You’ve opened your letter, or checked the internet, and the results are in. Congrats – you’re going to Oxford. A place made famous by its illustrious alumni, a lot of bloody tourists and monthly controversies in the national press.
Your parents are starting to flap about what you’re going to need. Bed linen? Coffee machine? Bike? Saucepans? Does everyone really wear glasses and chinos? Book lists will arrive soon. Do you actually need to read everything on this list? Will your tute partners have read it all? One thing is certain: you will need wine.
At VERSA, we’re going to leave the academics to the professionals. We’re not here to teach you the causes of the Norman Conquest or how to speak French. We don’t know about either. Who cares that you’re in one of the most prestigious universities in the world? We’re here to teach you the things that you really need to know.
Naïve fresher: over the course of your time here, you will learn many things. You’re going to learn that you actually can hack it in the city (if you’re from somewhere smaller than Oxford) or that the provinces aren’t that bad (if you’re from somewhere bigger).
You’re going to learn the value of £3 Tesco wine and the supermarket reduced aisle – oh, and that some people have no respect for labels in the fridge. You’re going to learn the names of a whole bunch of kebab vans, and that a club is only as good as its smoking area.
You’re going to learn the legends of Old Man Bridge and Babylove. You’re going to learn about 100 names in your first three hours and learn them all over again over the next term. Hopefully you’ll remember their name the morning after.
You’re going to learn that that people are incredibly diverse, intelligent, brilliant and supportive. You’re going to learn that snakes also lurk ahead and that people can be shits.
By the time you’ve umm-ed and ahh-ed your way through your first tute, the VERSA Fresher’s Guide will have given you the basics to surviving Oxford. The best cafés, pubs and clubs; Oxford’s idiosyncratic vocabulary; what the deal is with politics, student media, the Union and OUSU – as well as guides to work, welfare, sports and societies. But that won’t be all: keep an eye on what else we have up our wavey sleeves…
It may not seem like it when you’re struggling to answer in a tute, but time moves quickly in Oxford. Before you know it, you’ll be packing up at the end of Michaelmas, and in the blink of an eye you’ll be taking your Prelims or Mods. Don’t bother being prepared, you won’t be, we’re still not.
See you on the 4th of October for the best week of your life that you’ll barely remember. Welcome to Oxford.