Rahul Ramwani Article

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