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10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Starting Oxford

It's normal to feel nervous about starting uni! Here we have some top tips to hopefully help you feel less nervous...

1. Do not doubt yourself: This is quite a clichéd piece of advice, but it is true! You now have your offer confirmed because you’ve got the grades - so you deserve it! Everyone will be nervous, but do not start doubting whether you should be there. Enjoy it!

2. Freshers' Week. Something I did not fully realise was that Fresher’s Week would comprise of lots of events, as well as work being set for the beginning of the following week. The amount of work set, and how long you have to complete it, does vary by subject and college. I found it a little tricky to balance Freshers' Week activities and tackling my first essay, but it is manageable, if you plan your time carefully. Try not to start the work too late in the week, so that you are not rushing at the end to meet your deadline.

3. Mattress protector. On the first day when unpacking my bags, my college mum asked if I’d bought a mattress protector with me. I had not even thought of that! But it was really helpful to buy, especially as college provide the mattress.

4. More white tac. At Keble, we are allowed to decorate the noticeboards in our rooms, as well as putting posters and photos on the walls with white tac. This is great because it does not mark the walls. Just make sure you have enough because it is easy to get carried away putting photos up!

5. Do not worry about outfit choices. I was very worried when I was packing initially about what clothes to take, so that I fitted in. I even messaged my college mum asking what ‘Oxford students’ wear. She answered (and very rightly so) that there is no set ‘Oxford student outfit.’ Everyone wears whatever they fancy, and whether that is going to lectures in shorts, a dress or a suit jacket, no-one will look twice. Oxford is truly a place to be yourself!

6. Explore the different libraries. Many students feel nervous visiting new libraries, but definitely explore them. Having a Bod Card (which is a card that all Oxford students receive to give them access to buildings and colleges) allows you to utilise any libraries. Even if you cannot borrow books from them all, it is great to be able to choose from so many different workspaces. For example, the Oxford Foundry (@oxfordfoundry) is a fantastic workspace for students. It is very relaxed, and I love studying in there, as it makes a change from the stricter library environment.

7. Asking for help and making mistakes. Everyone will make mistakes when starting uni. It is a new environment, with new people, and everyone is finding their way. Do not be afraid to ask for help and advice, whether this is from your peers, college parents, or your tutors. Tutors are always happy to answer your questions, and it is good to make a note of any academic points you found challenging, so that you can ask about them in your next tutorial.

9. Making friends and getting involved. Not everyone meets their best friends on the first day of uni. It often takes time to form your friendship group. A great way of meeting people is to get involved in activities and clubs, especially university wide clubs, as this allows you to meet people with similar interests to you, outside of your college.

10. Packing the car. Trying to remember to everything to pack is a challenge. Making a list a few weeks before and adding to it whenever you think of something is definitely helpful, rather than leaving it until the last minute. However, Oxford has lots of shops and you can get parcels delivered to your college, so do not worry if you forget something. The Oxford Union often run a poster and plant sale at the beginning of the year, so you can buy those when you arrive.

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