Ali Mitchell left d'Overbroeck's in 2008, having gained five A's at A level – in Classical Greek, French, History, Japanese and Spanish. We caught up with Ali shortly after he received these results. Since we spoke to him, he's received an unconditional offer from Balliol College, Oxford, to read Classics and Modern Languages.
What are your plans, post-A levels?
‘I'm planning to spend September to December in Paris – perfecting my French – and, with luck, December will be occupied with an Oxford interview (fingers crossed). I've been invited to spend some time in Australia in 2009, and I'd also like to go to Japan again, to put into practice what I've spent three years studying.’
Tell us more about Japanese. How did you come to be learning it?
‘It all started with a dispute with a friend. We were watching a film, and I felt that the subtitles weren't accurate. My friend dismissively said, "Yeah, but what can you do about it? It's impossible for foreigners to learn Japanese".
‘[Latin and Ancient Greek] cultures are fascinating: simultaneously very different from and very similar to modern Europe.’
‘... So I bought some CDs and started to teach myself. Finding that I enjoyed it, I decided to seek out a real teacher. I eventually decided that I liked Japanese enough to do it to A level, so I did GCSE in my own time allowing me to do the full As and A2 at d'Overbroeck's.’
You studied an unusual selection of subjects at A level. Which did you enjoy most?
‘It's hard to say – I enjoyed all very much. If you twist my arm, I'll probably say Latin and Greek (although technically separate, they're really educational siamese twins). Setting aside the languages themselves, these two cultures are fascinating: they're simultaneously very different from and very similar to modern European cultures. What's more, without the Greeks and Romans, Europe – and the rest of the world that it influenced – would be unrecognisably different.’