Student Stories

Below are some passages from previous students who have commented on their time at the International Study Centre.

Carolina – Oxford Gap Year (Medicine)

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My experience with Oxford Royale Academy went far beyond what I expected when I applied: I had finished the IB and had received 4 rejections from my first application to medical school. My plan was to study Medical Science and reapply as a graduate, but I was not very happy about this because I was sure that medicine was something I wanted to do. I found the ORA gap year course online, saved the link as ‘life saving course’, and after speaking with ORA staff through skype, I had the confidence to follow my wishes and took a gap year instead.

I guess what made this course so great is that it fulfilled all the criteria that I wanted to achieve in a gap year, except maybe that it ended too soon. What I needed the most was help with my UCAS application, but I also wanted to challenge myself intellectually and learn new things. That’s what the first phase was about: learning new concepts and deepening familiar ones. ORA’s teaching style is very individual as classes are small, so lessons were more interactive than what I had experienced in school. This part was very important as it kept me motivated and confirmed my interest in health sciences, as well as improving my knowledge and critical skills. The second phase of the course, the thesis, was a real challenge but also a real pleasure. This is the moment where you not only have to take in new information, but also turn it into your own work, with your own ideas and words. Mostly, you will learn to organise and plan a large-scale project on your own but with enough support. It was very special to be given the opportunity to work on a project such as this so young, and it will fill you with pride when you finish, because you can see and hold all you effort in your hands.

Aside from academic work, there were many other goals I achieved with ORA. I was set on learning to be independent because I have always been a little pampered! At ORA there is a smooth transition between the comfort of being at home and living independently. Although you do have to use your own initiative to find lectures to attend and people to talk to for your thesis, you know you always have someone at the close by to help. This experience gave me the confidence to lead my own life without it seeming like such a drastic change.

Don’t you worry, however, ORA is not all about work and responsibilities! We became a little family and enjoyed our many trips around Oxford and England as well as our movie nights, fancy dinners, and meeting the new students who came in almost every week. It was a chance to build close relationships, and keep in contact with the people I met during this time. This was possibly the most important aspect, because it turned the Manor into a home.

After I returned home from ORA, I was called for interviews for all my four medical school choices and continued to get support from ORA tutors through Skype for practice. Learning to be independent came in handy when I visited England for my interview, and the academic help I received was invaluable! In comparison to my experience the previous year, I was prepared, confident, professional and successful. With good advice and practice, I was accepted into all of my universities and got to choose my first choice: the University of Manchester.

Although I went to ORA with the goal of being independent, I know it is thanks to every single person there, most of all the academic and social coordinators, that I was able to get as far as I did. I will be forever thankful and proud to have been part of the ORA family.


Fizza – Oxford Gap Year (Business and Enterprise)

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It has truly been a wonderful beginning to 2016! I came here in January and time has flown by so quickly that we are already in the last week. The reason that I came here was that I had had such a good experience with the Oxford Royale Academy Summer School programme that I decided that if I ever receive another opportunity to come here again, I am definitely going to avail that. And here, ORA have given me the opportunity again to spend my gap year in an incredible way. I had very high expectations before coming here but after spending 12 weeks at Yarnton Manor, believe me: all of my expectations have been surpassed.

The academic programme has helped me immensely and has affected me profoundly because I have had the opportunity to polish many of my skills like time management, planning, teamwork and leadership. Thank you so much ORA for making this possible.


Kendra – Bespoke (Academic Writing and English)

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This is what my stay has been like in the first week. This first week at ORA has been absolutely great. I am not regretting the decision I made to come here one bit. The people who work here and the other students whom I’ve met have welcomed me with open arms. This first week has been a very good experience for me and has given me a small taste of how university might be. The English and Academic Writing lessons have been very helpful and interesting for me. We have been able to talk about many topics and discussing them has not only helped me improve my language thanks to writing, speaking, reading and doing grammar, but it has also made me learn more about everything.

I also really enjoyed the newspaper class because we talked about things that are currently happening and I enjoyed listening to the other students’ point of view. Last night’s supper club was genuinely interesting for me, too, because Susan Graham has given me lots of advice that is not only helpful for entrepreneurship but also helpful for anything else. I am very thankful to have the opportunity to be here at ORA and that I get to explore more of the area. We also have loads of fun, and we spend a lot quality time such as playing board games. I am looking forward for tonight’s visit to Oxford and can’t wait to create more memories.


Angela – Oxford Gap Year (Medicine)

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Outstanding, Rewarding, Amazing. Oxford Royale Academy.

Who would have thought six months ago that I would be here today graduating from one of the greatest experiences I have had so far? I cannot believe it is already December and the year is about to finish. Before I discovered ORA, the idea of being able to spend three months in this charming place with wonderful people like you never crossed my mind. It was one of my deepest dreams and I thank you for making it true. I honestly cannot imagine a better closure to this year 2015.

Three months ago I landed in Bristol full of enthusiasm to be back after my superb summer experience with ORA. A really tall person was at Yarnton Manor to welcome me. I remember that Kiran’s lovely smile, together with his personality, made me feel at home. Dinner together, for example, meant laugh, laugh, chew, and laugh, laugh… “Oh, I can’t laugh anymore”.

Thank you to all the staff. I cannot find enough words to thank you for everything you have done for me since the minute I phoned for the first time. You have been my mentors, tutors, teachers, leaders, friends, critics, feedback givers, excellent people, extremely good advisors, powerful and competent examiners and –overall– my close family during three unbelievably amazing and incredibly rewarding months. I find hard to summarise with words what I have lived in what has been, without any doubt, one of the greatest experiences of my 18 years.

For me, leaving Spain meant saying no to exams that I was due to take during November; leaving my family for 90 days. But ORA: it has been an honour to have you by my side and I thank you very much for being kind, welcoming, warming, cheering and always, always so great to be with.