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Indelible Oxford

2 Feb 2024
Old Boy News
Old Boy John de Bhal (2012) reflects on his experience of attending the University of Oxford.
Old Boy John de Bhal (2012) reflects on his experience of attending the University of Oxford.


Class of 2012

Old Boy John de Bhal (2012), pictured, is a 2020 recipient of an Overseas Study Scholarship for Old Boys. He recently attended the University of Oxford and has penned the following recollections of his experience.

Studying for 5 years at the University of Oxford was the experience of a lifetime. Here I am now, back home in Brisbane, trying to find the words to simply convey what an amazing journey I had, while also communicating the immense sadness I feel now that it’s all over.

I began my time in the UK as an overly enthusiastic M.Phil in International Relations student at Balliol College. It’s cliched but the most memorable part of Balliol was the people I met and the friends I made there. The social life resembled depictions of Oxbridge in movies – a mix of long summer evenings, often featuring a suit and a tie, and heated conversations about the state of the modern world. At Balliol, I also rediscovered my love for playing cricket and played at every possible opportunity.

I entered the D.Phil (Oxford’s name for a doctorate or a PhD) program slightly more jaded than when I began the M.Phil two years prior, the sole reason being the COVID-19 pandemic. To be perfectly honest, the first year of the D.Phil was a complete write-off academically; access to libraries and data was made impossible by the virus. However, despite the intellectual difficulties of my first year of the D.Phil, I managed to get a ‘Blue’ for cricket, playing in the Varsity match against Cambridge. Cricket truly was a highlight of my time in the UK and I even managed to make it to Birmingham to watch the first day of the Ashes in 2023. I will never forget the eruption of noise after Zak Crawley hit the first ball of the match to the boundary.

The last two years of my Oxford experience were effectively normal, and I managed to complete my doctorate (somehow!). There’s no doubt that the extremely generous financial assistance given to me by the Churchie Foundation went a long way to me completing my D.Phil, and I will be eternally grateful for this support.

This year Churchie Foundation is again awarding the Overseas Study Scholarships for Old Boys. Applications are now invited from Old Boys and current Year 12 students wishing to attend colleges or universities in the UK or USA. The application process will close on Friday 31 May. To find out more information and/or apply for a scholarship, please click here.

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