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Computing spotlight: Miguel Simão
Miguel Simão lives in Portugal, and completed a part-time Diploma in Computing with the Department (which is now the Advanced Diploma in Data and Systems Analysis) in 2009. More recently he commuted from near Lisbon to attend one of our weekly classes.
'About 4 years ago, I searched the web for online courses in programming. I aimed for the best: the University of Oxford, and found an online course Diploma in Computing course. I immediately contacted the Department, applied, and was accepted on the course the following year.'
'I live with my wife and two kids in Évora, in the Portuguese countryside, about 130 km from Lisbon. It's a lovely old town with a history rich in Roman and Muslim influences. The city is beautiful but it doesn't have many choices for employment or for higher education for those people like me who are interested in going "beyond the limits". '
'The course was very demanding. About 90% was online and 10% was held in Oxford -- including a Summer School in August. I met some interesting and intelligent people on the course, and some became good friends.'
'After finishing the Diploma in 2009, I wanted to go a bit further, and spend more time in Oxford. I was in charge of the accounting department of a well-known clothing company and was bored. I thought to myself, 'you've only one life, why not look for something really interesting and challenging?' So eight months ago I left my job. I now support myself as a trader (something I'd done as a hobby) and this leaves time free to learn more programming.'
'I had a little experience in HTML with Diploma course, and I wanted to improve my knowledge in a traditional classroom environment at Oxford. So after I quit my job I applied for the Web Design & Development course (a weekly class) and bought the plane tickets.'
'I could have taken the same course in Portugal; however, I really value the prestige of the University of Oxford, and I love the city. The quality and challenge of the courses at Oxford are amazing. Also, the cost of the course was very reasonable: anything in Portugal was going to cost me about seven times more.'
'For these reasons I will willing to travel between Portugal and England every week for 10 weeks!'
'To do this I would leave Évora at 7.30 am, drive to Lisbon Airport, hop on British Airways to Heathrow, catch the Oxford to the Gloucester Green bus station – and then walk half an hour (I needed to stretch my legs by this time!) to attend the lectures at Ewert House.'
'Final words: What I did, anybody can do it. The point is not doing what everybody thinks is impossible, but doing what everybody thinks might be possible but hasn't tried. I tried, and got it!'