Tales from the Departure Lounge

#37 Anvee Bhutani (The Oxford Exposé)

March 17, 2024 Andy Plant & Nick Cuthbert Season 3 Episode 37
Tales from the Departure Lounge
#37 Anvee Bhutani (The Oxford Exposé)
Show Notes Transcript

The University of Oxford is consistently ranked as the best university in the world, yet it is often accused of elitism and archaic traditions. The TFTDL crew speak to international graduate Anvee Bhutani, a journalist at The Telegraph, about her time at Oxford and she doesn't hold back! From celebrity classmates to abhorrent behaviour we discuss entitlement, invite-only clubs and bomb threats with the former Students' Union president. 

Is an Oxford degree a golden ticket to life? What's wrong with politics in the UK? And what does Anvee think of Saltburn? Sit back, relax and enjoy the journey. 

Final destination: Oxford, United Kingdom 

Not to be missed! This inspirational student story is brought to you in partnership with The Ambassador Platform, a leading peer-to-peer marketing and recruitment platform that connects your current students to prospective students for honest advice. Check out www.theambassadorplatform.com 

Tales from the Departure Lounge is a Type Nine production for The PIE www.thepienews.com

Andy:

Bow chicka wow wow Plugged in.

Nick:

Let's talk nonsense Welcome to Tales from the Departure Lounge. This is a podcast about travel for business, for pleasure, or for study. My name's Nick and I'm joined by my co-pilot, Andy. And together we're gonna be talking to some amazing guests about how travel has transformed their. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey. Welcome to the podcast.

Andy:

Today on the show, we speak to Anvi Bhutani she is a journalist, at the Telegraph.

Nick:

she was an international student From the U. S. who came to study at the University of Oxford, a university that's been consistently ranked as the best university in the world. For many, many years.

Andy:

This is part of our student series. We're trying to get students or early graduate voices, particularly international students,

Nick:

she didn't hold back. She literally opened the secrets of the University of Oxford.

Andy:

It's fly on the wall stuff.

Nick:

she tells us about her, misadventures as she tries to explore the slippery social ladder that exists in a place that has, Celebrities, the children of the rich and famous, some of the most powerful families in the UK, if not on the planet.

Andy:

she's come from a very different background and then is put into that environment where there's formality and tradition, which is very different to what she's used to.

Nick:

Harry Potter, with a kind of dark magic twist. Yeah, lots of slivering For 99 percent of the higher education sector, we focus on preparing students for real life. But the University of Oxford stands separate to that. it's a secretive place, an elitist closed book. that many of us will never understand or experience.

Andy:

She's the journalist outsider who was president of the Oxford Students Union, from meeting celebrity students to tearing down the establishment and alerting the bomb squad. Let's get some tales from the Departure Lounge from Anvi Bhutani.

Anvee:

I think Oxford's very elitist. I think some of it can be observed in traditions that they continue to uphold. These are people above us. We respect them, but we also adhere to this hierarchy. these 8 to 10, commando style people, come in with their, helmets, cause I'm like a bomb threat now. I think it's a mischaracterization that Oxford students can't have fun. he decided to create this, event called Kinks and Liberty. We were threatened to be sued more times than fingers I have on both hands.

Nick:

So before we get into the episode, a quick word about our latest sponsor. Most of our listeners spend a lot of time traveling the world, staying in hotels or apartments, often where they haven't stayed before. I don't know about you, but whenever I'm choosing a hotel, I like to check out online reviews, or even better, ask friends or colleagues for recommendations. International students face the same uncertainty with their study choices, but the investment that they're making is much greater than the price of a hotel room. They'll be investing in that study destination for years. This is where the Ambassador Platform helps your prospective students. It links them up with your current students to receive honest, personalized advice and to answer any questions that they have. This is a direct and trusted source of information. It provides instant reassurance for students and improved conversion for your university. And it's not just messaging. Your ambassadors can generate their own content and videos to share, showing prospective students from anywhere on the planet what life is really like at your institution. And it gives them confidence and reassurance about their decisions. we're really excited to have teamed up with the Ambassador Platform to bring you some tales from the Departure Lounge with real students and graduates, to show you how powerful the student voice can be. So to find out more about this highly impactful peer to peer platform, or to book a demo with one of the friendly TAP team, please visit the link in the episode notes or go to the ambassadorplatform. com.

now let's get on with the episode

Andy:

Amvi, welcome to the podcast. It's great to have you on.

