St Thomas' Summer Blogs

Sunday 7th July to Saturday 20th July

Thursday 18th July 2019


What a day for #TeamThomas! The day kicked off with the usual breakfast, classes and independent study for all students! After a good lunch break, students were treated to a conference on social impact and changing the world: this was an opportunity to hear from exciting speakers involved in incredible projects aiming to do positive change and many students came up with initiatives that could impact change in their community —  Charlie, founder of The Blair Academy, a social enterprise dedicating to teaching hip-hop to seniors notably piqued Ioan’s interest! Charlie even gave our group a dancing class!

The students then got together to discuss ways they could foster social impact of their own and actions they could take locally: Madison suggested raising awareness over epilepsy and possibilities of treatment; Carlotta, Kas, Ioan and Georgina deemed climate change to be the priority to be tackled; and Ellen suggested organising beach cleanups using connections formed through climate-change movement Extinction Rebellion. Jean also impressed by engaging in debate with Lampl students over the risks of an initiative offering sheltered dogs as companions for homeless people; and Ben told the group about a garden hospital he had worked on in New York! We hope to hear more about these ideas soon through the Scholastica Foundation, which provides advice, publicity and funding for our alumni’s project!

With many students’ heads full of ideas, the students headed to Pizza Hut for some well-deserved pizza before our house’s very own talent show — OSA’s Got Talent! Everyone came up with impressive acts: Desirae, Kelly and Jenna notably delivered a hair-painting performance that led to Jean’s hair turning purple! Events Officer (and host) Ryan particularly liked Zuzana and Alicia’s ‘dad jokes’ performance or Jeremy’s cover of hit-song Tequila; and the room was impressed by the dancing act led by JB, Amanda, Maame, Bethany, Josephine, Gwen!

However, the jury ultimately crowned Mehnaaz as a winner for her impressive cover of Christina Perri’s Jar of Hearts; and they were awarded the  first OSA’s Got Talent 2019 prize of the summer! The team particularly appreciated everyone’s efforts in creating this amazing show! Today, students get some sleep; tomorrow, an exciting last day of classes for #TeamThomas!


Wednesday 17th July 2019


What an exciting day for #TeamThomas as they were reunited with other houses for the second trip of the summer to Windsor Castle, the Queen’s favourite weekend residence of a thousand rooms and the home of many royal weddings!

The day began with free time in Windsor for all students — while most students used the opportunity to visit the town and go shopping (with Marina finding a particularly weird rubber duck looking like Queen Elizabeth II!). Many could not miss seeing the iconic Changing of the Royal Guard at the Castle!

The students then reassembled for an audio-guided tour of the Castle and the many rooms where the Queen lives! Benjamin particularly impressed Activities Coordinator Carys with his knowledge of the Royals — there was no need for an audio guide when Benjamin was around!

After a long day of visit (and many new photos for our student’s Instagram stories!), everyone headed back to Oxford for a large and well-deserved meal at The Breakfast Club; before a night of relaxing at the house with their friends from Lampl — during which the house’s Puzzle Gang (Kas, Maria, Ioan, Carlotta, Ellen and Georgina) finished a thousand-piece puzzle in record time!

Having had a long and eventful days, many students headed to bed before another action-packed day — with talks about social impact and our very own talent show!


Tuesday 16th July 2019


It is Day 10 of Oxford Scholastica Academy for #TeamThomas! The day began as usual, with breakfast, classes and independent study for everyone! Lunchtime saw our students discover temporary chalk-based hair dye and the mildest hot sauces at Nandos.

After a lunch break — which some students used to join Events Assistant Caitlin’s running club around University Parks — it was time for students to attend a new masterclass for their future! Having thought about what they wanted for their future yesterday, students thought about ways to achieve success by discovering how to foster a positive mindset, how to deal with failure, and how to grow success! One of the groups looked at how Beethoven created music while being deaf, how Van Gogh painted despite having affected colour vision, how Tom Dempsey kicked a world record with a defective foot and how Stephen Hawking became a world-renowned physicist despite having ALS.
The students were then treated to delicious Asian food at Itsu before the third house night of the summer, games night!
However, it was soon time to wrap up for the evening with Head of House Jenny’s evening briefing ahead of a very special day — with an upcoming trip to Windsor tomorrow!

