Meeting the families of some of our students has become somehow standard business for us at BSG – with an age range from 21 to 41, it often happens that students are followed by their children and partners in relocating to Oxford from across the world.
However, the excitement for Juan David and Diana’s arrival was palpable last September, because their case is quite unique. They are married, and they are both BSG students. Diana is studying for an MPP, while Juan David is one of of our first DPhil students (the DPhil programme started in October 2014).
We could even go as far as saying that BSG was one of Cupid’s arrows that brought them together, but let’s hear it from them – they’ve kindly agreed to answer some questions about their life at BSG as a couple.
You’re both strongly committed to public policy, having had roles as advisors within the Colombian government. How did the decision to both study at BSG come about?
Juan David: Before we married or even started dating, both of us kept an eye on BSG’s evolution. In 2011, I obtained a master degree from Oxford University and was waiting for the DPhil in public policy programme to be launched, while Diana was searching for MPP programmes in the US and UK since she finished her undergraduate studies in 2010.
Diana: Actually, BSG kind of brought us together. I met Juan at Law School in 2008 while I was a student and he was a teacher at Javeriana University in Bogotá. Some years later, when he came back from Oxford, I contacted him to know his impression of the University and about BSG’s MPP programme. One thing led to another and in March 2013 we got married. Coming together to BSG became our first project as a married couple. We feel very blessed for making our dream come true.
What are challenges and benefits of being together in this new situation?
Diana: So many challenges! Adjusting to a new life-style, new city, new responsibilities, new roles, missing our families… But, we have learned that every challenge is an opportunity to grow professionally, academically, personally and as a couple. Facing these challenges together has definitely strengthened our bonds and helped us to work as a team.
Juan David: Nowadays we have more quality time together than back home, when we headed to our works around 7am and came back very late. Besides benefitting from studying simultaneously and exchanging our thoughts about what we have learned, we also enjoy the small pleasures of our every day life at Oxford.
Diana: In sum, experiencing BSG alone is certainly a unique opportunity, but being able to share it together is even better than what we could ever imagine! We advise other couples that think about studying together to plan ahead and aim at having this kind of experience.
Studying at BSG – in particular for the MPP – is really demanding and intensive, but there is also some time for leisure, and Oxford is a beautiful city. Are there any activities in particular that keep you busy during weekends?
Diana: Besides public policy, we certainly have many interests in common. For example, cooking and inviting our friends to our flat, strolling along the city’s pebbled streets, jogging at University Parks, attending concerts at the Sheldonian Theatre and eating chocolate in any form. Also, the MPP and DPhil classes are amazing, it’s so much fun to hang around with such a diverse and interesting group!
Juan David: Last year we also started a new couple’s endeavour: to interview high-profile experts on pressing policy issues in Colombia and publish the texts in the politics news website La Silla Vacía.
Obviously Juan David’s doctorate is a three-year degree, so you’ll be based in Oxford for a little longer. Do you have some ideas for your future plans?
Diana and Juan David: We will definitely go back to Colombia and participate in the country’s discussion of its many development challenges. We owe it to all the people that did not have the opportunity of studying in a world-class University like we did. We like planning together, and we have been thinking that one of our next married couple’s projects may be to set-up a non-partisan think tank that contributes to raise the level of public debate and propose implementable strategies to have a more equitable society. Likewise, at some point we would like to work again in the government.
We wish all the best to out first BSG couple, and we look forward to welcoming more couples, families and students. And if you’d like to know more about studying at BSG, just check out other students’ experiences on our website.