Anvee:

Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.

Andy:

The first question we always ask our guests is if you could take our listeners anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Anvee:

I think everyone needs to take a trip to Oxford University. my first time there was only when I was interviewing there. And, What everyone really needs is a guided tour from a student because you can go there and it's very pretty and you can take cute photos, and that's very different to, seeing the nitty gritty details that a student would point out, like,, where they threw up on a night out or, where they, where they, saw Emma Watson last week

Andy:

is that what you had when you first went? A guided tour?

Anvee:

no, I just went, for my interview, so I didn't have a tour at all.

Nick:

We should explain you from the U S so you traveled over just for an interview.

Anvee:

Yes. I'm born and raised in California. My first time actually to Europe was, when I came for interview and that's because Oxford, now no longer, but used to have you come for your interview if you can.

Nick:

Going to interview. At the best university in the world must be terrifying.

Anvee:

You know what? I had, a very low, expectation of how this is going to pan out. I didn't really think I would end up at Oxford. So actually on my way back, I bought some nice Oxford jumpers and I thought, this is the only time in my life I'm going to be here. I might as well, get my Hogwarts photo, get the jumpers and then I can leave. Because it was very low stakes for me, i. e. It wasn't the end of the world if I didn't get in, because it seemed so far fetched anyways.

Andy:

So I'm really interested, what's Ambie's guided tour of Oxford?

Anvee:

There are some classic places that you have to go like the main libraries and, picturesque buildings, I would definitely take you there. my college is quite bizarre, I love taking people there, because we've got a whole herd of deer. so right in the centre of town, you've just got, I think, 80, 90 deer that just roam our college freely. I do like taking people to see the, controversial historical points as well. There's a statue of a slave owner that's been hugely debated, in the past decade or so. There's some colonial relics that you only know if you lived there long enough. so some extra fun spots.

Andy:

Not where you threw up then,

Anvee:

this time, maybe two or two.

Nick:

If you go to a city like New York and you walk around, that something's happened, his historically important, or culturally relevant on literally every corner, every building. I always imagine that Oxford must be the same. You must be living in the. The shadows are standing on the shoulders of these, alumni giants. Does it feel like that?

Anvee:

yeah, in some way it does feel like you're standing, in living history. In my second year, I was just living in one of the rooms in my college. And then half way through the year I find out that I'm living in Oscar Wilde's old room. Um, so things like that really make you feel like you're part of the history. sometimes I'll be listening to Pop music or rap music in one of these old libraries and then I'm like, wow The person who constructed this library did not expect, you know Some 5'3 Indian American girl to be listening to Taylor Swift in this library Many leaders around the world you trace their origins back to Oxford. there's even faculty that are so old that they taught Boris Johnson, and they always have interesting things to say, mostly negative ones.

Nick:

we're all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. That was written on the wall of my student union bar, but here you are in Oscar Wilde's actual room.

Anvee:

I mean, that's a really good quote.

Nick:

Did you have any guest lecturers come in to talk to you at Oxford?

Anvee:

Yeah, there were many, many a guest at Oxford, I will say.

Nick:

Who did you meet?

Anvee:

two years ago I was able to meet Hillary Clinton, which was pretty cool. Uh, even cooler because I'm American, but. I didn't meet Hillary Clinton in America, I met her in Britain.

Andy:

Chelsea went to Oxford as well, didn't she? Chelsea Clinton.

Anvee:

So did Bill Clinton. But, rumour is he never finished his degree. There have been loads Bernie Sanders came in when I was there, Malala Yousafzai, well she was a student actually. I went to a ball and met Malala. This is in my first year, and it was a polo club ball, polo club as in horses. I think it was

Andy:

Highly accessible. Everyone does it.

Anvee:

Exactly. I mean, I did it last week. So it was a polo club ball, like 300 for the evening. There were some international students that had bought tickets but their study abroad programs were calling them back to their home countries. So we got it the night before for 30 pounds each, Figured out clothes to wear and stuff go to this ball very fancy you can take like photos with nice stallions and stuff and very posh, and then lo and behold, Malala and her whole fan group were there. And I was like, oh my god. Now this is the first famous person that I'd met in Oxford. Now I feel like I've met a lot, so it wouldn't be as, surprising, but I was having such a fangirl moment, because I'd read Malala's book and I really thought that she was like a great role model for women and there she was just with her mates, And then I couldn't stop fangirling for the next half hour. They were like, relax and be like, she's literally a student here, it's not that big a deal. But I was like, no, she's Malala!

