Astrid had to learn English as a teenager and was not considered by her school to be an ‘Oxbridge candidate’; she studied Chinese, matriculating in 1982.
I attended a comprehensive school in North London, having arrived in the UK aged 14. I had to learn English and get used to a whole new culture and was not put forward by my school as a potential Oxbridge candidate. I think I surprised my teachers when I took the (then) fourth-term exam and was offered a place to read Chinese.
I am very proud to have gone to Fitz and my time there was formative. I was challenged intellectually and I took up new sports, including rowing (I rowed in the Blondie boat) and ice hockey. At the time, there was only accommodation in college for the first year and I lived in shared houses for the remaining three years. I became a lot more confident during my time at Fitz and although my career has never been financially stellar (I ended up becoming a midwife and then a health visitor), I am confident enough to know that I am employable.
I always enjoy confounding people who don't expect me to be a Cambridge graduate (for example the somewhat snooty medical students who were on placement with me as a midwife) and I always promote the University to able students who may never have considered applying to Cambridge or Oxford. I have always been able to converse with people from all walks of life, from academics and public school educated people, to the refugees I now encounter on a daily basis and I am able to dispel myths about either group to the other.