Return to ORA…as a counsellor! | Oxford Royale Summer Schools

At Oxford Royale, we work very hard to ensure our students have an amazing time with us over the summer. So when they choose to come back to us as counsellors, we couldn’t be more thrilled, as it means they can’t bear to leave us behind in the past.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing some of our ex-students stories, about their return to ORA as counsellors, and their lives beyond.
First up is Irina from Romania, who joined us for summer 2015, and returned in 2017 as a counsellor. This is her ORA story.

Is there a better way to spend part of a summer?

“It was the summer of 2015, the year of “Je suis Charlie”, and I was on the edge of 17. This was the summer I went to study with Oxford Royale. I had received a scholarship to study the Global Leadership Programme at St. Hugh’s College, which introduces young people to topics in International Relations, Economics and Political Theory. Because I wanted to apply for a Politics, Philosophy and Economics degree at university, this programme was the perfect opportunity for me to experience studying these subjects as they are not taught extensively in Romanian high schools. I felt that the knowledge I was getting out of high school was not enough for me enable me to either completely grasp the meaning of an Economist article or debate current affairs, which is another reason why I applied for an ORA scholarship. Of course I ended up learning much more than that.
The two weeks I spent at ORA challenged me to think about Social Justice and introduced me to Rawls’ Veil of Ignorance, the distribution of resources, the 2008 financial crisis, the ideals and dynamics of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, free speech and terrorism, and countless other issues which opened my mind to a world of ideas and sparked my interest to further pursue them through individual research. I am now entering my second year at King’s College London where I am studying Political Economy and I can say wholeheartedly that the insights into Political Theory concepts and principles of Economics I gained from ORA as well as the critical thinking and essay writing abilities laid a great foundation for me to build on in my first year.
The most important activity that I was involved at King’s is “Roar”, King’s College’s student newspaper, where I will return as Deputy Editor next year. My activity at the newspaper enabled me to experience events from boxing matches to cleaners’ strikes and environmental protests. My passion for writing and for the subjects I study as a degree along with my curiosity about current affairs made me consider, amongst others, a career in journalism. However, I would only be telling half of the story if I forgot to mention how, after asking a few of my friends at ORA to read one of my essays for the Global Leadership Programme on the 1989 Romanian Revolution, they got enthusiastic about my writing and insisted that they see me writing for a national or even international publication.

But Oxford Royale was not all about academic preparation. In fact, the free time activities played an equal part in my experience. We went to the Churchill War Rooms in London, we saw Shakespeare in the park, watched the Lion King in the West End, went punting, spent countless hours in Blackwell’s bookshop, and learnt how to speak English with a strong Spanish accent. I made friends from all over the world with whom I still talk – I’ve met a few of them in London this year and it was exciting to discover how each of us had changed, but also how it felt almost as if none of us had ever left the Common Room at St. Hugh’s.
I still get goosebumps when I remember a girl from Venezuela explaining her country’s crisis to us. When I walk to King’s, I sometimes go past the Lyceum Theatre where we watched the Lion King musical and smile. Every time I pass a Ben’s Cookies shop in London I remember how one of my now best friends left one of their red boxes in front of my room on my last day in Oxford. You go to ORA for two weeks and come back with friends and experiences that last a lifetime.
It is the summer of 2017, the summer I returned to ORA as a Counsellor. Talking to the students and sharing my experience with them made me realize how much ORA mattered to me as a starting block, but also how much it still matters in terms of friendships and memories. I have encouraged a couple other high school students from my home town to apply for scholarships at ORA, and a very talented girl was successful and went to study the same Programme as I did last year. I take the opportunity of this post to extend my invitation to all of you.”

If you would like to re-join ORA as a counsellor, visit our career’s page to find out more!

Images: st hugh’s collegeking’s college london;