Honestly, my initial reason of wanting to study in the UK is entirely irrelevant to academics. When I was younger, I read a lot of fictional books and became a mad fan of Harry Potter (I still am).
However, as I progressed in my studies, I found that many of the leading researches and amazing discoveries were done by scholars and academics from Oxford and Cambridge. This became my inspiration and it then became my goal to study in Oxbridge. Aside from its academic excellence, I think UK also has wonderful cultures preserved from its many years of history which I’d love to discover more. On top of that, I just wanted to try something new and experience living independently.
Coming from a non-international school, I realized that it would be quite difficult for me to apply to Oxbridge without an A level or IB certification. A large proportion of Indonesian scholars go to Singapore or the US for further education, so there is very little guidance in terms of applying to the UK. I chose Concord College because aside from being one of the best sixth-form colleges in the UK terms of A Level results, also provide lots of guidance on the UCAS application process. Just this year, 27 of my seniors received offers from Oxbridge universities. Concord is also located in the countryside, so it has a perfect learning environment.
Being an international school, Concord students is a mix of various different nationalities and cultures – from Nigerians to Mexicans. I thought it would be quite interesting to get to know people from around the globe. A great thing about Concord is that there are so many talented people in the college – from the top 7 chemist in the country to national basketball players. My best friend, Claire, is a gold medallist in gymnastics. But I think the thing that makes Concord so amazing and distinguishable from other communities is that despite all the talents, no one looks down on one another. I guess the way to put it is that we don’t see each other as competition, but as alliances.
Here, you can often see students helping each other out in different areas of the subject. There are also subject tutors, seniors who are particularly good at certain subjects that are assigned to help younger students who struggle in their studies, but honestly, subject tutor or not, we can just approach any senior and they will always try their best to help us. I guess that’s another great thing about Concord, there isn’t really a seniority system and everyone can just be friends with everyone else.
I would like to work as a corporate scientist in the future and I think that getting an A level qualification will be my first step in reaching that dream as it will allow me to apply to UK universities more easily. I will be applying for a Natural Sciences/Biochemistry degree, and a degree from universities like Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial and UCL is internationally recognized by leading science corporations such as Genentech and CERN.
Putting aside the qualifications, I think what’s most important is the experience that I will gain from studying alongside leaders in the scientific fields as well as many talented scholars from all over the world. I believe I will become a better analyst, critical thinker and disciplined scientist from this learning experience, which I think is what companies are really looking for.
Academic wise, many of the teachers come from prestigious universities such as Oxford and Cambridge and they are all incredibly experienced in teaching the A level syllabus. Each class only consists of around 10 students, which enables the teachers to focus one each student individually to ensure every one of us reaches our maximum academic potential. We also have tutors who guide us through our UCAS application and help us with things like applying for summer internships. We have lots of discussion groups and often have external speakers to come for sharing/lectures, which I think is a great way to prepare for interviews. There are also many opportunities to join nationwide competitions including Olympiads and the MACE debate.
When we enter Concord, each of us is assigned to a house; Gandhi, Pankhurst, Mandela or Teresa. Throughout the year, we compete with other houses to gain house points in events such as the Road Race, House Arts, House Debate and Interhouse Sports. It gets really competitive and it is usually during these events that we get to bond really closely with our seniors and juniors. We can also get to know people from all sorts of sports clubs and societies like MUN, cookery club and choir.
Concord also has a lot of unique events. In the first term, we had an International Food Fayre, where different country societies would cook their traditional food and share it with everyone else. It was really interesting to taste cuisines from countries like Nigeria and Russia, which otherwise I would never have thought of trying. Indonesian food was very popular, the rendang and nasi liwet we cooked were gone in less than 15 minutes!
I think one of the most memorable events was the Assassins Game. It’s a game hosted by the prefects and involves everyone in the school killing assigned “targets” with a spoon. The game lasted for two weeks and it literally felt like the Hunger Games! Another event that we had after exams was the Standon Bowers camp. We went canoeing, scrambling, abseiling, caving and many other adventurous activities. We also have the Winter and Spring concerts where musicians can showcase their talents. The school also hosts lavish dinners during Christmas and Chinese New Year so we can all celebrate together in pretty dresses and fancy suits. This just shows that despite having academic excellence, we have tons of fun too!
Perhaps one of the questions you have is are the Indonesian students doing well in Concord? The answer is absolutely yes! This year, all our Indonesian seniors got into prestigious universities like Imperial, LSE and UCL. I was very fortunate to be made Head Girl this year, and two out of three of the Head Girl candidates were actually Indonesian! Another Indonesian was also made president of the Outreach Society, the most popular society which involves doing charity work. I think this really shows how competent Indonesian scholars are even in the international field.