I’m a lawyer from India, and came to Oxford to read for the BCL immediately after finishing my undergraduate studies. I was awarded the Dr Mrs Ambriti Salve Scholarship at Exeter College, for which I remain extremely grateful. To say that receiving this scholarship enhanced my BCL experience would be an understatement, and it would be far more accurate to term it as an enabler, which left me free to focus on the actual Oxford experience, rather than the financial pressures of living in the UK.
Of course, Oxford’s academic commitments remained as challenging as ever. I pursued a mixture of commercial subjects and human rights laws, picking Commercial Remedies, International Commercial Arbitration, Comparative Human Rights and Principles of Civil Procedure as my modules. It was a challenging experience, one fraught with moments where I wondered why I’d taken this on in the first place, but one that I wouldn’t replace with anything else. The seminars and lectures, combined with tutorials and the challenge to unearth your own opinions forced me to go beyond the reading and develop original arguments on complex legal issues. It was also a heady feeling to be taught and have my work evaluated by some of the best legal minds in the world, and that right of audience, to simply be able to interact and debate with world-class lawyers and judges, cannot be matched by any academic experience back home.
Oxford is intellectually challenging yet supportive all at the same time, with endless resources placed at your disposal and infinitely brilliant students from a variety of fields all around you. It amused me that I could arrive for dinner and end up sitting with a professor of Ottoman History on one side and a DPhil student studying 18th century actresses on the other. Very few places can match the intellectual stimulation that Oxford provides, with the endless bookstores, beautiful libraries and people from all nationalities, always willing to engage in complex discussions, adding to the diverse mix of opinions. The Exeter community is no different, with an impeccable knack of making international students feel right at home. With social activities throughout the year, including punting and other sports, formal dinners and extensive interactions with other colleges, there was never a dull moment for someone who had just arrived in a town thousands of miles away from home.
While it’s too early for me to definitively know the precise contours of my career path, dispute resolution, particularly in the commercial domain, are an area of keen interest for me. At the same time, pursuing human rights at Oxford inspired me to not only take up pro bono work for various litigations taking place for civil liberties across the world, but also study certain areas of law in detail. Consequently, I applied for – and got accepted into – an MPhil (Law) at Oxford, which will enable me to focus on privacy laws vis-à-vis national biometric databases in various countries, with an emphasis on India’s Aadhar scheme, which is impacting millions of Indians and is a topic close to my heart.
Finally, for making the dream even remotely plausible, I’d like to reiterate my thanks to Mr Harish Salve for his generosity and support, and Exeter College for facilitating the same. For enabling this experience and letting me study in the best law school in the world, I remain indebted.