Andy:

Did you tell her that you think you should be best friends?

Anvee:

I felt like that would be, really pushing it with her. But I've met her since, and I follow her private Instagram.

Nick:

Classmates with famous people and celebrities and,, the children of celebrities. It's just such a hard thing to get your head around.

Anvee:

Tony Blair's son was my year or the year above me there was this Belgian princess that was the year after me. One of these guys I knew he was a Bavarian prince, my Westminster friend, his best mate was a Thai royal. lots of personalities come through the doors. Emma Watson is a student now. It's a shame I've missed her.

Nick:

So

Andy:

How does it tie in with the city, do you think, the university? I've been there a few times and the centre of Oxford is all the university and all these marvellous buildings that you talked about, but then it's shut off to the general public

Anvee:

I think if you're a student, you can really turn a blind eye to it. and you can get absorbed in the city centre. but there is a very much town and gown divide. So if you, it's often seen as like a postcode thing. So OX1 is the city centre, pretty much. Everything happens there, and that's where most of the colleges are. Some stuff extends to like, OX234, but beyond that, that's no man's land. students don't really go there. and most students are oblivious to the fact that there's, ordinary residents and stuff a lot of city people are like, fed up with it. Hate that there's so much traffic and, students are just meandering about at all hours of day

Andy:

just punting everywhere, aren't they? Just punting all over the place.

Anvee:

Yeah, just, just punting or like, you know, going on nights out, like leaving rubbish in parks. I know students do that a lot.

Nick:

Debating on every street corner.

Andy:

Yeah.

Anvee:

exactly really just, you know, talking their ear off.

Nick:

It's quite elitist. That's what people think, maybe closed off to the world or closed off to a lot of society. do you agree with that?

Anvee:

wholeheartedly. I think Oxford's very elitist. I think some of it can be observed in traditions that they continue to uphold. I went to quite an old traditionalist one. We had formal dinner four times a week. A three course sit down served meal. When the professors walk in, they sit on what's called a high table and it's literally a raised elevated table. and you have to stand up and as they walk in, and then they'll say grace and then everyone will sit down. And then again, at the end of dinner, everyone stands up just so that the high table can leave. And I think. that's very elitist. It does say that, you know, these are people above us. We respect them, but we also adhere to this hierarchy. there are some colleges that are more quote unquote progressive that have done away with this. Wadham College doesn't have a high table anymore or St. Hilda's College. They have like circular tables that they dine on and the professors eat alongside the students. For the most part, Oxford's elitist, like very elitist. Um, and things like this, I think speak to it.

Andy:

they're sort of hangovers from Victorian boarding schools, aren't they? Talk our listeners through a formal dinner. What do you have to wear? why do they exist?

Anvee:

To be honest, I don't know why they necessarily exist. But usually what you wear is black tie. So, for men that's a suit with a tie, for women, it's a dress, um, Um, oftentimes a longer evening gown style dress. you have what's called selfusks, so it's like a traditional Oxford gown. Elitism even comes into this. depending on the degree that you hold or your academic standing, you'll have a different gown. So, the professors have a different one to PHDs to Masters so you'll see like a blue stripe or a golden stripe. and then it goes all the way down to undergrad. So I used to wear a quote commoners gown. That's what it was called. Oftentimes, the students can be elitist as well based on just their cultural upbringing. So Most students won't even say thank you when the food's, placed in front of them. I don't know if that's normal. It doesn't really seem normal to me. Um, They won't even say thank you or even, acknowledge with a smile, the person that's putting the food in front. They'll just carry on chatting and then afterwards you'll go to the college bar, they'll give you some glasses of ports. the dinner also comes with wine accompaniments.

Nick:

Like another world.

Andy:

That's what I was thinking. It's so removed from reality, isn't it? You wear, wearing a gown to a formal dinner it probably used to happen quite a lot, I guess, in real life, but it doesn't really happen.

Nick:

The higher education sector talks about preparing students for real life.

