderful surprise from our Visiting Students who were here in 2012-2013. Please have a look here at their experiences since leaving St Catherine's.  

Rahul Ramwani Article

 Going in the flashback of such wonderful time was emotional, and difficult to return back to the present. Here are some of my thoughts. It is longer than I thought. So if you want I can try to shorten it. As far as the video is concerned, I think this is the best I could do.

The only thing I knew (and know) about Oxford University is that it is a place where only the most intelligent people in the world study…just like a paradise of knowledge and excellence. The scholarship allowed me to live the Oxford experience for the Trinity Term 2016 (April-June) at one of the friendliest college- St. Catz and it turned out to be the best two months of my life.

As a Visiting Student at St. Catherine’s College (St Catz) I studied Strategic Management (SM) and Psychology as my primary/ major and secondary/ minor subjects respectively. The reason why I chose SM as my major is that it would help me back in my home university. My tutor- Dr. Ian Jones is the most knowledgeable person I have ever met when it comes to business studies. His immense experience as a consultant and in academics made our discussions very enriching and challenging. Astrid Van den Bosshe taught me psychology. The course that I studied was a mix of consumer behaviour, advertising, persuasion and social psychology. During school days, I used to watch documentaries on Nat Geo and Discovery channels about the human brain and psychology which developed an interest. But, Oxford gave me a golden opportunity to find new horizons by choosing a subject that I had never before studied. Fortunately, in fact, very fortunately, Astrid Van den Bossche was the one who could fulfil my dream of studying such a dynamic subject. Consumer behaviour was the essence of our meetings and also of her research. Being a marketer, how essential it is to be empathetic to understand the consumer is what I learnt. Her openness for suggestions for my following tutorials and her ability to give me exactly what I wanted was out of this world. To ensure that I did not miss out opportunities in Oxford where world’s greatest leaders came to talk to the students, I continuously looked for events, seminars, talks and presentations. Some of them are Dr. Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Christine Amanpour, Andrea Jung, management lectures at Said Business School (SBS) and many more. I got goose bumps when I got the opportunity to ask a question to Muhammed Yunus, one of the most popular Noble laureates and the man about whom I had read so much in Economics.

Oxford is such a prestigious institution because of its approach to develop a student not only in academics but also thousands of other activities. This was reflected in terms of infrastructure, facilities and more importantly their encouragement to students to engage in such activities. There was not even a single student whom I came across not doing extra-curricular or co-curricular activities. Be it sports, management or even any hobby like stargazing. Oxford allows everyone to start their own new society where everyone can participate. However, just having clubs and societies is not sufficient, running them efficiently to the highest extent so that everyone gets equal opportunity for managing and participating in different activities. Every society has a budget and a proper system of functioning where the heads of the department have to be transparent in their activities not only to the college/university but also to the members and other students. For example, the Junior Common Room (JCR) which every college has, have open meetings every Sunday where they discuss the progress in initiatives and give right to every student, regardless of his/her background a chance to voice their ideas and suggestions. The JCR committee is a perfect symbol of democracy; elected by the students, for the students and of the students. Each candidate writes their manifesto and has to face tough questions and challenges to win the hearts and votes of people. This entire practice gives students a chance to develop their leadership and countless other skills.

