My Woodhouse Classical civilisation

Olivia Emin
Olivia Emin
Olivia Emin came to Woodhouse from Mill Hill School and lives in Muswell Hill. She studied classical civilization, history and English literature at A level and graduated in 2018 with AAA. She is currently at Durham University studying Ancient, Medieval and Modern History.
She spoke to us during her second year of A levels...
"I joined Woodhouse because there are a lot of subjects on offer, the most at A level I’d seen. Originally, I planned to study philosophy but found it wasn’t for me, so I chose classics because it’s like a mix between history and English, two subjects I really enjoy.
I read a lot and have always been interested in mythology - Greek mythology at first. When I was younger I got really into the ‘Percy Jackson’ movies, that’s maybe where it started. I’ve always loved performing drama and have been in shows and plays as I’ve been growing up and those were probably my first experiences of the stories in classic Greek tragedies.
I like the fact that the classes are a good size, which means we have really nice discussions. Also, I was really keen on studying drama but I didn’t continue it at A level and what I like about classical texts is that they are such a heavy influence on plays. This term we are reading ‘The Aeneid’ about the foundation of Rome, and since studying classical texts I see so many references in pop culture and movies.
In the first year, we do four plays and one full book. In a typical lesson, we’ll often start with a fun activity like a short quiz on the last lesson and then maybe read a section from a play and analyse it, and then have discussion in the class followed perhaps by a practice paper at the end of the week.
Even though there are more students in your year, there’s a lot of pastoral support at Woodhouse. I only have one teacher for classics which I think, for a subject like this, is quite good because your progress is a lot more closely monitored. Something I think Woodhouse teachers do really well (not just in my classics class) is be available to you, which, for me, has made approaching exams a lot easier. At GCSE, I could never get myself organized whereas here there’s help. We have a shared area on the college network which has a lot of resources. Also, because not many schools offer classics, there are not many revision guides out there, so we are lucky that our teacher makes them for us.
Outside of my classics study I’ve been on the college history trip to Berlin and the French trip to Paris - they were both very worthwhile and it was a great opportunity to travel. We also got a lot of freedom and space to see what we wanted to see and do our own thing, not just stuff that was timetabled, which was nice.
I took a summer school at Durham where I got to take part in an archeological dig at Binchester Roman Fort. I’ve been to lectures at UCL and Kings, and on trips to the British Museum - all things that have been recommended or organized by our classics department. And I’ve had great help with references for university applications. If Woodhouse don’t organize it already they’ll always make sure you know how to find what you need.
I’m applying to Durham, Oxford, Nottingham, St Andrews and Exeter to study a degree in either classics, classical archeology, classical studies or classical civilization. After graduation, I quite like the idea of law and crisis management PR - which don’t have anything to with classics, but you can’t really do a degree in crisis management. I plan to use my time at university to study something that I enjoy.
GCSE was quite stressful for me so it’s a lot nicer coming to a college that is a bit more relaxed and it’s been easy for me to settle in. When you start, everyone is new and it’s not like some people are doing BTEC – everyone is doing A levels and you are all in the same boat – it’s easy to make friends and you get treated quite maturely by the teachers – it’s certainly not like you are in a school.