Thames' Flowing Tapestry: Reflections of my Oxford Experience

Emmanuel Uzim is a Standard Bank Africa Chairman scholar from Nigeria studying the MSc in Energy Systems at the University of Oxford. In this blog, he reflects on his Oxford experience.


Studying abroad can be an incredible opportunity to explore new cultures, make lifelong friendships, and gain invaluable academic experiences. As an international student from Africa, my experience at Oxford University has been exciting, transformative, and enlightening. Since arriving in this historic city, I have been immersed in a dynamic and diverse community of scholars, each with unique perspectives and backgrounds.

One of the things that immediately struck me about Oxford is its rich cultural heritage. The city is steeped in history and tradition, from the stunning architecture of its colleges and libraries to the cobblestone streets that wind through its charming neighborhoods. It's a place where the old and the new blend seamlessly, where ancient traditions are upheld alongside cutting-edge research and innovation. These attributes are ideally captured in my college - Wadham College - with a rich history that dates to 1610 A.D. and prides itself as one of the most liberal colleges in the university.

As an international student, I have had the chance to explore Oxford's many cultural treasures, from the world-renowned museums and galleries to the vibrant music and theatre scene. Cycling on my foldable Phillips Discovery bike beside the River Thames at Osney has become a daily ritual that I eagerly look forward to. There's something about the rush of wind in my face and the sound of the water rushing by that invigorates me, setting the tone for a day filled with learning and adventure. Its tranquil waters and lush green banks never fails to fill me with a sense of wonder and excitement, reminding me of the incredible journey I've taken to get to this point.

But what has made my time at Oxford truly special is the opportunity to learn alongside students from all over the world. The university attracts scholars and researchers from every corner of the globe, each with unique perspectives and experiences. In my classes, I have had the chance to engage with students from Europe, Asia, South America, and beyond, each bringing unique insights. Owing to my quest to proffer equitable energy transition in Africa, I am marvelled by the depth of shared knowledge I have garnered while developing NetZero strategies and recommendations around future energy markets. It's been fascinating to see how different cultures approach learning, problem-solving, and critical thinking, and I have learned so much from my fellow students.

Of course, the academic opportunities at Oxford are second to none. The university is known for its rigorous academic standards and world-class faculty, and I have been challenged and inspired by my coursework here. The libraries and research facilities are top-notch, enabling me to pursue my academic interests in depth. My favourite would be the Taylorian Institute library beside the Ashmolean Museum. It has this thrilling atmosphere accompanied by a window-scenery view of the regal city centre. Outside the lecture halls, I have also had the chance to participate in extracurricular activities, including student-led business research projects in the Oxford SDG Impact Lab fellowship.

Most importantly, what has made my time at Oxford truly unforgettable is the sense of belonging I have enjoyed in the Africa Oxford Initiative (AfOx) community. The AfOx-Standard Bank fellowship has been a life-changing opportunity for me as an African student. The fellowship has allowed me to build lasting relationships with other scholars, sharing experiences and creating lifelong memories. Through the leadership seminars, I have been able to develop valuable leadership qualities that have been essential to my academic and personal growth. The specially curated AfOx Insaka events have also allowed me to listen to inspiring stories of African achievements and connect with impact-driven individuals making a difference in their respective fields. The social activities with my colleagues have been endearing, as we have formed close bonds and shared laughter. AfOx has empowered me to pursue my academic goals while building lasting relationships with like-minded friends.

Overall, my experience as an international student at Oxford has been one of the most exciting and enriching periods of my life. I have been challenged academically, exposed to new cultures, and made lifelong friendships. Oxford is truly a unique and special place, and I feel grateful to have had the chance to study here. I am confident that the experiences and knowledge I have gained here will serve me well in my future endeavours, and I look forward to seeing where this journey takes me.