Apart from academics, we were engaged in a lot of other activities. Cricket is something that I am really into and it is in my blood and England is the perfect place to enjoy cricket to the greatest extent. We practiced regularly and played quite a number of matches for our college. For the first time since so many years, Catz Cricket Team made it to the semi-finals. I was always looking for new things to try and so I landed up in dance cuppers (University level competition) trying to match my feet with the quick Latin beats. Never heard about Jive and still made it to the quarter finals, making my college proud by making a mark in the competition. Our friends were amazed in a month of our term as we were looked upon as champions in pool. Right from the time when I first took the cue in my hands and potted the first ball till the last day, I had taken a huge leap in skills to play the game. At times, Shubham and I used to take matches against people from different nationalities and even when we lost, we won their hearts every time. There is no feeling to beat a person in squash who has been playing it since childhood, especially when you are doing it for the first time. The classic Oxford (and Cambridge) punting experience gave us ample time to rest and enjoys the birds chirping, the ducks quacking and rests our eyes in the beautiful greenery. It was also one of the unique ways to chill with our friends and discuss about religion, cultures, academics, sports, politics, Christianity, Hinduism, World Wars, philosophy and topics we never imagined of. The fun part was when we organized a Bollywood Movie Night in the JCR. Everyone loved the way we managed the event and specially the Punjabi Samosas and Chai. Since authentic Indian food is rare to find in UK, we made some for them and they loved it! As a gesture, they made us some French, Italian and British food.

As we just had two months in hand, we tried to take the most out of it. Our main objective was to excel in every activity we do and make as many friends as possible. Some of them who were close to us said that we made more friends than them in 2 months! They also were surprised (and a bit jealous) because we managed to go for a Formal Hall Dinner at Christ Church College (where Harry Potter was shot). They couldn’t manage to get in even after being in Oxford for 3 years! Shubham and I used to go to for as many events as possible which allowed us to explore Oxford and meet more people. One of the basic criteria in selecting the event when we had two or more at the same time was to see where we could make more friends. Naomi was impressed by this approach of ours, and she appreciated us during the Valedictory party to give an example for openness to the audience.

From day 1, we were always in our running shoes. It was the time when we had to be the best at self-management. The two months, we ran continuously from point A to B and enjoyed each and every moment of our time. After meeting so many people from countries like US, Columbia, Sri Lanka, China, France, Spain, Russia, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand and more, everyone appreciated the Indian culture, but not even one of them thought of following it. Many of them even turned vegetarian because it is better for the environment. On the contrary, I feel that India is stuck between the Indian and the Western culture. It is very important to be open to different ideas of different cultures, but it should be taken as a learning experience. Throughout my term I remembered Raghuram Rajan’s opinion of instability of the Indian economy if it did not give up its Jugaad approach of thinking. Having a system is important, but it is more

important to follow a system without compromising.

At last, I feel that every day at Oxford was a day of high intellectual stimulation, not only in academics, but broadly teaching you how to live your life better and influence others. Surrounded by people who are the future leaders of the world and trying to solve some of the biggest problems of the world, why they do what they do, how well do they do it and their effort to make world a better place in the smallest of way makes it so special for me.

Oxford (or Ohksfud) will always remain very close to my heart...always

Please see my video of my time at stcatz 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=py7QM0AX4gs

 

 

 

 

 

Rahul Ramwani

Rahul made a video of his time  here at St Catherine's,  please click the link below to view it.
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=py7QM0AX4gs

Priyesh Sawlani

 

It's unimaginable that a basic flier on a college notice board could be a start to a journey, which in a certain sense, is transformational. This journey, to St Catherine's College, University of Oxford was not only a great learning experience in all aspects but one which shaped my choices about the course of my career. With just a year towards the end of my graduation, I had come to Oxford with a dilemma in mind - whether to be self-employed or an employee. As I advanced through my tutorials of Business Management, the clearer choice of the two options came out through my essays and tutorial discussions, which only revolved around my experience of my father's manufacturing business, of which I had been an active part for a few years. And here I am today, assisting my father in his business, and close to expanding into a new vertical shortly.

However, life isn't just business. St Catherine's gave me a new hobby - photography. It was here that I could explore photography and take it up as an active interest. Today, I usually spend weekends roaming around in my city, with a camera as my companion!

Betty and Donald Keating Scholarship has been a lifetime opportunity, and being a Keating Scholar is no less than being a Rhodes Scholar!
 

