Oxford: 10 top survival tips to help you settle in successfully
Aysha Fateeha from Malaysia uses her new local knowledge and shares her 10 tips for having a successful first few weeks as a student at Kings Oxford!
1. Use Google Maps
Move over best friends, we’ve got another special guy moving over to sit on our table. Previously mentioning about getting lost, if you have google maps, you’ll definitely solve this problem (most of the time). It’s really important to plan your trip on Google maps as they’ll tell you what bus to take, what time it’ll leave and where to walk to get to your other bus stop.
2. Get a bus card or a bicycle
On Cowley road, there are plenty of bicycle shops selling them at a reasonable price. Cowley is not exactly a huge area, but it does take quite a while (and energy) to get from one place to another if you have no means of transportation. If you want to avoid traffic, which usually happens at 5 pm when people are returning home from work, then get a bicycle. Most of the students see this as a better and cheaper option. However, if you don’t want to buy a bicycle because you’re either too scared to ride a bicycle or it’s too cold, opt for a bus card. It can get a little pricey, but it’ll be worth it if you travel a lot.
3. Go shopping
During winter, it can get very cold here. The coldest that I’ve ever experienced was -6 which wasn’t too bad compared to when it was -3 degrees with cold wind blowing at you. There are always sales at Primark, H&M, Marks and Spencer’s, New Look and Next which can be found at the city center. There are also a few shops in Cowley Centre, which is about a 10-minute walk from the St. Joseph’s Campus. So, go and buy a thick coat and some gloves because you’re about to be Anna braving the snow her sister created.
4. Go on a gastronomy adventure
A good thing about Oxford is its diversity. On Cowley Road, Templar’s Square and the City Centre there are a variety of shops. Whatever food you want, you name it, they have it. From Persian food, to Thai, to Indian, to Chinese or you can even settle for the normal, English breakfast. To name a few, Majliis, Oriental Express, Dominoes, Taberu and Kebab Kid. With this much food, you’ll never go hungry.
Whether it’s in Oxford or out of it, go out and enjoy the sun. Yes, it can get very cold here, but it’s usually very sunny. My advice, go out and take a walk at 10 in the morning. If you don’t like the crowd, this is the perfect time to take a breather. No one goes out at this time usually and the temperature at this time is perfect. Not too warm, not too cold.
There are so many places to visit in Oxford. There are plenty of museums, for example the Ashmolean Museum and the History of Science Museum. Visit the famous Radcliffe Camera and bridge where a few popular movies used as their set. For example, X-Men first class and Belle. Visit South Park, University Parks and the Botanic Garden if you want some green.
Besides that, Oxford is only a bus ride away from so many places. For example, it takes 2 hours and 11 pounds to go to London and back. 9 pounds to Birmingham and 6 to Reading. Every weekend, choose a place to explore and broaden your knowledge.
6. Go on a Caffeine Binge
Add visiting coffee shops to your gastronomy adventure. There are plenty of these hipster café’s to settle your needs and thirst for coffee. A few good ones are George and Delilah, sundaes and gelato and rick’s café. I’ve never yet found one shop that sells bad coffee.
We should be grateful that we live in an era where the internet is at our fingertips. Internet is super useful for assignments and research. A good thing is, in every shop, there will always be free internet. The buses here in Oxford here even have it!
The internet is also very useful when you miss your family and friends back home and you want to Skype them. For me, I used to Skype them every single day. But as time went on, I got used to them not being around me and start to depend on the Internet less and less. I still get to keep my connection with my family back home but I have become more independent. It will get better, trust me.
8. Do what you love
Some people tend to not get homesick until they’ve been here for about a month. That’s when you start feeling sad and wish you were back home with your family instead. My advice is to keep your mind and heart occupied on doing something that you like. There are plenty of classes to sign up for. At school, they have free basketball and football lessons. They also have an activity every day. Outside of school, you can sign up for kickboxing lessons, the gym, Zumba, tennis, jewellery making classes; the list is endless!
9. Open up and make friends
Being in a new environment, people tend to forget that everyone else is feeling the exact same way. Everyone is different. Some might look confident but in reality they’re just as lost and vulnerable as you. Everyone here is in the same boat, so don’t be afraid to reach out and try opening up about yourself, they’re just as cautious about themselves as you are.
There will be a time where you open up and end up embarrassing yourself, but at least you can say that you tried and pat your back for a job well done. Courage is one of the most attractive trait one can have. It might take some time, but there surely would be someone there who you can connect and share a bond with. Don’t feel upset when some of those friendships don’t work, because there’ll be more of them ahead of you and if those friendships last, you know they are people that you can trust and cherish forever.
10. Stay positive
The most important thing is to always look up. There will be a time when you’ll feel like you're trapped in an endless rut but always find something to be happy about. You can even talk about it to the counselors in school if you really feel upset. They’ll drop everything to help you. It will take some time, but you’ll learn how to adapt and adjust to your new environment.
"You know what they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself calling Oxford home."