If you didn’t even go here, you’d be forgiven for thinking that living in a 500-year-old building with a castle turret and a bell tower is positively palatial. After all, compared to the halls of redbricks and ex-polys up and down the country, residing in the ivory tower that is your average Oxford college might seem like dwelling in the lap of luxury. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as that. Here, VERSA tells you how to make the most of the experience.

Prepare to get in shape when climbing the stairs…

For some reason, colleges LOVE putting undergraduate rooms as high up as possible. Maybe they think we’re all obese – or they’re just tired of hearing our bangin’ tunes blasting out over the quad during every pre-bop lash sesh. Either way, you’ve earned your weekly carby treat (or seven) from Hassan’s by the time you’ve got to the top of four flights of rickety stairs that look like they’d go up in smoke if you so much as glanced at a box of matches.

…then put all the weight back on in Hall three times a day

A full English when you wake up, college lunch after an intense morning of lectures/sleep, and dinner served to the table at night: who could resist? When you don’t have to cycle for 15 minutes in the pouring rain to access such luxuries, it’s impossible to see how anyone could resist indulging in them. Take full advantage of this: unless you’re an aristocrat and will have a fleet of servants for the rest of your life, it’s unlikely you’ll have this kind of privilege again.

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Welcome to your new home

Accept that you’ll become a hermit and rarely see the outside world

It doesn’t take much to make an Oxford student happy. When you’ve got a huge library, a Hall with people to cook you three meals a day, and a very cheap bar in the vicinity of your room, you’ve not really got much more to ask for. It is not unheard of for college dwellers – especially finalists – to leave college approximately once a week, usually to either go for a cheeky guilt-ridden Park End or to Tesco to stock up on grim ready meals and tissues for their tears of stress. Just roll with it: get your daily dose of fresh air in the quad, and you’ll be fine.

The scout will walk in on you while you’re having sex

With this one, it’s easier to accept it’s going to happen than to try bothering to prevent it. You could attempt not to have any sexual encounters between the hours of 9am and 12pm, but there’s no accounting for when student horniness strikes. Instead, it’s better just to make sure the duvet stays on top of you at all times, and that you have a few practice runs at pulling it over you within five seconds of the dreaded knock on the door. Just don’t become that person, i.e. the one who ends up getting caught in flagrante three or four times a week. Trust us: unless you’re a beautiful Adonis of a lover, nobody wants to see that.

The peripheral, edgy Oxford neighbourhoods are out of your reach 

It’s great to get a cup of obscure tea at the Truck Store up Cowley Road, or sip on overpriced cocktails in Freud’s, but it’s even better to be in the middle of the city where you can save money and go to the JCR coffee machine instead. Also, you can embrace your inner Primark, and stop pretending you’re so alternative that you buy all your “reclaimed” clothes at second-hand shops like someone out of The Tab’s endless fashion columns. You’ll save so much money.

Photo: Steve Cadman

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