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Komal Kumar

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Komal Kumar - BOSP Oxford

Komal Kumar (she/her) - Stanford in Oxford

Major: Political Science
Minor: South Asian Studies
College year while abroad: Junior
About the photo: The photo is set in the courtyard of the Corpus Christi College on a bright sunny day (a rare occurrence during winter). From left to right, the photo features Leila, Komal (me), Minha, and Megha. These are some of my close friends from my quarter abroad. We were celebrating the weather and Minha who was completing her second quarter in Oxford.

Questions and Answers with Komal

Why did you choose to study abroad in Oxford?

I wanted to supplement my studies of South Asia through the Oxford tutorial system. To further develop my ideas and writing about modern South Asian history and politics, I wanted to challenge myself with enriching academic engagements with an expert in the field. I am also deeply interested in understanding the South Asian diasporas across the globe and hoped to engage in South Asian cultural and political spaces in the UK. I am fascinated by historical cities, so I was excited about exploring Oxford and understanding its culture and positionality through time.

What were your expectations before you went and how did those change once you arrived in Oxford?

Before arriving, I expected Oxford to be similar to Stanford. Huge, quiet, and a bumble. But I arrived in an alive city, buzzing with activity and people. I was fascinated by the historical buildings, roads, and spaces where the university and city become one. I was warmly welcomed by the Stanford House staff and felt right at home.

What were some of the academic benefits from studying abroad in Oxford?

The Oxford tutorial system is an incredibly enriching academic experience. Among Stanford academic opportunities, the abroad tutorial system is a unique opportunity to engage in personalized, in-depth learning. I experienced a considerable improvement in my reading, writing, and critical thinking skills. I made progress in overcoming personal obstacles in engaging in academic discussion. I developed clarity for my honors thesis project through broad and in-depth exploration of niche academic topics. I enjoyed the academic freedom in shaping my learning and developing essential skills.

What did you learn about yourself while you were studying abroad?

The most challenging experience for me was adjusting to a new routine where I was spending most of my time independently engaging in academic coursework. This was different from my previous experiences at Stanford where I was juggling different school, work, and extracurricular commitments in group settings. The tutorial was an intense, yet fulfilling experience, which allowed me to develop better independent learning habits.

What was the most challenging experience you encountered while you were abroad and what did you learn from it?

Oxford has many formal traditions which are culturally different from those at Stanford. There are certain unsaid rules and expectations in engaging with faculty and staff and participating in social spaces like dinners and gatherings. It took a while to make the cultural adjustment, but it was an important learning process.

What was the biggest cultural adjustment you had to make?

Oxford has many formal traditions which are culturally different from those at Stanford. There are certain unsaid rules and expectations in engaging with faculty and staff and participating in social spaces like dinners and gatherings. It took a while to make the cultural adjustment, but it was an important learning process.

What was your favorite part of your everyday life in Oxford?

My favorite part of the day was my morning walk: listening to qawwali music while strolling through the old, pebbled streets of Oxford to have a classic English breakfast (paired with the best smoothies) in the historic Corpus Christi college.

What was the most memorable experience you had while you were in Oxford?

My most memorable abroad experience was the time I went to London with my anthropology seminar class. I traveled on the classy London subway, visited an intriguing museum on the concept of time in our contemporary world, toured small quirky bookshops, had the opportunity to try Uyghur cuisine for the first time, and watched Portrait of a Lady on Fire in a grand London theatre.

What 5 words would you use to describe your experience?

Fascinating, insightful, heartwarming, healing, energizing

What was your favorite food you had in Oxford?

Vegetarian kebabs at Ahmed's Bar B-Q food truck (super close to the Stanford House!)

What was the most valuable item you took with you on the program?

An old photo of my nani (grandma), mom, and me

What was your favorite music/band that you discovered in Oxford?

Ali Sethi and Abida Parveen