There is nothing like orientation. Everyone has gone through it at least once, and Visiting Students at oxford are included in the new student orientation at every college, known as Fresher’s Week. It is crazy, a chance to meet not only other Visiting Students from around the world but also the full-time oxford students, both those returning and those just beginning like yourself. It is orientation the Oxford way, and every college does it differently.
My Fresher’s Week started off with a Welcome Tea for Visiting Students beginning shortly after our arrival on Tuesday of naught week. From there, we gathered with all the other first year (‘freshers’) in the JCR where we met our College parents for the first time. College parents are Oxford’s way of setting up new (and visiting) students with older students within their subject and a couple other new students to provide a support network that they can utilize when they have need of it. One parent is always in the student’s subject, the other may be in the same or maybe in a different subject and they usually have two fresher kids and maybe one or two visiting student kids. Unfortunately there was a mix up with my parents, so I was adopted by two other parents, neither of which were in my subject, but they were great anyway. We went out for drinks at a pub in town where we all got to know each other (with another college family) then headed back to Catz for our first college dinner. It was the perfect beginning to my time at Oxford.
The rest of the week was spent in sessions (though visiting students had less than the freshers themselves had), fun events hosted by the JCR, and then club nights out on the town. There was always a gathering in the JCR in the evenings so that people could mingle, hang out, drink, and relax before the chaos of term actually started. There were staircase parties so people could meet the people living around them, and on Friday there was the first Entz of the term: the Name Game Entz. Everyone dressed up as something that matched the first letter of their first or preferred name. There was a multitude of different outfits, of varying creativity and effort. I opted to reuse a skittle shirt I had made for a Candy Land themed party at Rice, but overall it was a lot of fun to people watch and try to guess what people were dressed up as. Some of them were easier to others, but it was definitely a great way to meet new people (and remember their names!) and celebrate the beginning of term at a new University.