Andy:

yeah, it's almost the opposite

Anvee:

Yeah. I mean, it's, it was very bizarre to me as an American, I'm from California, I'm from the Silicon Valley. Everything that we're taught is how can we be more cutting edge and push the limits and then Oxford is the exact opposite. It's how can we. adhere to tradition from a thousand years ago and continue to follow in the footsteps of the people that came before us. And I think there's very much a place for that and I think I have grown to have a, fondness for it. But, yeah, very strange.

Andy:

This is the bad PR that Oxford and Cambridge, are trying to escape, isn't it? The likes of the Bullingdon Club and, these kind of elite societies. did you come across any of that?

Anvee:

Um, definitely. So I there are other invite members clubs. Let's just say that still persists under the radar I had someone I knew who tried to start his own Secret club and he wanted to start a male only dining club. Then he was advised by his friends, maybe male only dining club isn't, great in the 21st century. So he makes it gender inclusive. And, he printed off these invites on this nice little parchment type paper and then like wax sealed them all. And like, I'm not kidding. Um, deliver them to like, everyone has a little mailbox. It's called a pitch. So deliver them to people's pitches.

Andy:

Delivered with an L, right?

Anvee:

well, yeah, of course. Um, but seriously. He delivered one to me. I didn't end up going because I was student union president of Oxford and this was at the same time. And I was like, there's no way I want to be near a, male invite only dining club.

Nick:

Are we reading between the lines here? There's some seedy undertones

Anvee:

it seemed suspicious. Um, so a couple of weeks later, I have an email from the student newspaper being like, hi, we found out that you were invited to this invite by Only Dining Club. Given the fact that you're an elected student representative and da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da.

Nick:

My mind is boggling here, Ambi, I'm getting the vibes here that it's the mixture of intellectualism, intellectualism, and debauchery. You know, like Socrates and sex or something like that.

Anvee:

Yeah,, you know, I think it's a mischaracterization that Oxford students can't have fun. I think they have more fun than they should probably. Oxford students can come up with the wildest things, So, there's like an economist called Hayek, and there was a society at Oxford called the Hayek Society. now It's not enough to just talk about economics, you already do that if you're an Oxford student. So, it's like, how can you spice up economics, make it sexy? And this student, he decided to create this, event called Kinks and Liberty. It was meant to be talking about economics over, some alcohol and then a secret after party if you happen to get invited. and, the first week, the student newspapers get sent to this and are reporting on, what it's like and did it end up in a sex party afterwards or what ended up happening? Nothing really happens. Newspapers are disappointed, you know, whatever it is. The second week, there is a secret after party and, you know, you probably don't want the details of what went down on the podcast, but let's just say it was too libertarian.

Andy:

Wow.

Nick:

It lived up to its name.

Anvee:

Exactly. I mean, I don't know if Hayek would have been proud or disappointed or both.

Andy:

Must eat like toast! on, I'm interested in the Oxford Blue, your experience there, that was the newspaper, right? And then also being president of the Students Union. That's quite high profile, high responsibility.

Anvee:

at the student newspaper, we were threatened to be sued more times than fingers I have on both hands. this includes like pre action legal letters, meetings with solicitors. sometimes, by Oxford colleges themselves. So imagine me age 20 student journalist extraordinaire, and then, an Oxford college, which has been around for like 500 years.

Andy:

Were you, just very reckless in what you were printing or

Anvee:

not really. I think, the colleges have a self preservation desire, right? So they need to safeguard their reputation. different colleges will always have different scandals going on, so, yeah, as, and when you publish about those things, or, you get in touch to ask for a comment before you publish, the college will send you back a, very strongly worded email, sometimes a solicitor letter, then, you have to figure out how you're going to deal with that with, no expertise, no money, nothing. You've got students involved in student politics and you're right about them. and then, their uncle runs Allen and Overy's Europe division. And then you'll get a letter from Allen and Overy and you're like, Jesus Christ. Um, if I, interned at the New York Times, I wouldn't have to deal with that. So, it really teaches you how to think on your feet, At the student's union, any scandal that happens, it's going to be at the front page of the Times and Telegraph the next day. In the year before me and in the years after me, I've literally seen every student union president. Become a national headline at some point

Andy:

So what was the most scandalous thing you reported on

Anvee:

Ooh In terms of the university, something I reported on was, Oxford, professors accused of sexual misconduct were still allowed to continue at the university. that was a pretty strong story and I think that and a couple of other things actually encouraged the university to revamp their, staff and student relationship policy. and then I did this. piece during COVID, which was, police called to the Oxford union, over a lockdown party that was thrown at the height of tier two restrictions Um, I then find out that Downing Street was also having a lockdown party at the same time. And I was like, well, you know, if, if it couldn't be any more obvious, the types of people that go through these institutions.

