by Monim Wains
Welcome to Oxford, the best university in the world! (For three years running, don’t you know, no one in the UK has ever done that before!) And welcome to Oriel, the hands-down, no questions asked, best college in Oxford.
That’s quite an introduction to live up to, but the number of times we’ve heard it makes us quite confident that people agree with it. For a fresher, that’s quite a daunting prospect. Can I really be in the best university in the world? Is Oriel really the place for me?
I suppose the point of Freshers’ Week is to forget about all of these inevitable questions and dive into the rush of everything. Going out at night for things you’d never think of doing before, is as exciting as it is unnerving. And for those of us who aren’t complete party animals, there’s still much to get stuck into (mainly ice creams and ice rinks). However, having come to the end of ‘the best week of my life so far,’ I really wonder if such an expectation for the week builds itself up too high.
It’s not the first time this has happened. Going into secondary school, I was going into the best years of my life so far. Going into sixth form, I was going into the best years of my life so far. And now, going into uni… Looking back on it, it’s true. I enjoyed the time I spent in school, but I don’t remember how it all began. I don’t remember the first few weeks of the year, when it was all about settling in and meeting new people. What I do remember is the time after I had found my place. The friendships and memories I made over the years. The first week was unsure; it was the long term that made it worthwhile.
Freshers’ Week has been similar. The friendliness of the college has surprised me incredibly. No doubt, I feel like an Orielensis. I know that I will pass tea and toast on to the next batch of people, just as the warmth of the second years has served it to me. With that, though, I will also want to pass on a change, an honest reduction to the height of fresher excitement. A simple question to the older years might make this easier. Do you think Freshers’ was the best week of all? Or was it only the start of the time that you now cherish?
If you are like me, you will have spent your time trying to befriend people. Learning to walk independently of parental support. You will begin to define yourself with the freedom and bewilderment of young adulthood. What are you actually meant to do on a Sunday when you have no work (other than writing for The Poor Print)? You will learn, I hope, that in this independence, you aren’t alone. You are like everyone else who is just dipping their toes in the water.
When I look back on this week, I hope to think that this was the beginning, not the peak. That we will remember the memories we make, not just the introductions we’ve had. It really is a new dawn, and every dawn is bright. But it’s the day that you remember, and that has just begun.
Good luck to you all for the next year.