Finally, after weeks of anticipation, we're finally here! We arrived a few days into 0th week, or the week before tutorials and lectures begin, and were met by the always-friendly students and staff of our college, St. Catherine's. Known for being a great college for visiting students, we have been assimilated into the student culture at Oxford with ease, and have truly enjoyed this past week. We've found that, though Oxford is large, the individual colleges really help to bolster a sense of community and closeness by providing smaller student communities. Like a large club at my home university, everyone at St. Catz knows each other, and it is never uncommon to see our Facebook group littered with posts about borrowing a pair of scissors, asking for help finding something, or sharing strange items for a costume party that night in the JCR (Junior Common Room, essentially a place for hanging out, watching rugby, and, for a few students, watching Disney movies in their pajamas on the weekend).
The college is also very focused on providing support for students. During Fresher's Week (yes, it was an experience to relive my freshman days) we were constantly being thrown phone numbers, names, and places we could contact for any problem a student could ever face. Be it an issue with your room, feeling too overwhelmed and stressed with the workload, or feeling as if you don't belong, there is always someone ready to talk. With the amount of work we do have, the resources seem to be appreciated, and we could tell that St. Catz is very invested in the wellbeing of their students.
And now, for the subject of work... Oxford goes by a tutorial system, which involves each student meeting with their professor/tutor once a week, usually an hour at a time. During the rest of the week, we are encouraged to attend the various lectures in our subject (who wouldn't??), and must work on sets of readings and books in order to write a paper each week. Despite it being called "0th Week," I by no means had zero work; my first paper was due for my very first tutorial only a few days after my arrival. Though this sounds like a lot, I really love my primary topic— Nineteenth-Century British Literature— so reading and writing a paper on Bronte's Jane Eyre this week was work I'm more than willing to do!
And, of course, there is no better feeling than logging onto the Bodleian Library catalogue each week: having access to Oxford's libraries is the cherry on top of this academic experience. I also feel like a super-genius when I get to use my little swipey card to get into the parts of the library that say, "NOT OPEN TO VISITORS." I'd better enjoy this alias while it lasts... it won't be long until I'm the one creepily peering into college gates and observing students with extensive backpack matter as they exit the library. But, until then, I've got eight weeks to go... (eight weeks filled with swiping my Bod card like nobody's business because I can).