Being Northern in Oxford


When people ask me ‘Where are you from?’ I tend to reply ‘Yer can see Scotland from me house’ in the thick Northern accent that prompted the question. Northern is rare down south - and especially in Oxford. More places are gained from China than from the North East. Students from London and the South East are three times as represented in Oxbridge as a whole, even though the populations are pretty much equal. “Geography is a better predictor than social class or income", says Professor Danny Dorling of the University of Sheffield and an expert on the north-south divide. "You're more likely to be able to tell a pathway from a postcode”. The reasons or excuses for this are plentiful but I believe with hard work there's more than a fighting chance of getting an offer - but what is it like being Northern in Oxford?

To me it sounded laughable at first to consider that being from the North or Scotland could have an effect on my life in Oxford, but in fact it has defined some of my fondest memories. Meeting new people always takes one of two distinct paths, upon speaking more than three syllables and my Northern-ness appearing the person will either excitedly ask or guess where I am from, or embrace me with the sweetest words I hear nowadays: “it's alright - I'm northern too”. Even our Scottish cousins whom we normally stride to be as different from as possible become an instant friend in this world of new strange accents. Freshers meetings seem to be an endless ritual of stating your name and degree as if the person might somehow remember them, but being Northern somehow sparks a conversation. Within my friendship group, my niche Cumbrian slang terms were adored, the worst fear of losing my accent became the opposite, I converted others to Northern.

However, my Northern friends, the joys of being Northern when in Oxford are not all positive. Oxford doesn't posses a Greggs in an acceptable proximity to the colleges. This means that one must embark upon a pilgrimage to Cowley for a sausage roll, which is too expensive to be viable on the bus and a walk or bike ride just uses up the calories that the Greggs provides.

The only way we can get more Northerners here is if you apply!

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