My Oxford Interview Experience (Biological Science)

Now, THAT is a title I would never have imagined myself to write in a million years.

As this is supposed to be (and hopefully will) be an informative post for future Oxford University or Biological Sciences applicant, I will try to keep this as formal as possible (meaning, I’ll save all the emotional and sentimental notes for another post!)

For anyone that came across this post, a little intro perhaps hehe. Hello! My name is Maryam Jamilah, it is currently 2017, and I am studying CIE A-Levels at Kolej Yayasan UEM, Malaysia.

I applied to study Biological Sciences at Brasenose College, Oxford University for the October 2018 entry.

When I received the e-mail from Brasenose College informing me that I was shortlisted for the interview, I was given two choices since I am an international applicant; to do the interview by Skype or to fly over to UK and attend the interview in Oxford University ( in which they explicitly implied that neither will have direct impacts on the weight of your application). I chose to participate in the interview in person (I might discuss the reasons behind this in my later posts), and so my dad booked a flight ticket for me for 3 December which is 3 days earlier than the interview date.

Basically, I had 2 days free before I started my interviews in which I spent sight-seeing, doing some last minute prep and hanging around in the JCR. JCR stands for Junior Common Room where there are student helpers that help guide the interviewees about and where there are notice boards on which information on our interview time and place are put up. It’s also a place where people socialise and play games (but I’ll elaborate further on that later).

I will divide this post into several parts;

  1. The Interview (content and reflection)
  2. Accommodation and food
  3. Others (JCR, environment) 

Alright let’s jump right into it, shall we?

1. The Interview ™
Continue reading “My Oxford Interview Experience (Biological Science)”



I never really have been the type to feel. I perceive myself as an emotionally-detached person. I think, I rationalize, I connect things with my logic, but I very very rarely listen to my heart. I stopped doing so years ago.

As we approach the end of this year, I find myself feeling very deeply about everything around me. Family, friends, nature, everything. I can sense myself changing, maturing, physically, mentally and emotionally.

Since primary school, I was a very shy child. I only had one or two close friends, and I get really, really attached to them. Things change though- friends move schools, they make new friends, get involved in bigger groups of friends. I never fought back. I let go of them very easily. I did not contact them, I became awkward with them, I called them ex-friends or “old friends”.

Secondary school is a whole new story. I made a new best friend almost every year. I lose them almost every year. It is sad. I became friends with them, pour my heart out to them, cry, laugh, do everything with them for a whole year- and just, stopped. I was devastated, but they seemed fine. They had new friends, better friends, more popular, more fun groups. It made me think, was I not good enough of a friend? Was I too boring? Too plain? After all I shared with them how could they leave me just like that? They never came back. We talked, we apologized, we hugged it out but it was never the same again. They became strangers. The worst thing was, I never fought with any of them. They all just, drifted away as if I am phase in their lives that was not important enough for them to carry along. They dropped me and there I was, struggling alone in the open sea.

When I was 16 I swore to myself I will never, ever get attached to anyone again. Nobody is my best friend, no guy I like will be my boyfriend, no teacher will be my favourite-nothing. And for a while I thought I was happy living like that. I could have many friends that I can talk to with perfect knowledge that they will all leave one day and I was ready to let them go. Looking back, I probably pushed people away a bit too much. I didn’t like it when one friend was around me all the time and I told her to sit somewhere else, do something else, stop following me around. I ended up hurting myself and the people that I loved. No one trusted me, people misunderstood me and that is all because of this high wall I built around my heart that no one could break into.

And I questioned myself again and again, why is it that everyone is only around when I’m happy? When I was sad or had problems I was all alone?

2015 just nailed it all on the heart. For the whole second half of the year I was shattered, the two people I trusted most, the close friends I was just beginning to cherish, all of them slipped one by one from the tips of my fingers.

Enough with the sob stories. It’s all water under the bridge now. All I want to say is, I’m glad to have been able to develop stable and strong relationships now, and there’s nothing more I hope than to be able to keep all these important people by my side for as long as I can. Even if I have to let go, I will let them go with peace and not leave matters unattended and avoided anymore. The emotional aspects of myself are still growing and I’m only starting to understand the value of constantly appreciating the things around me; environments, nature, sceneries that might not be there and available for long, thus I shall cherish them wholly.

