OA 2024 Issue 05


TRAVIS YIP (15-19) After four years of studying back home in Hong Kong, I finally completed my Bachelor’s degree. I was fortunate to have the liberty of tailoring my programme to explore other disciplines, and I now have a better idea of where my passion lies than I did a few years back. After a short summer break from study, I’m now back in London pursuing a Master’s degree in Geographic Data Science, which I’m leveraging as a stepping stone towards a data science job here. The first half of the Master’s programme flew by like a quiet storm. At the start of the semester, everything was manageable, but a few weeks in, the materials got challenging. Having forgotten most of A-level Further Maths, I spent quite a bit of time reviewing matrices operations. Nonetheless, I’m happy that the semester is now over and I get some time to go back and review the materials before the second half commences. On a more casual note, I was thrilled to be back here again after all this time. Over the last few months, I’ve been catching up with a lot of my mates from the school that I haven’t seen for so long. It’s amazing to see all these familiar faces again, and they have made my transition back to this home away from home easy. I also made it to my first OA Badminton event. The turnout was surprisingly good and I was glad to have this space to engage with the OA community. From the playoffs, I also saw how much the team has matured over the last four years. Having picked up my rackets after abandoning them for two years, I undoubtedly found the games tough, but I am looking forward to the event next year and seeing how the team continues to grow. OLLIE FOSTER (08-19) In 2023, I decided, instead of entering the ‘real world’, to apply for a place abroad at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) to study law. Fortunately, my application was successful. In the first semester, I lived with a fellow exchange student in a quaint two-bedroom flat in the centre of the wet market of Wan Chai. It is safe to say it served us well, being in the perfect location for after-study drinks and with easy access to the beach on the southern side of Hong Kong Island. In the second semester, I was fortunate enough to gain a place in HKU college accommodation where I was able to integrate with local students, gaining an insight into the interesting culture of a foreign university. Hong Kong is a great place for a year abroad, especially in summer, thanks to the variety of activities available. I was able to go wakeboarding for the first time, camp on a beach and, of course, the range of food and drink locations was nothing to complain about! Also, due to its centrality in Asia, flights to neighbouring countries were quick and importantly cheap. I was able to travel solo to Japan during one of my reading weeks and also travelled to Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam twice. Every year I am impressed by the network of OAs whose willingness to assist their younger alumni truly shows the cohesiveness of the College. This comes after getting into contact with OAs in Hong Kong and now in the UK. I am now looking forward to completing my final year at Durham before hoping to begin law school in 2024.

By Rachel Collier COLLIER 2

broadcast between October 2022 and April 2023. I found the whole experience extremely nerve-wracking but the stress was more than offset by the pleasure of spending lots of time with Louis, who flew the family nest three years ago. Each episode took over an hour to record, and in all our matches we had long pauses while issues were resolved – typically disputes in the production room about whether an answer should or shouldn’t have been accepted, but also corrections of the score (visible on players’ screens). Louis noticed that one set of questions we answered ended up on the cutting room floor. At the end of each match they did ‘pick-ups’, re-filming botched questions. Our first-round match, against Sheffield, went to a (rare) tie-break and our second-round match, against Newcastle, was won in the dying seconds, with a question about Olympic diving. As an all-graduate team with an average age of 41, we provoked some mutters on Twitter, but others seemed delighted to witness the first ever parent-child duo appearing together, even if our inverted positions on the screen (R Collier on the left and L Collier on the right) put viewers in a tizzy. And although the memory of our exit from the competition – a closely fought quarter-final match against Durham – still stings, we disgraced neither UCL nor the Collier name in reaching the final six of the 120 university teams that applied for the show.

In 2021, 30 years after completing my undergraduate degree, I enrolled as a part-time postgraduate student at UCL, where I’m working towards a PhD in Greek historical linguistics. By coincidence, my son Louis (03- 14) overlapped with me for a year at UCL, where he was training as a teacher of Physics and Maths. Keen family quizzers, we both applied for UCL’s University Challenge team, hoping to have some fun but fully expecting to fall at the first hurdle of the three-stage selection process. The filial connection came to light only when we were both picked for the team and hugged each other in delight. There began an intensive period of weekly training, first for our audition in Oxford, and then for the televised stages of the competition. ‘Training’ involved playing previously broadcast matches together against the television, armed with buzzers and fuelled by baked goods. We also used a huge spreadsheet of subject areas, weighted according to the perceived preferences of the question-setters, so that we could target our revision strategically. We knew, for example, that planetary science is a favourite topic (fortunately our captain’s specialism), while our acknowledged weak areas (pre-1600s art, early modern poetry and UK television) were unlikely to prove too damaging. We appeared in five episodes in total, which were filmed between February and April 2022 in Salford and

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