Image Description: Statue facing upwards at Bodleian Libraries
Put quite simply, Freshers’ Week 2020 for me was… intense. So much more intense than what I was expecting. And not just academically. Having been in lockdown since March and not having any work for the past 7 months (on top of the A-Level results day fiasco), the prospect of moving into the hallowed halls of the university that, up until now, only existed on my phone – through Discord and WhatsApp chats, Instagram freshers pages, Sunday night Zoom calls and YouTube videos that have been binge-watched far too many times now – was far more daunting than I could have imagined. And the rain didn’t help either. However, more than a week later, I am amazed at what I have learned about myself, and what I have learned about living independently.
Moving into my college was somewhat of a surreal experience.
For example, all of the Oxford buildings looked so much bigger than during interviews. The cameras really don’t do the Rad Cam justice; it is massive. I was the first person to move in, so as each new person arrived, it was like I was being introduced to a completely different walk of life to my own. Obviously, there were times when I felt very, very overwhelmed. Having lived with my mum and my younger brother for the past 18 years of my life, I had never before been made to spend so much time with other people the same age as me. Hearing some of their conversations sometimes made me feel like there had been things I missed out on in my own childhood. However, as time has passed, I honestly can’t believe my luck at how genuinely nice and friendly everyone in my bubble is. I told my roommates how I was feeling, and they listened and supported me right away. Of course, we did have a lot of fun too: Westgate shopping trips, walking from the city centre all the way through Cowley, buying our subfusc, making bop costumes, and impromptu household karaoke! As well as the simpler things like just chilling in someone’s room and having a chat, or playing Irish snap.
One thing that I am slightly upset about in relation to Freshers’ Week is the fact that I’ve not really been able to speak to people outside of my college. It’s never really been anything more than just a quick ‘hi’ while walking down Cornmarket Street, for example. I think that my college JCR has really done a lot to make sure we all have a good time and enjoy settling in, although part of me does wish we still had formal dinners and in-person matriculation and the whole ‘Oxford’ experience.
That being said, it’s still very much possible to have fun and social distance at the same time.
A tip I would give is that societies are also doing as much as possible to enrich your experience at university. As well as that, if you can find a good working schedule, I find taking a walk around Oxford in itself is such an amazing experience. I literally can’t describe how much I cannot believe my luck whenever I simply take a walk around Oxford’s historic buildings, realising that I too am now a part of its history.
Image Credit: Leeann Coller via Pixy.org