Last week, on the TOG work experience placement, we visited Christ Church (my college!) to have a look around and a chat with their Access Officer, Stephanie, who used to go to St Peter’s. We even got to see the incredible library!
A: What’s your favourite thing about Christ Church?
S: I haven’t been here long (I started about six weeks ago), but the college has made a considerable impression on me! Everyone I’ve met is very friendly. I haven’t met any of the students formally yet, but I’ve had emails from some who want to take part in Access work whilst they’re here: everyone I’ve spoken to is very enthusiastic! The college is big, but very welcoming, with a very strong community spirit.
A: How many people are in a year here?
S: There are 135 in a year. That’s great size! It’s big enough that you can’t know absolutely everything about everyone, but you still know everyone.
A: How would you sum up Christ Church in one word?
A: What can new students starting in October expect from Freshers’ week at Christ Church?
S: Lots of activities – and lots of emails from me asking if you want to be involved in Access work! Freshers’ week is a great opportunity to meet new people. It’s also a chance to experience a new living environment – everything will be new to you, but that’s exciting! There’s also lots of food and drink (if you want it) and lots of free stuff – I still have a highlighter I was given by a taxi company when I was a Fresher!
A: You said you were an undergrad at St Peter’s. What was your experience of St Peter’s as a Fresher?
S: Busy, fun, scary, rewarding. I made a lot of friends. We had randomized rooms, which means you meet so many different people, from all different backgrounds and places around the world. You’ll learn a lot about yourself by meeting other’s – you’re really thrown into it! Don’t worry about struggling with work in the first term: it’s supposed to be challenging – if it wasn’t, your tutors would probably worry! Don’t be too wrapped up in being the best. You’ve probably been a big fish, but now you’ll be a medium sized fish in a big pond!
A: Obviously, Christ Church is a very large college – do your students get lost at the beginning?
S: Oh, probably! I haven’t been here long enough to see new students coming in, but I got lost at St Peter’s in the beginning! Christ Church has a really good Freshers Committee, to help out with this, and the Custodians are really helpful – there’s always people to ask for help. Getting lost is part of the excitement of Freshers, though, especially here – you randomly end up in really beautiful places looking at really beautiful things.
A: Finally, what’s the best thing about Christ Church for Freshers?
S: Probably the size of the year – you’ll meet loads of people but not so many that you never see them again. You won’t immediately meet your friendship group, either, which gives you the chance to talk to lots of other people, too. Everyone is so welcoming! We also have Christ Church meadow, where you can go if you ever need a break, or a return to something rural!
A: Any top tips for new students?
Be yourself. Oxford is actually a very open environment. People love meeting new people.
Be open to others’ differences, too – Oxford works because of this.
Ask questions for clarification – about things in halls, new terms used, systems…
Don’t feel like you have to do everything: Freshers’ is jam-packed so you have a choice. You can have a day off in your room to chill and reflect, if you need to.
Don’t be scared of your tutors. They are just people.
Your first essay will not be perfect, so don’t worry. It’s a jump from A Levels.
First year doesn’t count. This means you can try new things or new ways of working and fail and that’s fine.