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Oxbridge Success History at Woodhouse
Woodhouse College
Oxbridge Success History at Woodhouse

My Woodhouse English language

Zosia Melanczuk
Zosia Melanczuk
 
Zosia Melanczuk came to Woodhouse from Queen Elizabeth’s Girls’ School and lives in Whetstone. She studied English language, English literature and geography at A level and graduated in 2018 with BAA. She is currently at Cardiff University studying Journalism, Media and English Literature.
 
She spoke to us during her second year of A levels... 
 
“I’ve always wanted to be a journalist, that’s where my interest in English language stems from and that’s the career plan I’ve set out for myself. My family have always been slightly political, and I remember when I was younger that my family would often be crowded around the dinner table in deep discussion, though I was a too young to participate. Now, it’s geographical journalism that interests me rather than political, and that interest stems from news reports I saw in 2012 about the BP oil spills and the ensuing scandal surrounding it.
 
Polish is my first language (I have A level Polish and am fluent) as I was born in Poland and came to the United Kingdom when I was five years old, so English is something that I had to learn later than most. I wasn’t going to apply to Woodhouse at first as I don’t really like change, so I was all set to stay at my school. But my friend was pushy and said “Come on, we need a change, we need to apply somewhere else…”and she helped me fill out the application, because I said I would never change my mind about staying at QE. When the college offers were sent out, I didn’t get one, not even an interview – because I lived to far away (I used to live in Welwyn Garden City). I think it was the fact that I was rejected at first that I thought “Hold a minute, I don’t want to be rejected, I want them to accept me”. So, I wrote an email saying please don’t take the fact that I live so far into account because I’ve lived here and gone to QE no problem for five years and my attendance is brilliant. And I got an interview, and I got the place… and then I thought “Wow, I really do want to be at Woodhouse now.”
 
The vibe that you get here is that everyone enjoys their studies and just being here… no one has to force them to come here. You walk round the college and people are happy to be learning, and it’s nice to be around people like that – they’re not just waiting until 3.15pm so that they can leave…
 
A level is definitely harder because of the detail. GCSE was boring for me and I didn’t enjoy it but coming to the open day I saw that it’s not the same – it’s not just analysing how people speak. Here we have class discussions and I learn things that I’m genuinely interested in.
 
There’s a lot of group work in English language, and we often get assigned projects with lots of practice investigations. I had one where we had to set a hypothesis and ours was ‘Women tend to notice colours more than men” and then we went around the college asking people to describe a jumper that we had, and we used bar charts and statistical analysis to produce an academic poster. Very different from just taking notes from a text book, we rarely do that.
 
The teachers are really involved in their subjects here and give us lots of wider reading, which is really important in English language, and there’s so many different sources like the library which is great. We definitely get good support here, I attended subject tutorials regularly last year – there’s extra work, support, notes – and they definitely helped get me my grades.
 
We had a trip to The Guardian newspaper last year and spent the day formulating an article about things we felt were important. I wrote about hostility in London and some wrote about politics, fashion, music…and we had one of the reporters helping and guiding us, telling us how to improve and as someone who wants to do journalism that was a great experience.
 
It's impossible to not have friends if you go to Woodhouse – there’s someone for everyone. If you are a shy person there are clubs and societies to help you get going – I’m not really a shy person myself but I know people that are, and obviously those that aren’t help those that are – so the social aspects of college life is really amazing.
 
The extracurricular? If you are into music, sports or even like discussing religion – it’s all here. Or even if it isn’t here you can sign up for the creation of a new club and start your own, and you have time in your day to do it, so that’s fun. I went for the more academic clubs and EXPOSURE (the charity) have links here – I helped on the college magazine for a term and we produced a couple of editions.
 
I also took a rowing course and that was an amazing experience. It was hard and physically challenging. I met new people and there were groups of us working together, four to a boat. It was obvious that someone had to fall in the water… and of course it was me – but it wasn’t embarrassing, it made the day even better – catching the tube afterwards, soaking wet, was a memorable experience!
 
Making final decisions and meeting deadlines is something I’ve found really important this year. I’ve had to learn to be more flexible with my time because it’s not just doing your classwork anymore, that’s just not enough, you have to work outside too. Woodhouse wants to prepare you for the next step if you want to go to university, or take a gap year, or work. They try to get you ready for that.
 
And it’s not just enough to have good grades anymore… you need those extracurricular aspects, and your work experience, your volunteering – and Woodhouse has all of that available for you. There are people you can see if you don’t know where to start, there’s a career advisor –I’ve seen her a couple of times when I was really confused and didn’t know what I wanted to do anymore because I was getting side tracked, she was really helpful.
 
Second year students said last year at open day that they loved Woodhouse and were so sad it was coming to an end for them… And now I’m one of those people because soon enough I’ll be leaving, and I really don’t want to. I’m sure uni will be fantastic, but I really like it where I am.”