TOP 10 TIPS
1. OUTFIT - There are many “Oxfordisms” you will need to learn. One important one is 'Sub Fusc' the academic dress to be worn at matriculation and exams. Avoid shiny embellishments (buckles WILL be cut off your shoes), and all genders can choose skirts/ribbons over the trousers/bowties. More information about these terms can be found here.
2. PARTIES - ‘Bops’ are Oxford parties held in college bars! They are a mixture of a bar/club nights, usually themed! ‘Fancy Dress’ means it is a costume party (not a formal!) They may sound cheesy, but they are a ton of fun and a great way to see the other colleges. Oxford Ball season starts in the Spring, make sure to attend at least one. Tickets can range from £80-£300, so budget accordingly.
3. WEATHER - While Oxford might not get the freezing temperatures and snow that Canada does, winters are a cold kind of damp that seeps into your room and bones. Bring your winter coat, hat and gloves!
4. BANKING - Unlike Canadian debit cards, there are no fees to use your debit card at other machines in the UK. So you’re not limited to ATMs of just your branch. When setting up a new account – be sure to arrive at the bank with both your passport AND a student enrolment form which has been stamped and signed by someone in your college (usually the bursar).
5. FOOD - While many universities in Canada have cafeterias open continuously throughout the day, dining halls at Oxford colleges have extremely short hours and might not offer service everyday due to special events and functions. The meals are set and depending on the college, you may need to register for meals the day before. Formal Hall is a special meal put on by college, where you can bring guests to dine at your college – this is a fun way to organize exchanges and try the food at each college, so make sure you make friends outside your college!
6. CLUBS – Oxford offers a LOT of clubs/societies. You will have an opportunity to sign up during your College time slot at the Freshers Fair in 1st week. DO NOT MISS THIS, you only get one chance to walk through the clubs and it is a great event – obviously, the Canadian Students Society is the best and you should plan to attend our first annual event: a Thanksgiving Celebration, potluck style. It takes place every year in the evening of Canadian Thanksgiving.
7. BOOKS - Most courses at Oxford don’t require textbooks so there is no official University book store. You will have online access to everything you need, but check out Blackwell’s for everything else. As for the library system – it can be quite confusing at first, so make sure you spend a bit of time working with it and attend the orientation your department will provide.
8. COLLEGE – Your College will shape your Oxford experience significantly, so make sure you get involved and talk to your fellow JCR/MCR members, advisers, and tutors. It is a good idea to set up a few meetings with any academics who you may encounter while studying at the University, so they know who you are. If you are struggling, the College has support systems in place to help. Don’t be afraid to reach out!
9. TRANSPORTATION – Biking is the most efficient way to get around the city. It seems a bit intimidating at first, but you will get used to it easily and the cars in the city are used to driving with bicycles. Just be sure to wear a helmet, have lights (non-removable, they may get stolen if removable), and follow the traffic rules. There are helpful videos you can watch online if you are nervous about this. Buying a bike second-hand is always a good idea too, so look for one online when you arrive, or check out the Broken Spoke!
10. EXPLORE - As a student you have membership to the university at large. Make sure to visit some of the colleges and learn about the unique history of each. You may enter each college with at least one guest for free (varies by college, bring your student ID). Make sure to visit Christ Church for Sunday Brunch, or Exeter gardens for a great view of the Radcliffe Camera. Or better yet, take a walking tour and enjoy the fun stories (Canadian Society organises one each year!)