An Induction Visit 26/2/19
|Oxford City Centre|
Please please please do not take this as a general for all Oxford offer holders as I can only speak from my experiences at St Benet's Hall.
St Benet's Hall, my college, offered me the opportunity of a visit during term time to meet the students and have a tour round, since at interviews you don't really get a proper feel of the place. Naturally I snatched their hand off.
I went up early in the morning (since I live about 2 hours away by train) to arrive at about 11am where I had tea and biscuits with the senior tutors, in this case Yvonne Cornish mainly and the other offer holders, although only two out of the other 4 offer holders came. I was initially quite nervous as the last time I saw Yvonne she almost brought me to tears in the interview, and afterwards I felt she had crushed all my hopes and dreams! (I exaggerate only slightly).But this time, armed with a cup of tea she was so much friendlier.
I found this talk with the tutors really useful for clarifying my concerns about the academic side of things such as the reading lists and how quickly we're chucked into the deep end- very quickly is the answer. It was also a great opportunity to meet some of the people I'll be studying with next year and actually hearing their concerns and questions calmed me greatly because I thought "Hey we're all in the same boat and my fears aren't irrational or stupid".
Then we went to lunch, which was delicious as I have found all Benet's food to be, and it was there where we were introduced to other first years and actually second and third years as well. St Benet's operates a common table in keeping with the egalitarian view of it's monastic origins. I found the whole experience really lovely because I already felt a warmth about the people and I had lots of people to direct my questions too.
After lunch I was given a tour of the main St Benet's building at St Giles' which I had actually experienced before when I stayed for interviews but after that I was shown the first year accommodation at Norham Gardens which was so much nicer than I had expected, a real warren but with lovely facilities. Throughout the tours the first years who were our guides were open and friendly and I felt totally comfortable and able to ask them a series of questions which privately I was quite embarrassed about for fear of looking stupid such as about bed sheets and showering. As it transpires the freshers had felt exactly the same and harbored the same questions. I already felt like a community feel was beginning to grow.
At some point during the day a Facebook group was set up to allow us to ask them questions we'd forgotten and generally badger them as it gets closer to moving in day which I feel much less nervous about knowing there are people to ask questions to and clarify things.
After booking my train tickets and then putting in some extra shifts at work I really wasn't in the mood for an early morning slog up to Oxford to meet a bunch of strangers and ask them my most embarrassing questions but in the end I felt it was a day worth spent and more and more I can picture myself as a student there.
I don't know whether other colleges offer this service, I suspect not as they're much bigger than St Benet's, but I found my visit invaluable so my advice would be: ask! Inquire as to whether you can have a tour, meet the students and generally have a nose- it'll settle your nerves. Also do not ever underestimate the power of a group chat. It's like meeting your year group without all the Fresher's Week nerves and awkwardness.