Oxford Fresher's Week

View from St Edmund's Hall 'over the wall'

So just a head's up before I get started, Oxford Fresher's Week is not your typical freshers week; a whole week of drinking, going out and getting to know your flat and having a dabble at some extra curricular things before any work, lectures etc really gets going. That was not my Oxford experience.

A few of the Freshers during a Diwali
 firework cerebration 

First of all, please, always pack the day or two before, I left mine so last minute the stress was ridiculous (but more on that soon)! So I arrived at my accommodation which is actually a house for all 26 people in my year plus a few grad students and some tutors. It's approximately a 10 minute walk from my actual college buildings which isn't too bad and the setting is really quite lovely. Upon arrival there was a tea reception and the opportunity to move your things in with the help of some 2nd and 3rd years which was nice but a little overwhelming. After some quick goodbyes to parents we were promptly swept away for introductory talks about living in hall, rules, and some who's who. Then we were essentially left to ourselves until dinner which was a little scary and uncomfortable; no one knew each other and conversation was quite stilted. After dinner we all went on a pub crawl which was actually really awkward because  we were still trying to get to know each other and most of the evening was spent introducing yourself to people and trying to remember everyone's names which was easier said than done!
View from inside the
Radcliffe Camera... shh photos
strictly forbidden!

The next few days followed a similar vein but what was really useful was that the college had a timetable of events so there was always something to do and you knew what was happening at what times. There were nights out in clubs; Fever, Bridge etc, movie nights, games nights and pub crawls in the evening and then lots of workshops in the day; BAME, LGBTQ+ etc. As well as admin tasks like getting sub fusc and attending the extra-curricular fair. The days were really packed and by the end of the first week I was absolutely exhausted but I'd got to know everyone quite well so meal time were starting to get less uncomfortable and the whole college (which is very small) was really welcoming.

Generally I enjoyed many of the activities which helped me get to know everyone as well as the college and other years but something which was a little bit of a shock to the system was the workload. In amongst all these activities the other historians and myself had a couple of introductory tutorials where we were set reading and our first essay. I found that this really put a dampener on the Fresher's Week experience because in between compulsory workshops and social events I had the growing stress of figuring out how to use the libraries, reading the new material and writing my first university level essay. 

Each Oxford college Fresher's Week is slightly different and this is what I experienced at St Benet's Hall. Overall i would say I enjoyed it but I, like everyone else, was exhausted by the end and I felt like I needed a week to recover! For those going to Oxford it's important to remember that Oxford terms are shorter than other universities and so the workload can start immediately but as long as you plan, you can fit in the socialising as well as the essay or whatever it might be. The important thing is to be open and friendly and be as receptive to the new opportunities as possible!


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