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Student at ORA's Oxford Summer School, 2013, 2016 & 2017

  • Course type

    Course: New Perspectives, Introduction to Law, Law School Preparation

  • Location

    From: Greece

  • Age

    Age: 16 years old

Highlights from Sara’s experience

  • First attended ORA’s Oxford Summer School in 2013, taking the New Perspectives course
  • Returned in 2016 to follow the Introduction to Law course at St Hugh’s College. Then attended ORA’s Cambridge Summer School in 2017, studying Law School Preparation at Clare College
  • Now has aspirations to study Law at a UK university

“Year after year the allure of ORA has pulled me back. I met many different people during my first two weeks in ORA, from different cultures and backgrounds.”

My journey with ORA began in 2013, when I was only thirteen years old and was panicking about whether or not I would make any friends. It was a windy August and the weather wasn’t something I was used to in Greece. My sisters went the year before and were insisting that this would be one of the best experiences of my life – as always they were right.

I had a strong passion for mathematics the first time I attended ORA, so I decided that it would benefit me to strengthen my abilities by taking part in the New Perspective’s Mathematics and Economics course, along with Art & Photography workshop. The idea of being in a classroom with children, who I was certain would know much more than me and be more intelligent, frightened me. Nevertheless, that August morning I walked into Jowett Walk to be welcomed with open arms by an enthusiastic counsellor. I met many different people during my first two weeks in ORA, of different cultures and backgrounds. To this day, I still miss our late night discussions and talent shows.

Year after year the allure of ORA has pulled me back. Studying Creative Writing and Psychology to Law Preparation, the possibilities were endless. What attracted me was how each experience at ORA was completely different in a beautiful way. Every year I saw new faces and heard different perspectives, which expanded my knowledge of what was and is really going on in the world. ORA allowed me to taste the ‘independent university life’, but with the comfort and guidance of organizers and counsellors. It helped me find my way and shape who I am and what I want to be.

There are many experiences I have had with ORA that I cherish dearly. I can still remember every single talent show and all the wide range of talented people I have encountered. Moreover, it is the teachers, the counsellors and everyone, who sacrifices their summer to come and educate us, is truly what makes ORA such a unique and vital experience. All the teachers I have had during each course have been so supportive and passionate. I know that I can rely on them and their notes to help me in the future. The counsellors, the ones who are there for you ever second, are honestly amazing. One of the girls during my last time in ORA said “It’s like having a temporary big sister or brother, who’ll guide you and also be there for you”.

Also, it is the friends I have made during these two brief weeks that make the summer unforgettable. In 2013, my room during my stay with ORA was just across another girl’s room, Kaia. This summer, four years after we first met, Kaia and I returned to ORA together, but this time as roommates. ORA has helped me make life-long friends, who will always be there for me whenever I need them and I cannot be more grateful.

This year I decided to go to ORA in Cambridge, to be introduced to a different experience. Although, I did feel that I was betraying my devoted love for Oxford, I do not regret my decision. Both locations were absolutely amazing and being surrounded by beautiful buildings, where renowned scientist and philosophers uncovered the unimaginable, was not only an honor but also a gift. I came to see the distinct differences between the two irresistible areas, Cambridge being smaller in size but with more greenery than Oxford. The opportunity presented different adventures and a different perspective of life in university. It is no surprise that both celebrated institutions require hard work and commitment, but I comprehended that it is this devotion the students have in themselves and their professors that make these Universities so phenomenal.

The question of whether or not I should end my ORA experience this year or continue has been haunting me for the last few months. It seems impossible to let go of such a wonderful part of my life that has provided me with glorious memories, powerful friendships and a remarkable education. However, as most of my peers, I must now tackle the work of the International Baccalaureate, school and UCAS so that hopefully, one day, I might return to Oxford or Cambridge not as a visitor but as a student. It is hard for me to fully grasp the idea that I am no longer a thirteen years-old girl, who is afraid to go to summer school and make friends, but now, thanks to ORA, I have learnt how to be confident, to take in different opinions and beliefs from different cultures and form my own independent thoughts. All these beneficial traits that I have acquired throughout my time with Oxford Royale Summer Schools have helped me become more secure of my future and find the path that is right for me, whether that be in school or with university decisions.

Now, as I am writing this, my aim for my future is to work hard and hopefully study law in the United Kingdom, so I can achieve my dream of being an advocate for Human Rights in the United Nations. Having Iraqi heritage and seeing the Refugee crisis first hand in Greece, I know the importance that our young voices have in society. Growing up in Greece, I have received many opportunities that many children nowadays still do not have. My passion to provide access to education for girls all over the world is what attracted me towards Green Light for Girls, which I am a proud Ambassador of. This world has developed rapidly before our eyes with technological advancement and discoveries, but it is how we react to these tense political and social periods that will truly define our roles and our achievements in history. My goal isn’t to change the whole world, but to make a small difference to ensure that at least one other child has the same opportunities and the ability to dream and hope like me. Now, I want to be a lawyer, but maybe one day that will change and it is important to know that it is okay to change our minds. We are allowed to change our directions in life even though, I am not certain if I will. It is important that the paths we decide to take is what will makes us happy and that it doesn’t hurt the people around us.

It is no secret that we are living during hard times, when people see the colour of your skin and your religion before your heart and mind. However, during my time in ORA, I have seen such a beautiful blend of culture and traditions. I have seen people of uncommon backgrounds share different opinions and beliefs and discuss their interests with respect. In ORA, we have been able to do what so many of our current leaders can’t do and that is listen and share. The memories we have all made will stay with us forever and this is only the first chapter of what is to come.

It is to you, the students who spend two weeks of their summer holidays to be enlightened by new adventures and encounters, that I want to say thank you. Thank you for having passion and devotion towards international cooperation and education. Thank you for being open-minded and listening to those who might not exactly have the same point of view as you. Thank you for taking the time to read my words. No matter how frightening it might sound, we are the future of this world, and I do not know about you, but that gives me hope.

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