Monday 15th July 2019


Another week begins for #TeamThomas as everyone got ready to see their tutors again for another day of classes! The Enterprise students were tasked with developing a mind map on the principles of marketing while Medicine students had their essays from last week peer-reviewed by other students! During independent study, Creative Writing students finalised the magazine they had begun developing during the challenge – it was great to see that Madison was particularly proud of the magazine. Young Doctors worked on the future of medicine — with Carlotta writing an essay on the future of heart monitors and Liz on the future of hearing aids & balance.


After a (long) lunch break, our students had the opportunity to attend one of two masterclasses: many attended the first masterclass on the application process for UK universities, including help to make choices, write a winning application and be prepared to study in the United Kingdom! The second masterclass allowed other students to think about their future, including help to decide what career to pursue or what to study at university and how to best achieve your objectives — a ‘philosophically’ interesting session according to Amelie!



After some free time for students to have dinner at Westgate, all three houses met to discover one of the most iconic British plays by Shakespeare: Macbeth! Many students were particularly surprised to see their tutor Eleonora starring in the play and Kas, Benjamin, Ioan, Jeremy, Amelie, Liz and Madison even busted a few moves to Scottish songs at the end of the play!



At the end of the play, #TeamThomas reassembled at the house for a quick evening briefing before heading to bed. Today, students thought about their future direction; tomorrow, they explore the concept of success!







Sunday 14th July 2019


Sunday was a lovely day for #TeamThomas, packed with fun activities for the weekend! While all students were welcome to spend free time in the house in the morning, most of them opted for a well-deserved lie in! As everyone started waking up, #TeamThomas began getting ready for a traditional full English brunch at one of Oxford’s older colleges — Corpus Christi College. After brunch, all our students had some more free time to enjoy the British sun with many choosing to go shopping ahead of the Ball while a few went to play basketball in Oxford and Kas and Georgina continued the ambitious task of completing a 1000-piece puzzle!

#TeamThomas was then reunited at the house for Domino’s pizza before getting prepared for one of the highlights of the summer — the OSA Ball. Everyone was dressed in fantastic outfits as we boarded a boat on the Thames river for hours of fun tunes and high-level dance moves! Georgios surprised us with carefully crafted moves while Jean tried performing an interpretation of the French anthem for Bastille Day. Amanda, Maame, Gwen and Josephine also joined us on the dancefloor with amazing dancing to the sound of afro-beats!




With #TeamThomas making the boat shake as the sun went down, it was a night to remember for everyone. After an evening full of memories and fun (and a quick house photo! #TeamThomas), everyone was keen to head back to the house for sleep: tomorrow, students resume classes, get to think about their future and discover British classic Macbeth!






Saturday 13th July 2019


For their first Saturday in the house, #TeamThomas was reunited with the students from other houses to meet their Heroes — professionals in the students’ field of study who have taken interesting career paths and shared their life stories. Our students then put their hands to trying some of the daily tasks of our Heroes. The lawyers met Anarkali, a highly skilled family barrister who talked about her life at the bar; the International Relations and Debate & Public Speaking students met Sam, an analyst working on Brexit for the Bank of England; and the Creative Writing students met Jack — a dramaturge and theatre director with substantial experience!



Meanwhile, the medicine students met Khaled, a paediatric surgeon who told them about his path to surgical consultancy; the business students met George, a Business Development Manager with a career as a professional rugby player; the engineering students met Kat, a Canadian astronomer; and the computer science students met Karen, a programmer who has worked with Bank of America! With the help of our Hero, Medicine student Carlotta even got a crash course in surgical stitching!