Nick:

A lot of people feel like going to Oxford is a golden ticket for life. Do you feel your degree opens doors for you?

Anvee:

It would be wrong for me to say that it doesn't, I think an Oxford degree does offer you opportunity. But I do think that Oxford's not necessarily, a golden ticket in the traditional sense. it's oftentimes sold to young people, especially from underprivileged backgrounds who are doing their GCSEs and A levels as, you go to Oxford and that's it, your life will be, be changed. and it's not really that, you have to make it that. I think if you come in from either a socio economically disadvantaged background Oxford is, is not going to be that welcoming place. Going to these formal dinners some of these balls cost like two, three hundred pounds for just one night. All of that is not something that you can really afford. and then you feel like you're behind your other peers or that you're not able to take advantage of opportunities that Oxford offers. if you want to get involved in, for instance, the Oxford Union, which is the famous debating society, you have to work vacation days, during your Christmas or Easter holiday. And that's unpaid work. You have to pay out of your own pocket to live there and eat and to do like free work for the debating society and at the end of the day the debating society is home to the likes of Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees Mogg all of these politicians and famous people but Is that really accessible to someone who's,, not able to afford that per se? I think there's been a lot of work done to alleviate some of those financial burdens, don't get me wrong, but still you're behind your peers I know people who, grew up in poverty, came to Oxford, thought that they would get out of poverty and they're still in poverty. They have to pay their student loans and they have family who economically depend on them. And they didn't end up getting a JP Morgan job. They actually wanted to work in the arts or charity sector. And they're making living wage and having to support their family. And, you know, was Oxford really a golden ticket for them? I mean, it's debatable.

Andy:

it doesn't automatically plug you into those networks does it that already exists for many of the students before they go there

Anvee:

One thing that I didn't realize is how small these networks really are. At Oxford. Every year you've got like 50 people from Eaton, another 50 from Westminster. that network already exists on day one. you know, one of my best friends, is a Westminsterian. And in the first week, I remember just walking around, having lunch or dinner with him. And he would always be running into people he knew. And for me, that was a really bizarre thing. We've been doing the same induction activities. And going on the same, nights out so how come you know, so many more people than I know? And he would just be like, no, no, no, I just, like, know them from school. But I was like, how is, every third person someone you know from school? And then I was talking to one of my other friends and she was like, well, Anvi, that's what it means to go to Westminster. And I was like, I don't, I don't know what that means, I'm not British. Um, but those, those networks exist and all of the London public schools, as in like fee paying private institutions, everyone knows each other, especially if you were involved in debating or Model UN or sport or whatever. And those networks persist in Oxford and they're kind of impenetrable unless you come from an equal social standing. Maybe you're like a. You know, privileged boarding school person from outside of the UK and then you find yourself in these same networks, but otherwise those patterns replicate and then they replicate after you graduate as well.

Nick:

And these people represent some of the most powerful families, employers, influential people in the country.

Anvee:

exactly. I was president of the Students Union, editor of the paper, involved in the debating union, involved in my college, I wouldn't say that I, didn't try to take advantage of every opportunity at Oxford. And yet, I can still say that I'm not in these networks.

Nick:

We have got to ask you, have you seen Saltburn? Because this is what the film is about. It's a kind of comic horror about A boy who comes from Liverpool to Oxford and finding these networks and finding his way, amongst privileged people.

Andy:

I haven't seen it because, uh, people that have watched it have told me that you can't unsee it once you've seen it.

Anvee:

I still haven't seen it, but I need, it's on my watch list. But I've spoken about it with other people and they're like, yeah, you just have to see it. You have to see it once.

Nick:

It's so graphically shocking. but the underlying principle, is this horror based action that this one character takes to rebalance things, let's say that. sucking out

Anvee:

will, I will definitely watch it before the next time I see it.

