The decision to apply to Oxford was made in my third year of undergraduate study back in university in Beijing, and I was not expecting much from the application because, so far as I knew, the course I applied to (MPhil Economics) hadn’t admitted students who did their undergraduate studies in mainland China for many years. When I received the offer I was overwhelmed with excitement.
Coming to Oxford from China was the best decision in my life so far as it has taught me to focus on cultivating and improving my core competitiveness. I learnt most of my knowledge in economics during my MPhil years at Oxford as it is a highly-intense, theory-driven course. After my MPhil, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do a doctorate right away so I got a job at the Bank of England working as an economist. The University of Oxford was encouraging and my supervisor supported my decision. When I felt ready, I applied back to Oxford to read a DPhil (PhD) in Financial Economics at Exeter College. So far, it has been even more rewarding.
When deciding how to choose my course, I considered my past experience with my supervisor, Professor Dimitrios Tsomocos, and my research interests. I worked full-time at the British central bank before my DPhil so I got to observe central bank policy in practice and to appreciate what is missing from traditional textbooks and the gaps in research on money and banking. I was passionate about using maths and the economic modelling I had learnt so far, so I decided to apply with the full support of my supervisor. It has turned out another one of the greatest decisions of my life. I am now working on the state’s monetary hegemony and individual freedom, the sustainability of currency union, writing papers and books. I am very lucky to be in Exeter College as the College has awarded me the Peter-Thompson Scholarship in partnership with Oxford University’s Clarendon Scholarship. Without the support of Exeter College and Mr Peter Thompson, my academic pursuit would not have been so smooth.
In terms of extracurricular activities, I was the treasurer of the College MCR, and taking on these responsibilities made me feel more integrated with the wider Exeter community. I also did some rowing with the Exeter crew in my first year. The sportsmanship and bond turned out rewarding. I also frequently attend the Rector’s Seminars, where many academics and leading figures in politics and industry come and share their views on either historical or current hot issues. Through the Rector’s Seminars I was able to speak to literature professors who study the works of Qian Zhongshu and Yang Jiang, both of whom were leading literary figures in modern China. Qian studied literature at Exeter College in the early 20th century and his wife Yang gave up her place at Wellesley College, Massachusetts to come to Oxford to keep Qian company. Yang wrote a book with sections on their family life at Exeter College. I am very proud to be in a college where they used to live and study.
For postgraduate students, college is not necessarily a place to take lectures and tutorials, but it is a home base for us to relax and unwind after a day’s intense work and research. Apart from this, I also have a lectureship in Economics at Magdalen College, giving tutorials to PPE undergraduate students. My Exeter College advisor Professor Qian helped me tremendously and kindly wrote a reference for me.
My best memories of Oxford are: 1) giving a talk on my research at a subject family dinner at Exeter College and 2) finding a soulmate in Exeter College.