top of page

Coping with Intense Terms

By Goya Verity

Among some of the things Oxford University is known for, intense term times is one of them, and new students come to realise this very quickly. Oxford University operates on an 8-week basis for its semesters meaning that all the main teaching, tutorials, and college fun is whittled down into intense short bursts. As a new student in Oxford, this was the biggest cultural shock I encountered: balancing work life with socials, whilst also getting enough personal time and sleep is the trick that all of us are trying to master.

One longer night at a Formal Hall could feel like it’ll throw you off for the rest of the week… Everyone talks about “5th week blues”; an institutional phenomenon defined by Oxford students as the mid-term week which is the lethargic burnout or unhappiness conventionally experienced by Oxford students. To top it all off, you’ll probably be nursing a flu or a cold at the same time as trying to lift your spirits. In my experience, 5th week blues lasted until the middle of the 6th week.

Here are a few things I recommend to try to combat these lurky emotions hidden behind Oxford’s glorified overworking:

  • Sleep, sleep, sleep: when your brain feels as congested as your nose, a routinely good sleep will be your secret weapon against the 5th week blues and beyond.

  • Hot drinks and cough syrup: chances are your body will be a battlefield between the physical and mental; regular hot drinks and medication (where appropriate) will guarantee a slow cure.

  • Downtime: dedicate some time out to simply exist – whether that be watching the latest Downton Abbey film, reading that novel you never got round to finishing, painting your nails, or watching some trash TV, let yourself completely disconnect and give yourself some space to ‘mong out’. It is so needed after all the hard work you’re putting into your tutorials.

  • Walking: on a similar note, walking in and around one of Oxford’s many parks and green spaces is a tried and tested way of clearing your head while also having some gentle exercise without overworking yourself.

  • Friends: You might be feeling introverted during 5th week blues, but don’t forget to have some social time to put a bounce in your stride. Reach out to a course mate or a closer friend to hang out – after all, humans are sociable animals!

The intense term times is something that makes Oxford so unique. It requires full commitment and enthusiasm in everything that you do to enjoy it and get the most out of being a student here. However, when you’re studying at the best university in the world, the workload and life can sometimes just get too much, and that’s ok! We’re all in the same boat and spring couldn’t come sooner…


bottom of page