My name is Amy Lovat and I am a returned student from the Oxford Creative Writing Summer School in 2010. I graduated with the Bachelor of Arts combined with Law and I am currently entering my second year as a full-time PhD student, studying English (Creative Writing) at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales

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The highlight of my summer school experience in Oxford was getting to spend three weeks working alongside like-minded, creative individuals with similar interests to me. Being surrounded by other writers from 20 different countries, of varying ages and stages of life, was such an invaluable and inspiring opportunity. It was also a fun experience living on campus in one of Oxford University’s oldest colleges, with three meals a day served in a Great Hall akin to the meal scenes in Harry Potter. There were also planned activities each night, such as Scottish Dancing and open mic nights, as well as day trips to Warwick Castle and Bath.

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My confidence as a writer and as a person grew every day while I was overseas. Being the first time I had travelled overseas alone, it was an amazing opportunity and increased my confidence and independence tenfold. Listening to daily lectures from experts in the field, as well as working closely in seminars with some of England’s most talented writers, served to inspire me daily, and I certainly carried on that creative inspiration when I returned home, and to this day. The year after the creative writing summer school, I completed my Honours thesis in creative writing and graduated with First Class Honours. Four years on, I am now entering my second year as a PhD student studying English/Creative Writing and writing a novel. The summer school certainly served to cement my passion in life.

I was surprised by how quickly I was welcomed into the Oxford community and how at home I felt almost immediately upon arriving at the college. The AIM Overseas staff were so incredibly helpful in preparing me for the trip in the weeks before I left, with live chat sessions to ask questions, as well as several emails and checklists that were great for organizing my documents, etc, before departing.

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It is definitely worthwhile doing a bit of research on the country/city before arriving as it helps you feel less like a lost tourist when you arrive! Also having all your documents (including travel insurance, email correspondence, etc) and details handy in your carry-on luggage so you know the address and other important information for when  you arrive.

It was pretty heartbreaking leaving Oxford after the three weeks because I made such amazing friendships in a short amount of time. Though at first I worried about whether we would keep in touch and whether three weeks wasn’t enough to cement a lasting friendship, I was certainly proved wrong. Four years on, the alumni of 2010 still have an active facebook page/group, constant email contact with my special people, as well as a bi-annual creative writing journal produced by us online, which we actually started during our last week in Oxford! Don’t let anyone tell you that beautiful friendships can’t be made in such a short time. When you meet people that share your passion and interests and who can creatively inspire you to keep pushing at your craft, they won’t be leaving your life quickly.

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I am currently entering my second year as a full-time PhD student at the University of Newcastle, studying English (Creative Writing) and writing a novel. I never would have had the confidence and inspiration to continue writing at an academic, or even postgraduate level if I hadn’t attended the summer school. Before going to Oxford, I was enrolled in a Law degree without any idea of where my career was headed. I ended up deferring Law to do an Honours year in Creative Writing, and was eventually offered a scholarship to complete a PhD in English. I also work freelance as a writer and editor for magazines and online publications. Being able to cite my experience at Oxford University as a key developmental process in my academic and creative career as proved invaluable to gaining employment in my chosen field.

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Take the opportunity while you can! You might spend years or semesters putting it off for some reason or another, but you should truly make the effort to jump at the chance to travel and study while making lasting friendships and connections with people all around the world.

I would do another overseas summer school in a heartbeat! It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life to date.

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