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Before you arrive at Christ Church

Written by Eleanor Sanger, posted on Friday, September 29, 2017

Starting university gives you lots of things to be excited about. You'll be living independently for the first time, in a new place, meeting loads of new people and enjoying some exciting new experiences. But all of these things can feel quite daunting, especially if Oxford is a very different place to what you’re used to, and when you add in potential worries about the academic side of things, starting at Oxford, as with all unis, can make you as nervous as it does excited. So this post will hopefully give you a bit more of an insight into what to expect when you get here, so that you can put some of your worries aside and really make the most of what Oxford and Christ Church have to offer.

Students on New Walk1. Arriving at Christ Church

When you first arrive in Oxford and come to Christ Church, you’ll be met by one of our friendly students, who’ll take you to your accommodation. You’ll have plenty of time to get settled in and unpack before you have to do any formal socialising, but this is also a good time to get to know the people you’ll be living with for the next year. Your student helper will be there to answer any immediate questions, so don’t worry if you have a problem or a query you need sorting!

It always helps to make your room feel homely as soon as possible – so bring photos, knick-knacks, and anything else that reminds you of home so that your room soon starts to feel like yours. This is your chance to make your space your own and put your stamp on it – so come prepared!

Once you’ve got settled in, there’ll be plenty of events in freshers’ week for you to get to know the people doing your course, the rest of your year, and other people in college, from students to tutors and other staff. You’ll eat in Hall, find out where everything is, and meet the people who’ll be your friends, advisors and teachers for the next 3 or 4 years.

There’s no pressure at all to do all of the activities on offer (although some will be compulsory), but this is a really great time to get to know people. And don’t worry – you’re all in the same boat, and underneath it all everyone will be just as nervous as you. But at the end of the day the main thing is getting to know people in college – chances are you’ll end up making lasting friendships!

2. Finding your way around

Although it’s on the small side, Oxford is still a busy and bustling city, which can be a bit of a shock if you’re used to something smaller. The fact that the university isn’t built around a campus can also be confusing, as in some cases you’ll have to trek across the city centre to get to departmental meetings or library tours planned for your first week. But never fear – there are plenty of helpful people around to direct you, and you might even be provided with instructions and maps in case you get lost. The University has also produced this handy searchable map, which you can use to find University buildings across the city. It won't take long for you to work out where everything is, so in no time at all you'll be heading off to lectures like a boss and wondering why you ever used to get confused between the Broad and the High.

Working in the Library3. Academic work

If you’re anything like me, this might be one of the things you’re most worried about before coming up to Oxford. You’ve probably already been sent reading, or been asked to pick papers to study in your first year, and it may seem like as soon as you start you’ll be buried under a mountain of work that you won’t be able to shift until you emerge blinking into the daylight to graduate several years later.

Luckily, it isn’t actually that bad. But you can expect to be given your first pieces of work to do during freshers’ week. At only 8 weeks long, Oxford terms are so short that you need to get going straight away so that you can fit everything in. It may seem annoying getting work to do as soon as you get here, while you’re still enjoying socialising and getting to know people, but it’s best to just get started and get it done, because getting behind with work is something you really don’t want to do.

For arts students, you might be set a translation or commentary, or even your first essay, and scientists are likely to get their first problem sheet, all of which are to completed for classes or tutorials in first week. It’s also a good opportunity for a group bonding session with the other people who are doing your course – nothing brings you all together quite as much as none of you having any idea what a word in your translation even means…


This is only a brief summary (well I say brief, I was an arts student so I just can’t help myself from writing essays) of what to expect when you first get here. You may have ups and downs, but you’ve got so much to look forward to - having a great time making new friends and enjoying all of the various experiences that Oxford has to offer!

Check out the links on the right to find out more about undergraduate admissions and life in Oxford – and feel free to get in touch if you have any other questions!