Andy:

The next section of the podcast is called Any Laptops, Liquids or Sharp Objects? when you go away, Anvi, what do you have to take with you

Anvee:

I am a gen Zer, so laptop is something I can't live without, my phone is not enough. Even if I'm, even if I'm going on a day trip, I'll take my laptop with me. So definitely that. headphones. these are all pretty basic things. I Did once get, stopped in Berlin airport. I was on a connecting flight and I got stopped for a bomb threat. basically, I had my carry on bag, I was just putting it through the security again for, my connecting flight. And it's pretty routine, I'm half asleep, just putting my stuff through, walking through the metal detector. And My bag gets taken aside for, further inspection. They've got these little swabs and they just open up your suitcase. They swab the inside and the outsides, and they run it through their machine. That's happened to me I've seen it a handful of times and it's always like whatever negative. But this time it comes back positive. I. e. like my stuff has bomb residue in it. And now I don't speak any German so I'm like Jesus Christ, what do I do now? So as soon as this happens, the security officer ends up frantically speaking in German. he's like radioing in You know, bomb squad, essentially. And these 8 to 10, commando style people, come in with their, helmets, cause I'm like a bomb threat now.

Andy:

Is everyone just sort of gradually stepping backwards away from you?

Anvee:

well, yeah, I'm just stood there. And they're like, they're yelling in rapid German, and I have no idea what's going on. And then, one of them, I guess he's like the most brave one, he like puts his Helmet down and then he like approaches my bag because I think he's going to be the one that Does the search of my stuff in the meantime? I'm just stood over there with my like passport and boarding cards now the head of the bomb squad comes over to me and He he's like, oh, is that your passport? I'm like, yeah, he's like, oh, are you american? I'm like, yeah, and then he goes over to his guys and he basically calls them off like And he's like, okay, you're free to go. And I was like, oh, okay. So, just because I had an American passport, I think they just didn't want like an international incident or something. And they were like, whatever, she's American. It's cool, guys. So me and my bomb residue was allowed to, allowed to go through. Hehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehe Yeah, I know.

Andy:

Wow.

Nick:

I was hoping they were going to detonate your bag.

Anvee:

No, sadly not. But, it still is bizarre to me to this day because, they even swab my hands.

Andy:

I had it come back positive once. I didn't quite get the bomb squad, but it was, early November. And I'd been letting off fireworks, I don't know, a few days before or whatever and then went through an airport and I, yeah, I tested positive for

Anvee:

Really?

Andy:

because of the fireworks.

Anvee:

Yeah, I hadn't even been handling fireworks, I have no idea where I got that from but,

Andy:

just, just bombs.

Anvee:

well, clearly.

Andy:

The next section of the podcast is called what's the purpose of your visit? So why do you do what you do?

Anvee:

Well, I'm a journalist. Because I I like talking to people, I like hearing their stories, I studied anthropology at uni, but I'm just generally curious about how people live, especially people who live different lives to me, and I think that, that's basically what journalism is about.

Nick:

Anvi, I once heard a story about, some privileged students who were burning money in front of a homeless person. And I think rightly they were taken to task in terms of the university and also a criminal charges as well. Is that that level of. Privilege and being completely out of touch, something you saw.

Anvee:

I mean, it's interesting you mentioned the burning money in front of homeless people. person situation because that was done by someone in the University Conservative Association. while I was a student, um, the president, who then became the president of the Student Conservative Association, actually assaulted a homeless man. He basically took his McDonald's food and chucked it at a homeless man. And his defence was, well it wasn't that bad because there were still some fries left in my bag. Um, yeah, just really horrible, really horrible stuff.

Nick:

That sort of immature behavior happens quite a lot with students. It's totally unforgivable.

Andy:

They're often showing off to each other, aren't they, as well,

Anvee:

you know some people, sure, but I think the people who are actually rich, usually not. It's the people who are trying to climb up to those upper echelons of wealth that feel like they have something to prove

Nick:

money or,

Anvee:

Yeah, like, even, not, not even necessarily, doesn't have to be cross, but you'll find that people who are trying, because there are a lot of people that try to social crime in Oxford, yeah, they're not actually rich, they're just trying to seem rich, it's really weird, like I think class is just so obvious at Oxford, it's not like a meritocratic thing at all, or people will be dating other students, and they'll be like, well, I could never actually end up with so and so because, insert really classist remark here.

Nick:

I'm a Thai prince.

