Freshers’ Week | Holly Goes Abroad

Freshers’ Week: that infamous transition period after everyone is on campus but term hasn’t yet officially begun. I had heard many things about it before coming here but I wasn’t sure which rumors had merit and which were false. Did people actually just go out and get drunk every night? (Yes.) Was that all there was to do? (No.) Would I still have course work to do? (Absolutely.) Does freshers’ flu exist? (YES.)

Freshers’ Week is essentially seven days of orientation for first year students during which they learn how to be students both academically and socially. I’m not going to lie: it was a strange, strange week. I’m a third year college student back in the States, which means that I’ve already been through the standard discussions about racial diversity, asking consent, and fire safety. Everyone in the room felt so young and it felt weird to be constantly asked if I was a freshman as well. The students in my particular program are in a unique position: we know how to be students, just not how to be students atΒ Oxford.Β There’s a fine line there that’s hard to describe, but it’s definitely there.Β 

Even stranger than this phantom fresher feeling was the fact that the college itself sanctioned events relating to and centering around alcohol. Back home that would be illegal because the drinking age is 21, but here it is obviously not a problem because the drinking age is 18. The college led pub crawls, organized club nights, and had a fully stocked bar at our bop. Perhaps this has just been my experience, but here it feels like there’s less pressure to drink to get drunk; instead, people drink to have a good time or to be social at relaxed pubs.

Speaking of bops, they’re basically my new favorite thing. A bop is a party that a college will host, usually in their Junior Common Room. Each one has a different theme that dictates what kind of costume you decide to where. The goal is make the best costume by spending the least amount of money on it, so you can imagine the chaos and fun that ensues. Our theme was to dress up as something that starts with the first letter of your first name. Naturally, I dressed up as Hermione. The bop was a great event to end Freshers’ Week with, especially because the name-centric theme helped me learn more people’s’ names!

Last but not least, we come to the dreadful part of Freshers’ Week: what is fondly called the freshers’ flu. Lectures this week were a sea of sick, coughing students all chugging water and as much Vitamin C as they possibly could. The lack of sleep coupled with mountains of course work certainly doesn’t help– but we push through!

Whether or not you’ve experienced a Freshers’ Week of your own, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little jaunt into mine! It’s certainly a week I won’t forget.

Click here to check out other posts in my Holly Goes Abroad series!

Have you ever experienced a Freshers’ Week? Been to a bop? What would you have dressed up as according to my bop’s theme? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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12 thoughts on “Freshers’ Week | Holly Goes Abroad

  1. When I studied abroad (Sussex Uni in Brighton), my fresher’s flu lasted a month, ugh! Luckily I avoided it this year (came back to study my Master’s). I loved Freshers Week, most of the friendships I made then lasted the whole year or longer!

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  2. Well, this sounds like an… experience. I don’t really know what to expect re: orientation in a NZ university but I guess I’ll find out. I’ve heard lots about freshers week from my friends at UK universities… actually my cousin is a fresher at Oxford right now, but thanks for sharing your experience too! I love your costume. bops sound incredible

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  3. Sounds like fun, Holly! I’ve never experienced anything like that, but I also found it funny that the German universities sponsored events with alcohol for the students. It’s so different than we’re used to! I think there was still a lot of pressure to get drunk there, though. I love your costume, and I’m glad you’re having a good time. πŸ™‚

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  4. Awesome post, Holly! Sounds like you’re having fun πŸ™‚
    I’ve started college recently, and we’ve been talking about Fresher’s Week all over the world in my English class. It was nice to hear how you’re doing!
    Here, our Fresher’s Week actually lasts the entire year haha It’s called “praxe”. We have activities every day during the first two weeks, and then it becomes twice a week. What we do depends on the school. It has been cool so far, but sometimes the people organizing it (older students) really push it. :/

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  5. Oh, yeah. I think I’d also find it weird to attend an orientation as a third year! I’d feel so over that. :p

    My college in the US basically told students to drink during orientation.,,and it’s obviously not legal. They ascribe to the theory that “you’re going to drink anyway, so we want you to do it safely” and try to have a policy that you can have all the beer and wine you want but no hard alcohol. Personally, I don’t think it’s working and think it’s more of a policy so the college can excuse the fact they don’t try to stop underage drinking in any way because they just don’t want to bother. But it was an interesting orientation session…

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  6. I never got a chance to study abroad. The closest I got was a spring break trip for one of my classes where we went to France and Italy. But when I first started college there were orientation weekends where the freshmen would go and spend the weekend there, get to know campus, take tests in math and foreign languages to determine if you tested out of certain requirements or not, etc. But it does not sound anywhere near as fun or intense as fresher’s week.

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  7. I loved freshers so much that I went every year I was at uni! It sounds like you had a great time. I went out for my friends birthday a couple of weeks ago and ended up at a student night – and ended up getting freshers flu! I thought I’d be immune by now hahaha!

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