Ps// I miss writing. I miss it so so badly.


Olympic Sportsmen Vs Me

I have never been the type to watch sports. But when Dato’ Lee Chong Wei the national badminton hero qualified to the final after defeating long-time rival Lin Dan I knew I had to witness the possibility of history being made: The possibility for Malaysia to get her first Gold Medal in the Olympics.

Alas, we have to be a little more patient and wait a little longer to achieve that when LCW ‘only’ managed to get a silver medal; his third consecutive one in the Olympics.

I put the (”) in only because I do not think that the word only  should be put there. I still have a dull ache in my heart thinking about last night, to see the disappointment so apparent in our hero’s eyes. More than anything, he feels sorry to disappoint us, the people of Malaysia while we are overflowing with love and compassion for him. He, who trained relentlessly for 3 consecutive Olympics, faced various obstacles, powered through numerous injuries and scandals to make us proud, to place Malaysia- our humble country – on the world map in the sports field. Basically we all just want to give him a big hug for everything he suffered through.

We are so proud of him. Gold or silver, his name is engraved in our hearts as our hero, our badminton legend.

I do not intend to write a full post of Dato’ Lee Chong Wei as my limited knowledge on his autobiography and my average writing skills are too limited to describe his glorious achievements in life. I am here to reflect.

Continue reading “Olympic Sportsmen Vs Me”

Something to think about

People are complicated.

The mistake is that they are often categorized. Someone can be known as brave, another as less so. Someone can be known as smart, another as a little dimwitted.

The truth is, we have so many more layers to ourselves.

As humans, we are horribly inconsistent. We are brave, then fearful. Intelligent, then dimwitted, and many more defining traits, all at different times, and that’s what makes us more human. We cannot be categorized, because we would likely be placed into every category at some point. One cannot be defined as solely brave, because there are times when they will feel fear. One cannot be defines as only intelligent, because there are times they’ll know nothing about a particular subject. Human beings are tricky things; complex and layered into these unpredictable personas.

I often think that as humans, nothing is ever definite. We just often think that way because when we watch movies, read books, each character has a distinct and pre-determined personality. They are called fiction for a reason. Obviously, it would be impossible to incorporate the entirety of their lives and traits to make them realistic as it would deter the readers, the viewers from the intended plotline.

That’s what differentiates us. We don’t have plotlines. Life is so fluid, that each micro decision you make will contribute to the shape it will take in the future. Simple, harmless choices like “where should I eat tonight?” “should I go jogging this morning?” have impacts in our very own messy little stories.

Do you know that we are entirely made up of atoms? We exchange atoms with the surrounding with every inhale and exhale of our breaths. Think about it. We leave trails of atoms behind us wherever we go. There are pieces of us in everything. There are pieces of us in nature. There are pieces of us in life.

Inversely, we are made up of everything around us as well. We take a piece everywhere we go. We interchange atoms, with every human we cross paths with. We store what is around us, and leave it somewhere else. There are pieces of us in nature. There are pieces of us in our friends. There are pieces of us in our families.

If our atoms have different colours, maybe we can see how the world is one big, messy rainbow. Maybe we can see how everything latches on to each other to keep each other alive. Maybe then, discrimination will stop, because then we can see each other for what we truly are- a part of each other’s lives.


disclaimer: some parts of this post is not from my own words, but I took several excerpts to give my own comprehension to them 🙂

A reflection on time

There was a time when the world was seen through God given eyes, not man-made lenses attached to a small hand held device.

There was a time when people would smile freely, smiles that reached their eyes, now they worry too much about getting the right angles and lighting, they forget the purpose behind their fake, close lipped, beauty concious smiles.

There was a time when we could enjoy company thoroughly but nowadays all we get are hunched soldiers and eyes trailed down, lightened not by the happiness of being with friends but of artificial lighting emitting from the screens of the latest gadget trends.

There was a time when only one photo needed to be taken regardless of the outcome, now we snap hundreds of shots, only to discover we are satisfied with none.

