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Student at ORA's Oxford Summer School, 2019

  • Course type

    Course: Broadening Horizons

  • Location

    From: Cuba

  • Age

    Age: 17 years old

Highlights from Sofia’s experience

  • Embraced new cultures and made friends from all over the world
  • Most valued and enjoyed her public speaking and debating workshops
  • Had inspiring and dedicated teachers


“ORA summer school was about learning and working hard, but it meant so much more. The people you knew there were special; the friends we made were special.”

I took the Broadening Horizons course in Queen’s College, Oxford with ORA. You had to choose two subjects and one afternoon class from a variety of options, mine were: Creative Writing, Journalism and Public Speaking and Debate, all three were amazing and highly recommended.

In Creative Writing somebody would always read a text from their choosing before the class started, this was interesting because they were all very different and representative of our cultures and own personalities. Then we would do a simple writing exercise. This one time it was ‘what would it be like to be a dove’, and the outcomes were funny and amusing. We also discussed dialogues, characters, plot and other narratives techniques. I really enjoyed hearing my classmate’s texts, which were inspiring and entertaining.

Journalism was quite different and much more serious. We learned about ethics and laws and how to write a good journalistic piece. Also, how to detect fake news and make sure we avoided it in our own works, as well as plagiarism. We got to make our own journalistic report with filming and editing, the whole thing, this was really fun and a good chance to have a laugh or two with the other students. My favorite part of this course was the discussion on the Edward Snowden case, which never ceases to bring new arguments and perspectives onto the table.

In the afternoon I had Public Speaking and Debate on altering days. This is the course I feel taught me the most. On the first week we learned how speeches worked and saw some of the most famous ones. We also gave our own speeches in front of the whole classroom. The second week was all about debating, we knew of the way the British parliament did it, how to confront an issue in a polite manner and to address our body language properly. What was so good about this course was that in the end it made you more confident in your speaking and provided tools to avoid awkwardness or nervousness when delivering our ideas.

On the first day we did icebreakers that where simple, but useful in learning some names and releasing stress. We also received a very inspiring introduction talk and our first meal. The staff were great and very caring, especially the counsellors who were always lending you a helping hand in the activities or anything you required. They were mostly university students and were fun while reliable.

The teachers were also good, hardworking and always aiming to guide you and reach your full potential.

The activities went from sports at the park to punting, and were fun and perfect for socialising. We had karaoke night and it was amazing. Everybody was really chilled and nice. It was all about the fun, not actually showing our voices off, although some were really good. We sang international pop songs, but there were also Chinese, French, Arabic and Spanish songs. The counsellors also sang a song or two and seemed to be enjoying themselves.

We also had a talent show with magic, singing and dancing. On another day, we went ice skating, which I had never done before. But the cherry on top of the cake was definitely the trip to see Mamma Mia in London. We got four free hours before the musical and they were the best. I got to explore this wonderful city with my friend. We went to the shops, saw Big Ben, the London Eye and ate burritos by the Thames – it was a lovely day. The musical was something else, I have always loved the movie and the musical met all my highest expectations. We were tired on the bus ride home, but it was worth it.
The graduation ceremony was nice, with us all smiling in our neat tuxedos and dresses. The graduation party was so much fun, the music was great, my friends and I could not stop dancing and laughing at one another. It was the best way to finish these two weeks.

On the morning of the next day we had to leave, it was the saddest thing. Everybody was hugging and tearing up while saying goodbye and making promises to not lose contact. ORA summer school was about learning and working hard, but it meant so much more. The people you knew there were special, the friends we made were special. We came from all over the world and yet we were all so similar: just teenager eager to learn more, to embrace different cultures and call complete strangers their friends. For me that was Oxford, hugging someone I did not know two weeks ago, but with whom I had talked and discussed and laughed so much, that I did not want to let them go.

Oxford Royale Academy was a fantastic experience, I would not have rather been anywhere else.

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