Tips for Oxford
If all roads lead to Rome, everything important started in Oxford. From the Ashmolean to the Science Museum, Oxford houses an array of world famous pieces of art and science. Take advantage of all Oxford has to offer and add a dose of culture to your academic studies.
|Ashmolean Museum||Admission: free|
|Museum of Natural History||Admission: free|
|Botanic Gardens||Admission: free on the weekends|
Have you eaten a kebab? A student favorite of Oxford, the kebab vans come out in the evening and offer cheap and great Indian food (and the only thing open late). Equivalent to a Taco King or Donut Man run!
Pick up the Oxford lingo:
- You will probably refer to the Bodleian library by its full name on your first day. After that, you will fondly remember it as “the Bod”, as well as the “Rad Cam”, instead of the Radcliffe Camera.
- If you are fortunate enough to be inducted into New College, you will learn that it is simply called “New”.
- Everything in Oxford revolves around your college; if you live within the college walls, you live “in college”. You eat “in hall” and you head “to college.” The library, however, will always be the library.
- Oxford students will probably ask you what “uni” you attend in the States. “Uni” is short for “University”.
- St. Catherine’s is also a college with a nickname. Students fondly refer to it as “St. Catz” or just simply “Catz”.
- “Entzes” or “bops” are the titles given to in-college dances. These are a blast - after all, “entz” is short for “entertainment”!
- The word “dodgy” is used to describe a bad part of town or a food that might not settle well. Think “shady” in the U.S.
- “Cheers” is how they say “thanks” in England - you will come to use this word often!
- Make sure to always use the word “trousers” when referring to someone’s pants or when buying clothing. In England, “pants” are undergarments, not outer wear.
Colleges to Visit
You might not believe this once you are inducted into your college, but there are other colleges worth a visit. Each Oxford College has its own unique reputation and history. Some are simply quaint and peaceful; others are monuments of architecture and art.
Christ Church College: Visit the only Cathedral in Oxford and the impressive dining hall.
Magdalen College (pronounced MAHdlen): College chapel contains a full-size replica of da Vinci’s Last Supper. With 100 acres of landscape and grounds, Magdalen College has its own deer!
St. Johns College: If they’re famous, most likely they graduated from St. Johns, including Britain’s Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
New College: The old city wall (c. 12th century) runs right through the middle of New College. The college chapel and cloisters are world famous and worth exploring. During term, take the opportunity to hear the New College choir during their Evensong service.
Best Bird’s Eye View
|St. Mary’s Church tower||Admission: £1.50|
|Carfax Tower (St. Martin’s Church)||Admission: not known|
City of Oxford “to-do's”
Oxford is known for its oddities, quirky traditions, and unique student population. While in Oxford, you have the opportunity to take part in several of these activities and see what it is like to be an Oxford student (when you visit Cambridge, you will understand).
Things to Do and Places to Go
Port Meadow: With horses running free in a big open field, Port Meadow is a great place to exercise or just clear your head from tutorials. It is located at the end of Walton Well Road in Jericho, just across the way from Wolvercote.
Punting: Why punt on the Cam when you can punt on the Thames? Popular during fair weather, punting is a favorite pastime of students. Just watch out for rowing eights who just might use you as target practice!
Oxford Union: You will be given membership in the prestigious Oxford Union. The union hosts fantastic debates that are known for their age-old traditional style as well as their famous participants. Lectures are also available and admission is always free.
Oxford Playhouse: Although London is only an hour and a half away by bus, Oxford offers its own quality theater culture. There are many places to watch live theater performances by Oxford University students, such as the OFS Studio.
Improvisational Comedy: The Oxford Imps put on a hilarious show every Monday night of term at the Wheatsheaf pub located on High Street. They sing songs and create scenes right on the spot, and their talents are unmatched. A season pass is only £10 and is well worth the money!
Evensong: Evensong services are offered nearly every night either at New College or Christ Church College. For Christ Church, the Sunday service is usually more popular. If you have a free evening, attend New’s before formal hall. Both colleges have renowned choirs.
High Tea: There are a number of nice, small cafes or restaurants to have tea. A favorite is the garden behind St. Mary’s University Church. If there are any habits you will pick up from Oxford, a new love for tea will probably be one of them.
Once you become familiar with the city, start taking the side roads; small cobblestone alleyways are often the coolest parts of Oxford. I was once shown the back entrance to my college, by far the best walk ever.
