First thing’s first – congratulations! If you’re reading this you got into Oxford and will very soon find yourself beginning a new chapter of your life here in Queen’s. Queen’s is a truly fantastic college, not only as a space to work and live in, but fundamentally as a close-knit community of like-minded individuals. It consists of not only of you as students, but also postgraduates, your tutors, the college staff and the many people who have come to call Queen’s home over the years. These relationships that you will foster, both with fellow students but also the broader college community, is the bedrock of college life and will provide invaluable support, not only in your first few weeks as a Fresher, but throughout your whole time here at Queen’s and beyond.
You’ve probably received this along with a lot of other information, including various forms, letters, and a few lengthy official looking contracts and documents. Take some time to look over them and try to get them in as soon as possible (unlike me who missed every single deadline as a fresher!). If you have any questions, do get in contact with the College Office or your college ‘parents’ – yes it’s one of those strange Oxford terms – they’re a pair or more of second years, one of whom should do your subject and they would no doubt be keen to help out in anyway they can both before and after you arrive. Your first week here can be intense and hectic and leave you feeling rather overloaded – whether that be from the volume of information thrown at you, homesickness, the expectation to navigate both literally and figuratively what can sometimes be a large and obtuse university, or for some, the expectation of constant socialisation. Not all events are mandatory and the ones that are so are clearly stated on the timetable. However, I would encourage you to use this opportunity to put yourself out there; Fresher’s week definitely doesn’t define who you’ll be friends with in your first few weeks here – let alone for the rest of your degree – but it does provide a unique opportunity to make a new start and meet a large spectrum of different and interesting people before the weight of work sets in.
The Oxford term can be stressful, with at times fairly demanding workloads, which can be made worse by the brevity of the eight week term. Your Moral and Academic Tutors, who you’ll meet in fresher’s, are here to support you throughout the year. They are likely the people who admitted you to Queen’s and believe that you are more than capable of managing it. You may feel that you’re not smart enough to be here or that you’re not the ‘type’ that goes to Oxford, and whilst it may be a University that at times feels full of bizarre traditions and imposing old buildings, beneath all of this, fundamentally it is just a normal university full of normal people from a diverse range of backgrounds. It is here where both the University and College is at its best.
This is of course not to say that people at Oxford don’t do anything apart from work! Both the College and University at large offers an impressive range of extracurriculars to get involved in, whether that be music, drama, sports or hundreds of other student societies, which you’ll find out more about at both the College and the University Fresher’s fair. Go with an open mind, try out a sport you maybe hadn’t considered (I never thought I’d end
up coxing as a fresher, but here we are!), attend a speaker or debating event, or attend one of the many society social events held every week.
It goes without saying that the ongoing pandemic has disrupted a lot of how you likely envisioned the past year would be like and the many rites of passage that usually mark the end of high school. At the time of writing this, restrictions have just been lifted in the UK and whilst there is still a large degree of uncertainty about what exactly the situation will be like come fresher’s week in autumn, I do hope that we’ll be able to run something normal, or close to it. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy your summer and that it will be slightly less stressful than the year past, and on behalf of myself and the rest of the JCR Committee, I look forward to seeing you in October.
P.S. Do feel free to add me on Facebook (under James McGhee), or contact me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions. Also, do make sure you join the JCR Facebook group (here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/queensjcr2021, or search for The Queen’s College JCR 2021-2022) – most important information will go either through here or email, I’d recommend enabling notifications for all posts so you don’t miss anything!