Roy Celaire, who crowdfunded his £30,000 place at Oxford University, talks about the surprises of his first term.

OXFORD, or the City of Dreaming Spires as Matthew Arnold once called it, has been a very interesting, hectic eight weeks.

Here’s why.

As some of you may know, getting to Oxford was not easy for me.

After having to turn to crowdfunding, running a successful campaign with the support of many, particularly Jon Blair CBE, Professor Dame Mary Beard, and receiving immense support from a plethora of individuals, I was then able to take up my place.

Read again: The man who crowdfunded his place at Oxford

Oxford has been quite enthralling with its mystical ritualistic traditions, filled with pomp and circumstance, and what might be deemed whacky and odd to the outsider, keeps myself and all other students interested and happy to play along.

The Oxford Times:

Roy Celaire's college, Keble, on leafy Parks Road.

As an anthropology student the very specific culture of the university, with its own colloquialisms, unique phrases and idioms, captivated my inherent desire to explore, question and enquire.

Don’t get me wrong, I did not come to Oxford expecting to encounter many black people, as sad as that may sound, but it has been surprising to see how few black students there are overall, specifically at the postgraduate level and who are from Britain.

I have encountered so few black British postgraduate students it has been dispiriting, and made me wonder if I’d be successful in gaining a funded place on a DPhil (Oxford’s version of a PhD) which is extremely costly and which I wouldn’t be able to afford.

Read again: Oxford and Cambridge accused of 'social apartheid' over lack of offers to black students

If Oxford and Cambridge are the universities which overwhelmingly produce tomorrow's leaders, politicians and other prominent figures in a range of areas, but do not produce their own Black British postgraduates, then this has an effect on decisions being made, since black people are not part of the dialogue of what changes need to be made.

Having no black people involved in decision making will naturally produce skewed results which ultimately negatively affect black and minority students, and indeed those from a working class background.

Someone recently said to me that there are quite a few black postgraduates at Oxford, when I asked how many were British, they were silent.

The Oxford Times:

They were silent because Black British students at the postgraduate level essentially do not exist, bar a tiny handful.

My aim is to undertake a PhD, become an academic and broaden what is on offer at university, as courses do not reflect the ideas, cultures and histories of the diverse makeup of UK citizens.

I realised that I was living in a bubble the moment I went on one of my many walks.

Within my immediate surroundings, I am exposed to wealth, the different colleges of the university, students, the university departments and all things Oxford.

The centre of Oxford is of course also very white and I thought that that was Oxford more generally, until leaving the bubble.

On leaving the centre, I saw the city was more diverse than I had thought.

The Oxford Times:

Cowley Road Carnival 2018 in East Oxford.

I saw black and Asian people, ‘ethnic’ shops, white working class people and an aesthetic that was different to what I was used to seeing.

I remember speaking to an owner of a Caribbean restaurant who told me that Oxford had a big black community and an area of the city where they predominate.

I was of course stunned by this, it reminded me of the Banlieue in France which houses the majority of its poor and minority ethnic populations on the outskirts.

Read again: Helpers wanted for Cowley Road Carnival 2019

Overall, so far it has been an exciting and alluring experience. People have been really friendly. There are a range of students with diverse interests and who are open and explorative. You don’t often realise it, but you are frequently coming into contact with people whose parents are CEOs, famous actors, and generally people who will become distinguished individuals themselves one day.

It is an interesting contrast to the background I have come from, where poverty was the norm.

I’m excited to see what second term has to offer and what the future holds.