What is life at Oxbridge like? | UniAdmissions Guide

Everyone’s heard it before: life at Oxbridge is unlike any other university. To some degree, this is true! Here are my experiences of it.

Last Updated: 30th October 2018

Author: Violet Smart

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Everyone’s heard it before: life at Oxbridge is unlike any other university experience.

To some degree, this is true! The cities are indeed enchanted. You’ll fall in love with the cobbles and arches as a fresher before you’ve had a chance to walk through them! The entirety of Oxford’s city centre is populated by university buildings. Examination schools sit on the high street along with several colleges and the Botanic Garden.

Oxbridge libraries

Everywhere you go you are met by a little bit of history and excitement. One of the most incredible things about Oxford is the array of libraries. You can find one on every corner! Your Bodleian card allows you a ticket into these quiet and sequestered places that look out onto the hustle and bustle of the busy streets.

Early into my first year of life at Oxbridge, I discovered the Taylorian library which looks out onto the Ashmolean Museum courtyard. This was only the beginning. I went on to work in as many libraries as I could, from the Hebrew Studies Centre Library (which is underground) to the Oriental Institute Library in the modern Dickson Poon Building, based at St. Hugh’s College. In each, I found new inspiration and an independent atmosphere. 

Bodleian Library, Oxford University

When the reading hours got long and I felt tired, I cycled to a different library. The beauty of Oxford’s collegiate set-up means that everything is within a 10-minute cycle, which is incredible! This also means that you will rarely have to buy a book for yourself. There are always multiple copies dotted around the city that you can get hold of!

Take a look at our ‘How to choose an Oxbridge College’ guides for more information:

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Studying at Oxbridge

There’s no denying that an Oxbridge degree is hard when it comes to studying. Every subject will have its share of late nights and tight deadlines, and sometimes you’ll feel like the work is too much. But everyone at these universities got in for a reason! As long as you set yourself targets and try your best to stick to them, you’ll get through the toughest times. The humanities degrees are reading heavy and you’ll find you spend the majority of your days in the library with a pile of books.

When deciding which Oxbridge University is right for you, check each institution’s undergraduate prospectus and website for details of courses on offer. Moreover, courses with a similar title at the two universities may be different in content, so check the course details carefully to see which one will suit you best.

The surroundings are inspiring, and the opportunities for discussion and engagement are unparalleled. For most people, walking out of the library after a long day of reading to meet a friend for dinner is normal (and advised after an intense study session)!

A supervision taking place in Jesus College, Cambridge

Oxbridge Myths

The ‘Oxbridge experience’ is surrounded by myths that can attract and put off students from applying. Read our myth-busting article that debunks the common mysteries surrounding the two academic giants and why they are fact or fiction. Here are the myths we covered and whether they are true or false:

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Oxford and Cambridge have rich histories and unique structures that you should be aware of before applying to study there. So we’ve made a comprehensive handbook that answers the question “What is Oxbridge?” and teaches you everything you need to know before you start your course. Fill out the form below and gain instant access.

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Oxbridge Social Life

Even though Oxford is a small city, it has unending events across the year, from free talks at the University Church to Zumba discos at the Old Fire Station. If that’s not your thing, there are college movie nights, welfare walks and so much more. There’s something for everyone at Oxford and Cambridge. 

People will always be willing to go with you to the latest exhibition (or take yourself along!). Citywide events such as the Oxford Half Marathon, which happens every year at the end of freshers’ week, makes it easy to find people with mutual interests. There are hundreds of societies at Oxford and Cambridge including boxing and Quidditch (yes there is a Quidditch society!).

Murray Edwards College - Accommodation at Buckingham Court
clare college bumps rowing

Oxford City is bigger than Cambridge and is generally considered to be a bit livelier but Cambridge is seen as the prettier city. Let’s be honest though: both are gorgeous places to be and both have a selection of great places to hang out. If you like pubs, The Eagle in Cambridge is famous for being where Watson and Crick came up with their theory for the structure of DNA, and the Lamb and Flag in Oxford was frequented by C.S Lewis, who wrote the Chronicles of Narnia.

Feel like a world-class education and life at Oxbridge will work for you?

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