After meeting our Heroes, all students were looking forward to lunch and an afternoon of free time around Oxford! We wrapped up the evening with dinner at Leon before our second house night of the summer — arts & crafts night! All students were able to show their drawing talent, craft friendship bracelets for their housemates and try their hand at biscuit decorating.



After an exciting day, everyone was keen to get some rest and headed to bed before a day of free time in Oxford and, most importantly, the long-awaited OSA Ball!






Friday 12th July 2019


Friday was another busy day for #TeamThomas as students got a unique opportunity to put the week’s work into practice with Challenges! Our Young Doctors and Medicine Preparation students headed to Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital to meet real patients; our Engineering Students built their own rocket; and the lawyers took part in a criminal mock trial in one of Oxford’s courts, with Marina, Ksenia and Jean delivering impressive legal submissions on a defamation case to their tutor Simran, and Gwen and Reynaldo acting as witnesses in an international criminal mock trial!



Meanwhile, the Business and Enterprise students worked with Computer Science students to build their own app – Vivian notably came up with the idea of an application recommending movies to users.



Finally, the Creative Writing students were able to rely on Kas’ imagination and Madison’s designing talent to create their own art magazine. In the meantime the Psychology & Neuroscience students created their own psychological studies — with Ellen and her group studying the thought process behind stimuli, and Zahrah, Amelie, Ioan, Desirae and Sarah studying attachment. We look forward to reading the results!





After an exciting day of challenges, the students were rewarded with dinner at Oxford’s finest hamburger restaurant, Byron; before getting time to unwind by relaxing with their friends around the house and playing card games. It was then time to head back to bed before meeting our Heroes on Saturday!





Thursday 11th July


Today, we held the Debate and Dialogue Masterclass at the Oxford Union. Home to the seat of debate and politics at Oxford University for over two hundred years, the Oxford Union is internationally renowned and has hosted speakers such as Britain’s ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Mother Theresa, Stephen Hawking, and Michael Jackson!
The St Thomas group first visited the Dialogue Masterclass with our tutor, Simran, where we developed our skills in polite and persuasive communication. The room was divided over simple issues – hotdogs vs. burgers (with some students protesting against both) or a divide of those in favour of avocados and against avocados. The latter divide revealed why our breakfast avocado supplies have been exhausted so quickly! We discussed tactics of effective communication and looked at how arguments can break down when there is a lack of evidence, inflammatory words and ad hominem (great catch, Ioan) personal attacks.
The Debate Masterclass saw our students debating their comparative value as superheroes in a sinking hot air balloon, argue for and against vegetarianism and discuss whether social media should be banned in a modern society. Our dinner (burritos from Mission Burrito, an Oxford favourite) was served in the Oxford Union courtyard. The final debate was held in the main Oxford Union hall where three St Thomas students were chosen to speak in front of a full Scholastica crowd. The motion being discussed was whether the government should boycott celebrities who are accused of illegal or unfavourable activities. Congratulations to Ioan, Huriyyah and Alan for their fantastic performance!





Wednesday 10th July 2019


No day is like the day before for #TeamThomas and today was an exciting day for all students as they were about to embark on their first trip of the summer! The day began with students hard at work as Young Doctors Jeremy and Alan discovered the mechanisms behind mesentric ischemia; Computer Science student Ben coded his own website with great ease and Psychology Students Desirae, Amelie and Sarah got to identify psychological disorders reenacted by our Activities Coordinator Tia!



After a brief lunch, #TeamThomas was reunited with all other houses for the first trip of the summer to Winston Churchill’s historical home in Oxfordshire, Blenheim Palace. Many students were in awe of the majestic gardens and fountains around the estate and got the opportunity to explore the palace and grounds.



Having visited the palace and its surroundings, students made their way back to Oxford’s city centre for dinner and their first House Night of the summer: quiz night! With questions on music, movies, British culture and fun facts about our staff, all teams were hoping to get their revenge over Team D — which had won the scavenger hunt. However, Alan, Gwen, Kashish, Ananya, Vivian, Keely, Sarah, Madison, Zarah, JB, Kas, Mohammed and George still managed to finish first with an impressive 48 points!



Before wrapping up for the evening, celebration was in order and #TeamThomas got together over some cake to wish Ioan a happy birthday. It was then time for everyone to get some sleep before a day of debating at the mythical Oxford Union!




Tuesday 9th July 2019


Rise and shine #TeamThomas! Today was the third day of the summer school and students spent the morning exploring their subjects in more depth: Psychology & Neuroscience Academy students explored the inner workings of love and affection — which particularly captured the interest of Ioan; Law Preparation student Ksenia started working hard on her strategy for their upcoming mock trial and Creative Writing Academy students have been working on character analysis — Mehnaaz notably considered analysing Phoebe’s character in iconic sitcom Friends!

After a good morning of work and a well-deserved lunch in some of Oxford’s many restaurants, our students headed to Cherwell Boathouse for Oxford students’ favourite summer activity: punting. While not everyone was comfortable with the boat and the giant metal pole that drives it, many eventually got the technique: Babatunde showed incredible punting skills and impressed many of us!



We finished the afternoon with a barbecue and games at Wolfson College — where many goals were scored by #TeamThomas and Mohammed showed the range of his technical skills!



Our students then attended our masterclass on happiness and ways to increase it with philosopher Michael Plant before heading back home for our daily evening briefing and a good night of sleep ahead of our first trip to Blenheim Palace on Wednesday!




Monday 8th July 2019


Today was an exciting day for #TeamThomas as everyone woke up well-rested and ready to meet their tutors for their first day of class: Zarah, a student on the Medicine Preparation Academy was particularly looking forward to her first class exploring medicine before beginning her medical studies in a few months…

Our students were all introduced to their subjects and, by the time classes were over, many debates had started: the engineers discussed the merits of automation while Huriyyah told us more about the ethical issues faced by lawyers!

After a well deserved lunch, our students headed for a tour of Oxford led by our Head of House Jenny, our Events Officer Ryan and our Activities Coordinator Tia! They discovered the main Oxford landmarks – including the Covered Market, the Bodleian Libraries and Jenny’s very own college at the University of Oxford, Oriel College.



Having explored Oxford, all students met at the house to work on the projects set by their tutors before heading back out for a Scavenger Hunt that took them to some of the landmarks they had previously discovered and at the Sheldonian Theatre where every team got their own graduation photo! We were particularly impressed by Team ‘Five Guys’ — with Maximos, Liz, Zuzana, Marina, Sanemee, Ksenia, Omar, Peter, Iddrissu, Maya and Ellen — who scored an impressive extra ten points by drawing a gargoyle that reminded them of Events Officer Ryan!



The day was finally wrapped up with an Italian dinner and ice cream and everyone was able to relax before the next day – tomorrow, students will experiment one of Oxford’s most unique activities, punting!






Sunday 7th July – Arrivals Day!


What a busy first day for #TeamThomas as fifty students joined the house for its first session of the summer! With students coming from all over the world – from the USA to South Africa, as well as India, Ghana, Switzerland, and many other countries – the house was full of energy before everyone had even moved in!



Having settled in and unpacked their bags, the students got to know one another over refreshments and a tasty barbecue on the roof of Oxford’s very own Norman Castle! Liz and Marina were very happy to pose for the camera and Ioan was particularly keen to share his passion for stand up comedy — we hope to see him run his own show at the upcoming OSA’s Got Talent show!


Our students were then formally welcomed by the Scholastica team and got to warm up with icebreaking games. Jenna was impressive when ducking in a game of Splat and Kas, Mohammed and Omar were particularly good at Wink Murder!




However, with many students coming from far away, everyone was keen to get some early sleep and head back to the house for Head of House Jenny’s first evening briefing before getting some sleep – with an exciting first day of classes and activities around Oxford planned for the next day!