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MuChCh love to Christ Church…

By Josita Kavitha Thirumalai

Christ Church has many names from 'The House' or the weirdly truncated ChCh but, most importantly, it is considered home for many students, including myself. You might have glimpsed a picture of Tom Quad (pictured here) and recognised it as quintessentially Oxford with its yellow brick toffee-nosed Hogwarts-esque architecture.

This article will cover how beautifully alluring Christ Church is to experience via its buildings and grand spaces, but it will also cover how joyful it is to roam around these spaces and make memories here with friends. It is the people in these photos that make Christ Church what it is when you’re a student. That fountain you see is no longer just a fountain with a statue of Mercury plodded in the middle to me. It’s the place that I feed the ducks that bathe in it during the summer and where I like taking the school tour groups around; hoping to God that none of the Year 9’s trip over into it.

Christ Church’s enormity and it’s larger than life quads fade from being simply imposing as you start to fill that space with a bundle of memories and experiences that bring warmth to what may seem like a cold austere castle like place. You might even be blessed enough to spot the Christ Church cats, Alice and Meadow, wandering around having many adventures of their own.

One of my favourite things about Christ Church is that the front is at the heart of the city centre near to Westgate shopping centre whilst the back opens out into the meadows filled with cows, runaway deer, and geese that will pick a fight with you if you get too close to the river. You can flit back and forth as you like to escape into mini-London or into the acres of green. It’s weird living in a museum relic like place as there are tourists around every day 9am-5pm. However, there are Porters who monitor the flow of visitors coming in and out as they are restricted to certain areas like the Cathedral and Hall - mainly away from student accommodation.

At first, it is a bit jarring to have a swathe of people taking lots of selfies as you’re trying to dodge them as you sprint to class on the other side of the college but, again, it’s just one of those things that you get accustomed to. One of the good things about having tourists around is that they serve as a good reminder to not get too accustomed to certain things like the Great Hall as it can easily become a given that we take for granted when we have dinner in there every night. Walking past the little kids with their tourist audio guide learning about the Peele door in their Hogwarts robes does inject a bit of magic back into the place for me.

Christ Church does have a mixed bag of stereotypes. This will not be an honest article if I didn’t address the poor reputation of Oxford’s (currently) richest college. It is stereotypically seen as the college with an infestation of privately educated students, serving as a breeding ground for the Etonians. Whilst there are a few characters dotted around as there are with any college, stereotypes are an extrapolation of the truth. Yes, Christ Church does have a portion of private school students, but it also has a largely diverse cohort both ethnically speaking and regarding class. From the 2023 UCAS cycle, of the accepted offers, 15.2% were international students and, of the UK accepts, 70% were state educated and 32.7% of students were from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic Groups.

I wanted to go to a bigger college as I like meeting different kinds of people, which a larger cohort enables you to do. There is a range of people, and you can pick and choose who you’d like to spend your time with over the course of your degree than be limited to a smaller cohort that has, in my words, “village vibes”. The general attitude and approach of Oxford colleges is to challenge and discipline any behaviour that is discriminatory and goes against the community values of inclusivity, so instances of classism and racism are dealt with seriously. We’re the only college with a cathedral but that doesn’t mean that the college is not a space for other religions and faiths to coexist within the college with the multi-faith prayer room and ethnic, religious minority JCR representatives we have.

Compared to other colleges, I feel like the distinction between Christ Church as an institution and as the student body is more pronounced with aspects like tourism thrown into the mix, but we have the JCR committee (undergraduate student council) to help liaison between the student body to the senior governing body about any student concerns, e.g. accommodation costs.  At times, the reputation of the institution and the student body are conflated, and this coagulation becomes difficult to separate when you perceive Christ Church from the outside.

As a pretty wealthy college, Christ Church does offer some great bursaries, funding, and financial support that you can look into by tapping this link. Depending on household income, some students benefit from a reduction of 50% or 25% on accommodation costs and on the ‘season ticket’ for college dinners. You can also have funding for travel, language classes, or books that would be useful for your degree to assist you in your academic pursuits. Christ Church is progressing forwards with incremental changes. It is certainly not a perfect college, but it has the potential to offer you a place you can consider home for the duration of your degree.

I wanted this article to go beyond just statistics and facts about the college but about the experience of being in it. To hint at what it might be like to wake up to Tom Tower’s bell ringing at 8am in the morning or walk back to your room when the library closes at 1am within the witching hours. You might be planning a trip to Oxford to visit the different colleges when the weather gets better so, without sounding incredibly biased (which I am), definitely give Christ Church a visit.

Whichever college you are going to visit, try and get a feel for the place and try and envision yourself living here, changing as a person here, as well as being a student studying here. I didn’t visit Oxford until I had to move in, partly due to Covid-19, so I experienced Christ Church through many of the studytubers who vlog and digitise that “feel” of the college that you can find on YouTube if you can’t travel to Oxford. Irrespective of which college you end up at, you will be somewhat defensive of it… case in point.

Here you can find the quiz that many prospective students use when applying to help us compare Oxford colleges: 


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