Kashish Saluja

The nine weeks that I spent at Oxford will always be one of the most cherished memories of my life. St. Catherine’s offered such a dynamic and friendly atmosphere that even though I was there for a term, people welcomed me with open arms. Being selected as a Keating scholar also gave me the option to choose from a wide variety of subjects and I made sure I chose Philosophy, Politics and Economics, a combination that always intrigued me and was also one of the most unique courses offered at Oxford. My time there was not only limited to academics, as I learnt ballroom dancing and represented Catz as a member of the Ballroom Dancing Cuppers team along with being a regular member of the Cricket and Volleyball teams. The Betty and Donald Keating Scholarship is not just a scholarship that funds you to study at Oxford for a term, but a life changing experience that will offer you numerous opportunities and you need to make best use of them in that limited time. The best part about this experience is that it does not just end there, as you develop such a wide network of people from all around the globe that you are continuously presented with interesting opportunities and a chance to visit each other in your respective home countries. I have already hosted two of my friends from Oxford and visited others in America when I went there to attend a UN youth conference recently.

I am currently working as an Analyst with Dalberg Global Development Advisors, a strategic development consultancy firm, in their Mumbai office.
 
I would just like to express my thanks and regards to Mr. Keating and his family for starting this generous programme and helping us give life to our dreams. I look forward to visiting the campus again, especially to attend the grand Catz Ball.
 

Rachna Bhutoria

It's been a year since I came to Oxford and I still relive every single day and I am now determined to come back to study for a Masters degree.

 

I wanted to thank you for making our stay so comfortable and giving us the chance to study at the most prestigious university in the world. Whenever Lolita , Priyesh and I meet we remember the warmth with which you greeted us and the opportunities you gave which has gone a long way in shaping us as individuals. Thank you for helping us study in a manner we have never experienced before, and in a way we would never forget.

 

P.S. Our parents are officially tired of listening to our Oxford stories but only someone who has experienced Oxford can possibly know what we mean

 

Kennith Rosario

I studied Creative Writing and Literary Criticism at St. Catz as a Betty and Donald Keating Scholar in 2013. I'm currently working as a journalist with India Today Television in New Delhi after graduating from St. Xavier's College - Autonomous, Mumbai and completing my post-graduation from the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai.

 

In many ways, Trinity term of 2013 at St. Catz remains as one the most treasured and inspiring summers of my student life. Each tutorial in those 9 weeks were packed with intense discussion and peppered with lighthearted conversation, often in cafe over a pot of English tea. The University of Oxford, and particularly St. Catz, not just helped me evolve as a writer but also immersed me in quintessential British culture; be it playing croquet, feasting on Summer Pudding, punting on River Cherwell, or simply cycling along the river bank with ducks and swans for company. St. Catz is also where I met some of the most fascinating and inspiring students from around the world, from whom I learnt a great deal.

Oxford for me is a magical city of dreaming spires, where gargoyles guard the town, bridges and arches tell a story, writers write under a tree on the riverside, where you read with your friends, laugh with your tutor and sleep with your books.

Lalita Tangirala

Having graduated recently, I am a Political Science major now and I have applied to various colleges in India to pursue a Masters degree in the same field. I had taken Political Science and Journalism related courses during my two month stay at Catz. From playing for the college Volleyball team to Zumba lessons, learning about the UK election process, discussing gender issues with some like minded people, the best part about my stay was the diversity at Catz in particular and Oxford in general which made me change the way I look at a lot of things. With independence I learnt responsibility and discipline which the tutorial structure infused in me and with travelling and exploring by own I learnt how beautiful the UK is. I recount all these places, my tutorials, the fun I had with all the people I met and realised that I owe this life-changing experience to the Keating scholarship which made my stay so easy and comfortable there. All the staff and students, who are warm and so helping, have taught me valuable life lessons I'm going to cherish for the rest of my life. While at Catz, I experienced the same joy while punting or while reading late into the night in their library or interacting with friends in the JCR.

I hope my successors have the same fun as I did and revel in eight weeks of life-changing moments at St. Catherine's College.

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