The Investment Scientist

Funny Tidbits at Oxford

Posted on: October 14, 2021

Last Saturday I completed my executive MBA study at Oxford. The whole thing actually started quite serendipitously. A client of mine who is a physician studied there and he liked it so much that he encouraged me to apply. Today I’d like to share some funny moments on my journey.

As part of the application process, I went to Oxford for an interview. I booked a student dorm room at Sommerville college, and when I checked in, I was mesmerized. The dorm room looked and smelled like it was right out of a Harry Potter movie. The adjacent canteen looked like the Great Hall at Hogwarts, with walls adorned with huge classical paintings of accomplished women alumni. 

That night I was the only resident in the entire building, and it didn’t take long for me to notice that the bathrooms were not marked by sex, and in fact there were no male bathrooms. Later I found out that Sommerville is the first girls’ college at Oxford and Margaret Thatcher herself graduated from there. 

At Oxford the full academic dress is called the Subfusc, as shown in the picture of me wearing it. Now the funny part about the Subfusc is that we had to wear it to attend an exam! In addition to that, there are other strict dress codes for attending an exam, like no colorful socks.

Our end of study ceremony took place last week at the Sheldonian Theater at the center of Oxford. There I learned that we were not allowed to wear our Subfusc hat once inside the ceremonial hall. There were hat “police” wandering around to make sure our hats were off our heads. How bizarre! Hat on for exams but hat off for graduation. 

Some of the most fun moments were when I produced two musical improv shows for my classmates. In 2020, I brought North Coast Hip Hop Improv from New York City to perform for us. Just last week, I enlisted Showstopper from London’s West End to perform for us. Here is a clip of them making fun of us newly minted executive MBAs:

Another fun thing is that I learned to write poems, and at the request of a classmate, I wrote one for our end of class ceremony. Here is the beginning and the end of my graduation poem …

Can you believe we’ve come this far?
Once felt like shooting for the star
Let’s go down the memory lane
Relive the moments that are insane.

We are the cohort Jay one nine.
Come to Oxford so we can shine.
Hail from Continent one to five
At Ashmolean we first arrive.

A deluxe dinner is going down.
Get to know your diverse backgrounds.
Our classmates are so amazing!
And some deserve extra praising.

… (middle omitted)

All of the challenges we overcome.
With good measures not overdone.
Now let us raise a glass of wine.
Celebrate crossing the last of line.

All of us can feel very proud
Our spirits are on the 7th cloud.
Just see what we all have achieved.
And the relationships that we’ve weaved.

Amazing journeys lie ahead.
Driving us to get out of bed.
We are all on great adventures.
Oxford memory forever endures!

Today I shared just a few funny tidbits. In my next article I will share some more useful information, like what I have learned that will help me serve my clients better.

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Michael Zhuang is principal of MZ Capital, a fee-only independent advisory firm based in Washington, DC.


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