So, you’re nearly there – you got through the gruelling admissions process, received that coveted acceptance letter, and now you’ve been able to celebrate getting the grades you needed to meet your offer. The hard part is over, but now you’re probably filled with new anxieties about what Freshers' Week will be like. Here are a few ‘dos and don’ts’ to help prepare you for what is sure to be an exciting (and nerve-wracking) first week at Oxford…
Keep an open mind about everyone and try not to form judgements or opinions about people. It’s easy to only go and talk to people who seem similar to you or like people you were friends with at school, but university has so many different types of people from all over the world, and chances are someone who you wouldn’t usually talk to could be a long-lasting friend.
Reach out to others when you’re feeling anxious/homesick/nervous. There will be dedicated students from older years (usually known as Fresher Reps or ‘freps’ for short) who are there to show you the ropes. It’s inevitable that you’ll have some sort of negative emotion in Freshers' Week, as exciting as it is. I was overwhelmed for the first few weeks at Oxford (and still am sometimes), but having people to speak to who have been in the same position as you is really useful. Talking to other people in your year about how you’re feeling over a cup of tea is a great way to bond and realise everyone is in exactly the same boat no matter what background they’re come from!
Go out at least once! Even if clubbing and/or drinking isn’t your thing or you’ve never done it before, Freshers' Week tends to live up to its reputation and most people do go out a lot, so it’s a good opportunity to bond more with people and share experiences (and get a feel for the Oxford night life!). Going out in Freshers' doesn’t mean you’ll have to go out all the time for the rest of term either, but if you really don’t feel up to it, going to pre-drinks (even with something non-alcoholic) is an equally great way to meet new people.
Look after your health! Freshers’ flu is notoriously the worst, and I had it for weeks after term started. So make sure you take your multivitamins, eat your greens and get plenty of sleep (i.e. don’t go out every night if you can help it. More nights out = more interactions and tiredness = more germs to catch).
Don't buy tickets for club nights advertised on Facebook before you arrive. The Fresher Reps for your college will have organised nights out for you and will have wristbands you can buy directly from them. Not only are you likely to save money, but if you buy from Fresher Reps you’ll go out on the same night as people in your college, which will be a great way to make friends.
Don't worry if you don’t settle in right away. It takes everyone time to settle into university, especially Oxford with all its quirks and charms. You’ll likely feel homesick or just not quite like you belong to begin with, but just remember you’re definitely not alone!
Don't stay in your room the entire time, even if clubbing sounds like the worst thing in the world to you, or you’re extremely shy. It may be tempting to stay in your room curled up in bed watching Netflix or Facetiming family/friends from back home, but Freshers' really is the best time to put yourself out there and push beyond your comfort zone. There will be a whole host of events throughout the week organised for you, some compulsory and some not – I’d encourage you to attend as many as possible before that Freshers' window passes where it’s completely acceptable to randomly introduce yourself to a stranger.
Don't panic if you haven’t found your BFF within the first week. There are a lot of expectations to make life-long friends at university, so if you don’t find yourself instantly connected with the first people you meet, it’s easy to feel disheartened. Whilst you will probably stay friends with a lot of the people you meet in Freshers', there’s so much time to do different activities and make friends naturally along the way – chances are you will meet people you click with after a while.