I remember results day so clearly; getting up at 5:30 am (after a very broken night of sleep), anxiously pacing around the house just waiting for the clock to turn to 6 so I could access my results. I hadn’t thought about much else for the preceding month - Oxford had been my dream for so long and I couldn’t wait to find out if everything would come crashing down, or if my dream would become a reality.
Spoiler alert; I really needn’t have worried, and after waking up my neighbour (I live a detached house!) because I screamed with joy at my A*A*A* so loudly, nearly two months later, I found myself at Oxford.
They say fresher’s week is a whirlwind, and nothing could be more accurate; my memory is one of happiness and fun (bops are the greatest nights ever and I will not hear any arguments on this), delight at finding the people at my college were really, really nice, and that my tutors are actually the sweetest people ever.
Yet, despite all this, I don’t think I was adequately prepared for the shock to the system that Oxford, and uni in general would be. You’re doing three major things in your life all at once - leaving your family & living on your own, having to make new friends, and being expected to produce a standard of work quite different from anything you’re used to at A level. Instead of being taught the material for half a term and then being given an essay, you’re given an essay first and some chapters of books to read, then you might get a lecture…andddd thats all the help you get! I’ll be honest, it was a shock at first, but I’m slowly getting used to it, and it is a much better use of time! I don’t know how many times I’ve sat in lessons in 6th form thinking ‘I literally could have spent 10 minutes reading what you’ve just spent the last 40 teaching…’.
In short, Oxford is different to what I expected. There are fewer contact hours than I imagined, and you are on your own a lot more. And it’s tough to adapt, perhaps more so than I prepared for.
But from speaking to my friends, so many people feel this way, and it’s so important to know you’re not alone. On reflection I’m forced to realise that this is a better way of learning, and, now I’m getting used to it, I’m beginning to enjoy it; enjoy the thrill of being able to understand academic books, and avoid the tedium of topics being hammered to death the way they were at A level.
I do think though, that if you are finding it tough to adapt, it’s so important to not beat yourself up about it, and realise that we will get used to it eventually :)
Overall though, my first two week at Oxford have been good, and I couldn’t be more grateful I’m here.