OUSL Activities in 2012

November - December 2012: Practice Interviews for Oxford and Cambridge Candidates

Every year demand for practice interviews for Oxford and Cambridge applicants seems to increase. This year there were no less than 37 applicants (20 to Oxford and 17 to Cambridge), with requests for practice spread across 15 Oxford courses and eight Cambridge courses.
This meant we had to find suitably qualified members who could simulate interviews on a wide range of subjects, from Classics to Maths & Philosophy to Computer Science.
Amazingly we did it! Thanks to the efforts of 35 volunteers, from both OUSL and the Luxembourg Cambridge Society, we found subject specialists and observers and also homes and offices where we could run the practices.
Of the 20 Oxford applicants eight were called to interview and 13 of the 17 Cambridge applicants too. Three offers of places were received from Oxford and one from Cambridge. Although the numbers are small, 38% of Oxford interviews resulted in offers of places. We have received interesting and appreciative reports from the students about their real interviews and the value of the practice.
We hope that more members will be able to help us with the practice interviews in the autumn of 2013.
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15th-16th November 2012 - Oxford University Stand at Luxembourg Foire de l’Étudiant

For the sixth year running OUSL ran the Oxford stand at the Foire de l’Etudiant on 15-16 November. We fielded a younger team on the stand, including one current undergraduate and a recent graduate. We were also honoured by the presence of the Senior tutor and tutor for Admissions of Brasenose college, Dr Simon Smith, who joined in the counselling of interested school pupils. For the first time we faced friendly competition from the Other Place, which had its own stand. Nevertheless we qualified 74 expressions of interest for undergraduate studies. We also recorded nine expressions of interest for graduate studies as well as talking with teachers from three schools where we had previously had no contacts.
See a picture of the stand at its busiest.
It’s satisfying work and we hope that more members will volunteer to help us again next year.
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24th October 2012 - Social Dinner

Following the success of the Social Dinner we held on 13th March 2012, we decided to make it a regular event. The "Goethe Stuff", an Alsacian restaurant in Luxembourg City, hosted us for a pleasant evening of good food and great conversation. 18 of our members came along. We were particularly honoured to welcome among us His Excellency Wataru Nishigahiro, the Japanese Ambassador to Luxembourg and a Corpus Christi alumnus. We look forward to repeating this event in 2013 possibly in conjunction with our friends from the other place!
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13 September 2012 - Tour of the Luxembourg Fortifications

We covered much more than fortifications in our four-hour walk. Life and death in the city, water supply, Treaty of London, Roman roads, Roman signal station, road maintenance depot, grain store, the remnants of Mansfeld’s palace and the grave of the unknown soldier and of the German veteran, confidence trickster and folk hero, William Voigt aka Captain von Köpenich. Thirteen Oxonians plus David Heal started the tour at the top of the Bock, the site we were informed of a Roman signalling post which could see Dalheim in one direction and Heisdorf and Mersch in the other - a chain of stations which covered the Roman empire.
Please read our report of the tour, and visit the Gallery to see some photos of the event.
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8 September 2012 – Visit to Nancy

Six members of the Association and six guests joined the visit to Nancy on 8th September 2012. We were greeted with a cloudless day and a gentle breeze. An early morning start earned us, before we started the serious business of the day, a coffee pause at that exemplar of the Art Nouveau, the Brasserie Excelsior. From that stucco-fern-vaulted place of refreshment we walked past a further example of the style on our way to the real starting place, the astonishing place Stanislas. Our guide of the morning was Mme Marianne Vallois. She drew us into the lives of the Nancéiens by telling us of the tales of humanity and ribaldry, as well as the straight history, behind the public monuments. She told us of the rare combination of personality, politics, genius, artistic energy and finance which, in the mid eighteenth century, brought into existence this pearl of architecture. We then strolled through the narrow streets of the old town to visit the c. 19 neo-gothic church of St Epvre, recently restored to expose its vast array of stained glass. A few steps from there took us to the former renaissance palace of the Dukes of Lorraine and to the museum of art, housed in its main, and now sole surviving, wing. There we saw choice works of the painter, Georges de la Tour, and of the engraver, Jacques Callot.
After an excellent and deftly served lunch at the Chardon Bleu restaurant across the road from the museum, we travelled four hundred years forward to the Musée de l’école de Nancy. There we met our fresh guide for the afternoon, the redoubtably encyclopaedic Scots lady, Mme Jeannette Puyjalinet. She lucidly explained the sources, the tenets and the forms of expression of Art Nouveau and of its associate, Art Deco. Like the good schoolteacher she had been, she challenged us with questions. She told us how many arts and crafts came together to express the new style and to make Nancy a centre for the new aesthetics. The tradition is maintained in the modern Daum glassworks. We stayed with this époque as we returned to the Place Stanislas, to the Musée des Beaux Arts. Arrived there, and with our thirst quenched, our guide took us first to the basement of the new wing of the museum, which houses, next to remnants of the defensive walls of the city, the liberally displayed glass produced by the Daum workshops. We observed the evolving styles, the artistic innovations and the themes from nature that characterised the designs.
Our brief visit concluded with a glance at two paintings depicting the Battle of Nancy of 1477, which was the decisive in preserving the independence of Lorraine from Burgundy, and at works by Caravaggio and Guido Reni, commissioned by former dukes. After refreshments taken at a terrace café on the square, we embarked on our coach and journeyed uneventfully back to Luxembourg.
We felt content with a day steeped in the rich art of a region lying at the doorstep of Luxembourg. The concepts that inspired that art and the craftsmanship which produced it induced us to reflect on the sometimes dull or shoddy work of lesser periods.
Please visit our Gallery to see some photos of the event.
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18 July 2012 – Oxford v Cambridge croquet match at the British Ambassador’s Residence

Blessed with glorious sunshine, minty-fresh Pimms and a superb view over the Vallée de la Pétrusse, the inaugural Oxford v Cambridge croquet match was “struck-off” at the British Ambassador’s Residence. In spite of short notice, Oxford managed to assemble a 15-strong team of experienced (and many more inexperienced!) croquet players.

In spite of this disparity in croquet craftsmanship, the unorthodox layout of the croquet lawn effectively levelled the playing field. Matches were won, matches were lost and no-one was keeping score, but we are fairly convinced we won. Nevertheless the enduring uncertainty regarding the final score can only be resolved by way of a rematch.

Plenty of Pimms remains and a few OUSL members have already expressed their interest in hosting Luxembourg's second Varsity croquet match on their lawns next year. We plan to take them up on their offer and hope many OUSL members will join us in retaining the title. Lastly, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the Honourable Alice Walpole for welcoming us into the Residence and hosting such an enjoyable event.
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14th June 2012 - OUSL AGM and Annual Dinner

On 14th June some 45 Oxonians and guests assembled at the Cercle Munster in Luxembourg-Grund for the Society’s annual dinner. Our guest of honour and speaker this year was Judge Pauliine Koskelo, President of the Finnish Supreme Court. We were privileged to hear from her a closely reasoned evaluation of the functioning of the system of human rights in Europe. She also expressed her concern about the effect of the current crisis on the funding of the justice system overall.

Our Annual General Meeting was held just before the Annual Dinner but did not draw anything like the same number of members as the latter. The new Chairman, David Clark, reported that the Society had now reached a record number of 58 members and the Treasurer’s report revealed a healthy balance. The Chairman’s Report and the Annual Accounts are available for you to download.

The meeting expressed its deepest thanks to the retiring chairman, Roderick Dunnett, for all that he had done over the last eight years to build up the Society. The committee had earlier invited Roderick to become an emeritus member, which he was pleased to accept. Thanks were also expressed to Chris Vigar and Jean-Claude Muller, who were also standing down from the Committee. Jean-Claude Muller has agreed to remain as Cultural Advisor to the Committee. In the election for the new Committee all the remaining members were re-elected and three new, younger members joined its ranks: David Weis, Dawit Demetri and Hervé Hansen.
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19th April 2012 - Student Event

The Luxembourg high-school campus in Merl was the scene of the first Oxford & Cambridge Information Event for school-leavers on 19th April. With the support of CEDIES (the student guidance service of the Luxembourg Ministry of Education) we attracted 200 students and teachers to the Forum building to learn more about studying at Oxford and Cambridge and how to win places there.

The UK Ambassador spoke of the advantages of studying in the UK whilst the head of CEDIES showed that even with the new tutorial fees in the UK, studies at Oxford or Cambridge were still affordable for Luxembourg students. Dr Simon Smith, Senior Tutor and Tutor for Admissions at Brasenose College, Oxford and Dr Laurent Frideres, Bye-Lecturer at Girton College, Cambridge spoke about how the universities choose their undergraduates and Alex Christie, a former Oxford student who is disabled, eloquently expressed the care and support given to students throughout their studies.

The talks were followed by workshops where interested school leavers could question former students in different disciplines – aided by drinks and snacks kindly provided by the Ecole de Commerce et Gestion. This went on for more than an hour with students joining different groups and visiting the stands set up by the Oxford and the Cambridge university societies. Meanwhile teachers joined a special workshop where they were able to discuss selection criteria and entrance procedures with Dr Smith and Dr Frideres.

Every scrap of literature was given away and there were requests from many quarters for more follow-up information and a repeat next year.
See some photos and a newspaper report.
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13th March 2012 - Social Dinner Meeting

Since one of our society’s aims is simply social, we decided for the first time to hold an informal social dinner meeting open to members and guests. The Caves Gourmandes was our chosen venue for what proved to be a lively and enjoyable evening. To be repeated in the future!
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Oxford University News

Latest edition of Oxford Today read

Oxford University to have ‘most state school students for decades’

Almost 60% of offers made to pupils at state schools.
Read about this and the University’s extensive school outreach work.

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