Tanja Ohlson


DPhil Programme in Management Studies




Corporate Communications


Started in 2015

By Tanja Ohlson

Are we all training to be wizards?

I am still new at Hogwarts, um, I mean Oxford. I know, comparing Oxford with Hogwarts has been done a million times and is such a cliché that I hope I am not turning readers away with my very first sentence of this blog.  But I can’t help it: I arrived in Oxford only about a month ago to start my new life as a DPhil student in Management. The first few weeks have been great- and they have indeed reminded me of a certain popular school of magic at pretty much every turn.

There are all the very obvious similarities: several buildings were the backdrop for the Harry Potter movies. Oxford students look like they stepped right out of the movie when they wear sub fusc, the traditional academic outfit complete with mortarboard and black gown. During Fresher’s Dinner, the long candle- lit tables in the colleges feel like the Great Hall of Hogwarts, even if you are not a member of Christ Church College.


The college system itself reminds me a lot of Hogwarts as well. Instead of just four houses, Oxford has more than 30 colleges that people get sorted into. For me as a DPhil student my college provides a similar level of social life and potential friendships as Gryffindor did for Harry.

That is not to say that friendships don’t form elsewhere as well. The DPhil cohort is a great group and we are quickly becoming friends. I see the other DPhils almost every day. I meet the first year students in the courses we take during Michaelmas and Hillary term and the more advanced DPhils in the Doctoral Research Centre or the cafeteria. No matter how busy they might be, everyone takes a moment to chat and we even had a small birthday gathering last week. We also have a dinner for the entire group planned soon. In short, Oxford makes it very easy for everyone to find their personal “Hermione” or “Ron”.

So much to learn

Oxford and the Saïd Business School has another, less obvious similarity with Hogwarts. Just like Harry at Hogwarts, we are surrounded by amazing opportunities here. The numerous societies, events and seminars provide extensive opportunity for distraction from and at the same time inspiration for my studies. It is easy to be double or triple booked almost every day. I have listened to experts talk about mind boggling research, just to head off to a completely unrelated wine tasting immediately afterwards. I went to a movie screening and ended up having a fascinating discussion with some unbelievably smart physicists and historians. All of these events inspired me to change perspective on my own field of study and I am sure in the long run it will enrich my research.

 Real magic

It is not easy to stay on top of my coursework, take advantage of all the opportunities and simultaneously attempt to do great research. I admit, there have been several days when I wished I had a time turner, just like Hermione does at Hogwarts. Unfortunately, Oxford doesn’t seem to provide those.

Even without the spells that Harry, Ron and Hermione learn at Hogwarts, Oxford really is a place full of magic and we indeed are training to have magical skills. Still not convinced? In only those first short weeks here, I got to witness people all around me do incredible, magical things. Their charms range from time management skills to fantastic research abilities that sometimes look a lot like magic. But most of all, the people here are brilliant and yet very down to earth, the best in their fields yet humble and most of all, they are very warm and welcoming. They have magically transformed this place into my new home in a matter of weeks. I look forward to learning these enchanting, wonderful skills from them over the next years.


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