What Is Oxbridge Freshers Week Like?

Freshers' week is a key time for settling into university. To help you through the first few weeks at Oxbridge, Niamh, Oxford student representative (and former first year student), has put together a comprehensive guide to Oxbridge Freshers' Week. It includes what to expect, how to prepare and how to get the most out of the experience.

Author: Niamh Gould

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Freshers Week is a key time to get settled into university. Usually falling on the first week of October, Freshers can be intimidating, especially if you don’t know what to expect.

To help you through the first weeks of Oxbridge, Niamh, a current Oxford Fresher Rep (and previous Fresher), has composed an all-inclusive guide to Oxbridge Freshers Week. This includes what to expect, how to prepare and most importantly, how to get the most out of this experience.

Oxbridge Freshers Week Background

Oxbridge Freshers Week is an annual event for new first years. The week tends to be organised within individual colleges and so your experience will vary depending on which college you attend. There are assigned Fresher Reps in the year above (like me) who plan out a timetable for the week. Scheduled events include:

  • Workshops
  • Talks
  • Tours of the city/town
  • University-wide Freshers Fair
  • College Freshers Fair
  • Social events (both drinking and non-drinking events included)

At Oxford and Cambridge, many colleges delay the return of older students during this week to give Freshers time to settle into college life. The main purpose of Freshers Week is to provide an orientation and a guide to this brand-new experience. Expect a week full of workshops, talks and social events, all with the purpose of introducing you to university life as seamlessly as possible.

How to prepare for freshers week

Aside from preparing for the new adventure of living independently, it is important to prepare for Freshers Week itself, so you can get the most out of the experience. This week is a key time for getting involved in clubs or societies. Maybe you’re a keen musician, a seasoned athlete, or perhaps you want to try something completely new – well Freshers is the week to get involved. 

The 8-week terms pass so quickly that suddenly, it’s week 8 and you’re about to head home, so it’s important you make the most of your time. Our advice is to check out the list of university clubs and societies found on the Oxford or Cambridge website in advance.

Another crucial thing to remember is that Freshers Week is a busy time, so make sure that you bring all the essentials when you first arrive. There’s nothing worse than having to haul yourself to Tesco midway through the week as you are completely out of food or cycle to Argos to buy new pots and pans. 

Finally, Freshers Week can get expensive very quickly if you don’t keep an eye on your costs. This is a great time to set yourself a budget. Fortunately, there are many deals for students, keep on top of those and you’ll thank yourself for it later. We recommend reading the UCAS student budgeting tips to help you develop your own plan. 

What is unique about Oxbridge Fresher’s week?

The most unique part of Oxbridge Fresher’s week is the collegiate system. Colleges are like their own stand-alone communities, and you’ll find that most people you meet are from your college. This means that if you need any support, it is easily accessible. For Freshers Week, your college will have a whole team of Freshers Helpers as well as two designated Welfare Reps.

In Freshers Week, one tradition is getting to have dinner and meet your college ‘family’. Your college ‘parents’ are essentially students in the year above who are doing the same subject as you. They are basically your port of call if you have any questions about your subject or university life.

If you are interested in getting involved in any clubs or societies, then Freshers Fair is the time to find out everything you need to know. Firstly, there is a university-wide Freshers Fair. Many societies will have a stall where you can sign up to mailing lists and ask whatever you want. I would recommend not signing up for everything you see because you’ll have a full mailbox. Try and pick things you can really see yourself getting involved in. 

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There is also a College Freshers Fair. One great thing about the college system is that if you want to play sport, you don’t have to do it at the university level (which can involve a fair bit of time commitment), you can do it at the college level. Most colleges have their own teams for many popular sports. If there’s a sport you really want to play and there’s not already a team, you can start one!

Oxbridge Terminology

Oxbridge terminology can get quite confusing at first, especially during Freshers, so I have summarised some of the key terms below:

Top tips for surviving Freshers

Fresher’s week can be a source of worry for many students, so here are our top tips for surviving and thriving in the week:

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