Because Oxford is more than just a university town, housing is notoriously scarce. Most colleges give preference to their own degree candidates which is why Associate Students (APU students’ official title while studying for the semester) are rarely offered rooms in college. Instead, students will be housed around town in flats (apartments) near the college and city center. The flats are furnished to normal Oxford student standards. Bedding will be provided, but towels will not. Some students may wish to supplement their furnishings on their own (photos or other decorations, a desk lamp, a rug, etc.). Though OPUS can’t guarantee any particular room in advance, they will try their best to secure student’s first or second choice from the Housing Form filled out after acceptance to the program. Students will not find out the details of their specific housing assignment until they arrive in Oxford.
In order to be placed in housing, students must submit proof that they have been vaccinated for meningitis. If a student is unable to do so, they must provide written documentation (from their doctor or a personal statement) explaining the reasons for their verification’s absence when they turn in their housing paperwork upon acceptance to the program. In addition, students will not be charged a damages deposit on their housing, though they will be personally financially responsible for any damages incurred to their assigned housing unit during their time in Oxford.
Keep in mind that Oxford University is spread out over several miles. No matter where students are living, the semester will involve a lot of walking. Many Oxford University students choose to travel by bike or bus, but most likely students will be within walking distance of tutorial meetings, and their college dining hall. All housing is structured similarly: students will have their own private bedroom and share a lounge, fully equipped kitchen and bathroom with 4–7 other students.
Every student in the program is eligible to borrow a mobile phone for a deposit cost for the duration of his/her participation. Incoming calls are entirely free. Students pay for any outgoing calls or text messages they make on a pay-as-you-go system: you can buy credits at any supermarket to “top-up” your phone and use this credit whenever you want to. It is possible to keep a mobile phone only to receive calls and to make emergency calls and incur zero cost. Skype is a great alternative for communicating with family and friends in the States (for more details visit skype.com) Also, new APPS like Viber for iPhone and Windows phones, allow people to call and text for free (Viber to Viber calls/texts).
All housing units should be set-up with wireless Internet access, and if not, the cost of set-up will be provided. The monthly fees for internet, which are the responsibility of the students, is to be split up evenly among flatmates. Internet will not be setup in the student’s flat for the first couple of days, but many of the coffee shops offer Internet, so plan accordingly. If students already own a laptop or notebook computer they should bring it with them. It is possible to complete academic work without one, and if students don’t have a computer or don’t want to bring it, they are not required to. If students do decide to bring a laptop (which is highly encouraged) pack it in carry-on luggage—avoid shipping your computer to Britain. Although UK voltage operates at 240 volts and not 110, most notebook computers now have worldwide voltage built-in; however, check with the manufacturer.
Most OPUS housing locations will be equipped with a printer. If there is not a printer in the flat when students arrive, they may request one. This means that students will have access to a printer in their own flat or another flat which they can share with other students on the program. Though a printer is provided, it is up to students and their flatmates to refill ink cartridges and paper as needed. Similar to APU, there is a small charge for printing documents at the college.
There is no meal plan through the Azusa Oxford Semester. Because meal plans are expensive and different for every college within the university, it would be difficult to offer a standard meal plan to students for the Oxford semester. Each housing unit has a kitchen for individual and/or group food preparation. Most students prefer to eat meals in their flats, but they may also choose to eat at their college. It is encouraged that students try dining in college, especially at formal dinners, as this is a great way to socialize with other students.
Most flats (not all) have a washer. Only a handful of the flats have a dryer. Many students that do not have access to a washer choose to take their laundry to a friend’s flat nearby. They usually study or socialize while they make use of their washing machine. Most students have to air dry their clothes outside, with the use of a clothesline, or indoors, using a drying rack (or an “airer” as the British call it). Students may also use a Laundromat (“Launderette”).
As an associate member of an Oxford College students are entitled to join any Oxford University club or society. Joining a club or team is encouraged, but not mandatory. If students do choose to join they will be responsible for any fees involved. Some past activities have included:
Oxford University Student Union
Local Church/College Small Groups
College Bops (Dances)
An excellent on-line source of information on student activities is at ousu.org/. For information on the city of Oxford you may like to explore oxfordcity.co.uk/. APU students will automatically be enrolled in the Oxford Union—one of the oldest, most private clubs in England, and the training ground for many British politicians and prime ministers. This membership will allow students the opportunity to listen to debates among world famous politicians, writers, scholars and other personalities (Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger, Yitzak Shamir, Kermit the Frog, Rufus Wainwright, and Shakira have all visited in past terms). In addition, the Union has an excellent library, a dining room, and a host of other cultural and social activities.
Meeting British Students
Oxford has a very active social scene. There is a high standard of courtesy in Britain, so most people are very helpful although a bit reserved at first. It will definitely take initiative to get to know British students. APU students should expect to seek out meeting people through various events around their college campus, and/or around town.