Best Resource for events, restaurant reviews, items for sale, etc:
Oxford Daily Info – www.dailyinfo.co.uk
You will discover that the tutorial system affords quite a bit of free time on your hands. The best way to get to know the culture you live in is to get involved. There are a variety of opportunities in Oxford; you will have no trouble finding something that interests you, maybe even try something new!
Because of the college system, intramural sports are usually played college against college. One of the more popular sports is rowing (or crew), with the opportunity to participate in the annual end of term races. Other sports APU students have participated in include rugby, volleyball, netball, and football (also known as soccer).
Past APU Oxford students have participated in their college choirs or performed in a student play. If you enjoy music, the Jericho Tavern has a weekly jazz night that is worth attending.
Most colleges have a Christian Union (similar to InterVarsity Fellowship), and some even hold weekly Bible studies. The best way to get involved with these types of groups is to look for flyers posted in the JCR or talk to other students you may meet at a local church service.
Take dance lessons, attend a hip hop class, volunteer at a charity in the city, attend college functions: whatever you do, get involved and have fun!
The King’s Arms: A tourist favorite as well, it is in close proximity to the Bodleian and your college. The King’s Arms has a great selection of food; try their pizza!
Old Bookbinders: Throw peanuts on the floor and play scrabble in this small and cozy pub near Oxford’s Jericho neighborhood. A favorite of students, it is a local spot, tucked away from the areas that are most frequented by tourists.
The Eagle and Child: This is the pub made famous by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Sit in the rabbit room and be a part of history. There is also extra seating in the back of this long and narrow building. The fish and chips are excellent!
The Turf: You will probably have to ask someone who knows where it is. It is nicely hidden off an alleyway near New College. The Turf offers outside fireplaces that are great for s’mores or just keeping warm in the winter.
Bill Spectre’s Ghost Tour: Take a suspense-filled tour of the city of Oxford at night led by the captivating Bill Spectre. He will take you on a walking tour to all of the city’s sights of mayhem and mystery, as well as enlighten you about age-old ghost tales that take place in Oxford.
|Pepper’s Burger’s and Meltz To Go are both on Walton Street in Jericho|
Taking Care of Business
Sainsbury’s (Westgate Shopping Center)
Gloucester Green Farmer’s Market
|Westgate Shopping Center|
Mark’s and Spencer
ATMs are everywhere and almost all will take your bank card if there is a major credit card logo on it. Although most of the ATMs do not charge a fee, your home bank most likely will. There are a couple of currency exchanges that do not charge commission; try to avoid banks for exchanges.
Most houses will include a working phone. You will be able to receive calls and you will be able to make local, national, and international calls using a phone card available from any good newsagent in Oxford for £5. Further details are provided at Orientation. The cost of calling the U.S. from Oxford using these cards can be as low as 4 pence (6 cents) per minute.
Every student in the program is eligible to borrow a mobile phone for a £20 deposit 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. It is not advisable to use a mobile phone to make international phone calls home. Skype is a great alternative for communicating with family and friends in the States. (For more details, visit www.skype.com.)
Tips for Tutorials
- Oxford has many libraries located all throughout the city, so be sure to take advantage of them! You will only be able to check books out from the city library and your specific college library, so be sure to manage your library time well.
- Do not wait until the day before your tutorial to ask your tutor for help. Many tutors work through email and are happy to answer your questions, but you will be unlikely to get a response at the last minute; or, if you do, the response you receive will most likely require you to do more research. It is best to ask for help early.
- Always be prepared for a discussion in your tutorial. Since tutorial meetings are one-on-one, you will not have 30 classmates to hide behind if you forget to do the reading. Your tutor will expect you to have done extensive research each week and to be ready to discuss your research findings.
- If you are interested in exploring a certain area of your subject, tell your tutor! Chances are he or she will allow you to write your next essay on that. Tutors are there as guides; you are in control of your education.
- If your tutor offers feedback on past papers, be sure to heed their advice! A large part of your grade for tutorials will be based on your improvement throughout the term and on how well you can assimilate ideas discussed in previous sessions. Your tutor wants to see progress!
Suggested Hotels/Visitor Accommodations
The following hotels are of mid-range price and have been described as great, affordable options for visitors to the Oxford area. Most of the hotels are located within walking distance to the city center. These are great options for visitors to the Azusa Oxford Semester: