AfOx Essay Writing Workshop Experience
Naima Nasir graduated from the MSc International Health and Tropical Medicine in 2019. In this blog, Naima shares her experience of adjusting to Oxford’s academic style of writing.
It was only about a week after settling into my MSc course at Oxford, that I started to hear whispers about ‘the Oxford style’ academic essay. I waved it off as one of the many things in Oxford that initially seem steeped in mystery and grandeur. As the days rolled by and the task of writing an essay for my course drew nearer, I started to pay attention to what was been said about it.
I heard words like ‘challenging’, ‘difficult’, ‘cerebral’, ‘critical’ that left me wondering if I knew how to write any kind of essay at all. After talking with other graduate students and watching many YouTube videos, I still was not clear on what (if anything) made essay writing at Oxford different.
In my quest to find out more about the Oxford essay writing style, I came across the AfOx essay-writing workshop. The 2-hour workshop cleared the fog and provided the guidance I needed. African graduate alumni and faculty members led the workshop in an informal yet engaging manner. Think lots of snacks, great conversations, and much laughter. We discussed how to structure an essay, sharing rich examples from various disciplines, and practised constructing paragraphs. I left the workshop with great tips, which I applied to my essays throughout my course. It was also an opportunity to meet other African graduates from different courses, exchange notes and encourage each other.
The following year, I got the opportunity to share these tips and experiences as one of the facilitators of the workshop. It felt fulfilling to help other students address questions like the ones I had, providing a safe space for students to ask the questions and get the guidance they need.
Studying at Oxford can seem quite daunting for many new students and having a platform to share tips and gain the skills needed to excel is important. Strengthening our writing skills will help amplify our messages and ultimately our influence. It is my hope that AfOx will continue to expand the essay writing workshops to reach many more students across Oxford and beyond.