Ellie left us last year with A Levels in Biology, English Literature and Music and an offer from Oxford University.

We caught up with her to hear all about her first year of Life After The Grove…

WGS Day 225733

What are you studying and where?

I’m studying Music at Magdalen College, Oxford.

Are you in halls?

I live in a house owned by the college just off the High Street with 11 other students.

What is your favourite thing about being at  University?

My favourite thing about studying at Oxford in particular, asides from being surrounded by friends every hour of the day, has to be the seemingly infinite number of weird and wacky traditions that seem to crop up out of nowhere from time to time. The most memorable of these so far is probably May Morning, where students across the University stay up all night to gather under Magdalen Tower, alongside members of the public and tourists, to hear the College Choir perform the Hymnus Eucharisticus and a selection of madrigals at six in the morning. It was amazing for us to experience this from inside the College walls and stand where thousands of students had stood before us since the tradition started in the 17th Century.

And your least favourite thing?

My least favourite thing about being at University is, unsurprisingly, the workload. On a typical week, Music students at Magdalen have to do three near 2000-word essays – the equivalent of writing A level coursework every 2 days – on top of work for other areas of the course, although at times it has been as many as four or five essays a week for a few weeks in a row. What’s worse, then, is the response we get from other Humanities students when they find out about our heavy workload: “Oh, you do essays? I thought you all just played instruments!”

How is independent living? What has surprised you most about having to fend for yourself?

Living independently has been easier than I expected, although that’s probably because the College employs cleaners and cooks us three meals a day. For me, doing my own laundry is just about as stressful as writing essays, to such an extent that at the beginning of this term, I resorted to buying enough pairs of socks from Primark to last me until the end of the year.

Has it been easier or harder than you expected to get involved and make friends?

It is almost impossible not to make friends at Oxford, probably because no matter how different or intimidatingly cool someone looks from the outside, everybody knows that they’re a nerd on the inside. It’s a similar case in every University – you’re surrounded by such a diverse range of personalities that you’re bound to find a crowd you fit into.

Are you taking part in any extra curricular activities?

Anyone who knows me from school will be shocked to find out that I haven’t engaged in any physical activity this year, and have instead directed my extra-curricular interest toward music – namely, the student-led Oxford University Philharmonia (or OUPhil), where I’ve been playing the piccolo for three terms.

Any funny / unusual incidents since you have been away ?

The weirdest moment I can remember was the party following a college subject formal dinner at the end of last term, where I beat my Techniques tutor in the After-Eight game (participants place an After-Eight on their foreheads, and the first one to eat it, without using their hands, wins). It was a strange evening.

What would you advise current Y12 and Y13 pupils at The Grove?

I would advise anyone applying to University to ensure that they pick the right subject. In most cases, this should be your favourite subject – or at least something linked to that subject – that you’ve studied at school. Also, eat as much school dinner as you possibly can; no college I’ve visited does food quite like it.

Ellie - dinner