Anvee:

Yeah, they would be like, do you think my family, would be okay if I, got married to someone whose mom's a cleaner? Things like that. And as a third person, I then really struggled with what, what do I say here?

Nick:

I mean, I'm struggling now. It's

Anvee:

Yeah,

Andy:

I'm trying to excuse it with immaturity they don't actually have the perspective that they will have in the future,

Anvee:

but you know what? I think they mean what they say. That's the problem. When they grow older, they probably just won't say those things in public or whatever, but it doesn't mean that they don't think those things, but because they're immature, they just say what's on their minds. Most students who leave Oxford, are mini replicas of it and you just know what they're going to turn out to be in 30, 40 years. They'll just become better at pitching themselves publicly.

Andy:

And often they're already wearing tweed.

Anvee:

There's so many people who are tweet, it's I hate it. I know this guy. He's so strange he's from a billionaire diplomat family. American. But He grew up in Colombia, and he's a Marxist Leninist socialist, but he wears tweeds every day,

Nick:

he's got some identity issues.

Andy:

Yeah. The next section of the podcast is called Anything to Declare, and it's a free space for you to talk about whatever you like.

Anvee:

I feel like this is the hardest section. I could dish out something like that's very controversial.

Nick:

Go on, give us something controversial.

Anvee:

Okay, this upcoming year is a big election year. Given that I'm, living in England, but I'm American, but then my extended family is Indian. That's three elections to keep up with. and, at university I was very much a, an elections fanatic, if you will, I run for student union and, always encourage people to like vote for the student body elections and stuff. But after a lot of reflection, don't necessarily believe in electoralism as a means of effecting change. I realized that whilst I was student body president actually in the sense of, I had a lot of lofty goals of, this is an age old university and here's how I want to change it. We can improve the policies in this area and make it better for students from disadvantaged backgrounds I left the year feeling like. I did achieve a lot, but in some ways I achieved nothing. and what it made me realize is, the difference between,, politics and activism When I was a kid, I, I very much would dream of One day I'll be the first female American president, and all of this stuff, But I saw this tweet a while ago, and it was like, politicians never make change, they just facilitate change. it's activists who make change, they're the ones who usually set the agendas, they're the ones who are campaigning out in the streets, they're the ones who are, getting the media coverage around these things, getting it in the public opinion, um. Politicians are just the ones who meet with activists and figure out how to translate it into policy. And so I think it's very naive to say that electoralism,, is going to actually be what's making change.

Nick:

I think there's Loads of young people, but just people in general who are disenfranchised they see politicians being very much for themselves. I went to see a comedian called Stuart Lee and he did a great line after being disgusted with the current government, I look forward to just being disappointed by the next, which I loved.

Anvee:

Being a politician is very self serving. Like I think, it's insane for politicians to claim that they're doing it for some greater purpose. I think the only person you serve as a politician is yourself. And the only thing you're achieving is getting reelected.

Nick:

I love that idea though, let's not rely on politics let's be activists in our own community. That's how you change things.

Anvee:

If you think your community has a rubbish problem, find people to pick up rubbish with, You know, don't don't wait. So you're a city council like passes a resolution in four months Do something about it

Nick:

It does sound mad when you say it like that. You could pick up the litter or you could try and get elected to get someone else to pick up the litter.

Anvee:

I think people are being more active members of their community. And I think it should always be encouraged.

Nick:

A great answer. That wasn't controversial. That was brilliant.

Andy:

Anvi, thanks so much for coming on the podcast. It's been great having you.

Anvee:

thanks so much for having me. I hope I was able to provide some kind of insight.

Andy:

You definitely have.

Nick:

Hello everyone. Thank you so much for listening. As always I want to say a massive thank you to the ambassador platform for making us focus on these incredible students and graduates and telling their stories. I hope you're enjoying this series.

We have a new social media campaign. People are sending us their travel pictures and we're putting them all up online. Or you can send them to as sick bag tales from the departure lounge.com.

Nick:

Uh, it's really good to be back. and Andy's made a jingle to celebrate. Safe travels.

Andy:

Welcome back, welcome back. Hi mum. Yeah, my wife, thanks, good to be home. Nah, jet lag's okay actually, just a bit tired. Oh, don't kiss me in public. What's for tea anyway?

Nick:

Tales from the Departure Lounge is a type nine production for the pie.