There was a time when imperfections were normal, nobody gave a damn but now oh look, ten seconds in and the negative comments have already started pouring out like water gushing out of a dam.

There was a time when your own life is worth living but now it seems that people care more about other people’s lives, other people’s friends, other people’s families and they fail to see that what’s right in front of their very eyes are more worth appreciating.

There was a time when people cracked jokes about the weather, the nature, the funny situations in the office, not jokes tailored for the satisfaction of followers resulting to public humiliation of unsuspecting individuals and clenched fists.

I hate how people choose to invest money and energy on what has already passed, I hate how people snap their food before they eat instead of reflecting on how lucky they are to even have food lined on their plates, I hate how people won’t spend time off their phones to even look at the direction they are walking, I hate how people feel they have the right to tell other people how to live their lives, I hate how people lose their personalities and become the same, typical people littered across social sites, I hate it. I hate it. I hate it.

Honestly, what have become of the world? Don’t people see that the present is the most important part of their lives?

A Little Something Called Fate?

With faith, I trust in fate.

[Sincerely hoping my parents will never read this post]

I still remember the night I wrote my previous post. After a long crying session in the shower, I poured my heart’s contents into my blog and proceeded to book bus tickets and hotel rooms to escape from reality, without waiting for my parents’ consent.

The day before, I received an offer to go to an interview at UTP, Perak (About 3-4 hours away from home). I was having mixed feelings about it, since I wanted to pursue a career in Science, but the only courses they offered were Arts. It was quite odd actually, as the program is only offered to 20 people from the top 100 students in Malaysia, yet they only offer Arts subjects. I actually decided not to go, and told my mum it would be a waste of time and energy as it was too far and had nothing to do with my ambition. A hasty decision and a mind clouded with emotions was all it took to change that.

In my previous post, I told everyone that I wanted to run, I needed to run. I actually did that. I don’t even know how, but I managed to convince my parents to let me travel there with my friends instead of them sending me with their car. I did not necessarily lie..but let’s just say I bent the truth a little bit. With my parents thinking I was going with 2 or 3 friends, I rode on the express bus… alone.

I do not know where I got the courage from. I was crying for the first few minutes, but when I looked out the window and realised that I am actually travelling alone for the first time in my 18 years of existence (even though it was just to another state) , I felt brave and independent. I felt like I could take on the world. Well… until I was stranded at a bus stop by the road for 20 minutes. Would you believe how hard it was to find an Uber driver in the middle of that small city in Perak? In the end I just called the hotel and they gave me a number for the taxi. After arriving and checking in safely in the hotel, I laid on the queen sized bed and smiled to myself. Travelling all the way here was not such a bad idea after all.

3 days and 2 nights all alone in Perak made me a changed person. I enjoyed the sceneries, the graffiti on the walls of old buildings. had meals on my own, discovered the small shopping complex about 10 minutes walk from the hotel and even watched a movie alone! I have to admit that I felt lonely at times, but in general, it felt great to just spend time with myself and not worry about how others think of me, not worry about things that were happening at home and just do the things I wanted to do without having to consider other people’s preferences or opinions. It was liberating, to say the least.

The next day, I went for the interview. Even though I was not that excited for the interview, I did felt some sort of drive to do my best as this was probably my last chance for a scholarship anyways, and it was not easy to get in the top 100 in the country. I did the cot until the last minutes, checked my answers twice and tried to show the best side of myself during the interview. I met some awesome people as well, who were also more interested to take up Science than Arts but came just for the sake of it.

Today, I do not know how to feel when I received this;


Felt bizarre to think that I almost decided not to even go to the interview, but because  of a small twist in fate, and the urge to run away from my problems, now I am among the 20 people in the whole Malaysia to receive this offer to study in any top universities in UK or US.

My parents are overjoyed, I was happy and grateful too but now when the feeling has sank in, all these questions arose. What if they won’t allow me to take veterinary medicine? Would I be forced to reject this offer? Would I be stupid if I did just to pursue the course I wanted?

Hmmm. Fate, do your job. I have utmost faith in you.