Every year thousands of new students flock to Oxford, making up over a quarter of its population. Being a centre of academic excellence as well as an overwhelmingly young demographic, Oxford has many activities and opportunities that students shouldn’t miss! From hidden libraries that are thousands of years old, to fun ways to pass your time that are unique to the Oxford experience.
The first activity you must experience as a student are the libraries. It sounds boring, but trust me it isn’t. When you first begin university or college after a long summer, there is nothing less appealing than the pile of assignments slowly growing on your desk. Heading off to a beautiful ‘dark academia’ style library will put you into a studying mood and suddenly you will find yourself with a smaller pile and a regained will to study.
Even if you are new to the city, I doubt you can miss the Radcliffe Camera standing in the centre of Oxford. However, what you may not realise is beneath your feet sits the Bodleian Old Library. Open to all University and Bodleian Reader card holders, this space is just one of the perks of being a student in Oxford. If studying in a library isn’t your preferred location, there are lots of cafes and open spaces such as University Parks and the Handle Bar cafe.
Now that you have your pile of work out the way, and providing the weather is warm, this next activity is the best way to spend your recreational time in an Oxford-style way: punting. Punting in the rivers of Oxford is an activity every Oxonian should experience. My favourite area to punt in is the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse, located just under Magdalen bridge where you can float past the Botanical Gardens, Christchurch Meadows and Magdalen College grounds. Provided you keep your balance and don’t lose your pole (avoiding a Life of Pi situation), punting makes for an excellent day out with friends.
Go for a walk
This next activity can be entirely free and can be done alone or with friends. Especially if you are new to Oxford, there is a lot to see by simply walking around. Many scenes from Harry Potter were filmed in Oxford in locations such as areas of Christchurch, Divinity School and Duke Humfrey’s Library. Even if you are not a Harry Potter fanatic, these places also appear in other films or shows such as The History Boys, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Tolkien, Brideshead Revisited and more! There are many buildings and markets to visit too. Further ideas of where to visit on this self-motivated walking tour can be found in this ‘Best Places To Go And Things To See In Oxford’ article.
A bite to eat
Lastly, after tackling the underground libraries, the roads, and the rivers of Oxford, next up is a place to eat! The Covered Market in Oxford holds a variety of foods and independent stores to find something to eat. Or, if it happens to be a market day, head to Gloucester Green for international cuisine and some light shopping. If you are feeling adventurous or are looking for places nearer to Oxford Brookes University, head to Cowley Road for a long stretch of amazing and unique restaurants. Anything from fallafel to Crepes can be found here. My favourites include Taste Tibet, Sylvies (best coffee and pastries) and Arbequina.
Oxford truly is the best place to be a student, from world-leading research to its architecture and a decent night out, it is a lovely place to live and study. It has so many opportunities available and places to discover. As long as you look in the right areas, you can never be bored of what it has to offer. I hope this has inspired you to make the most of your time as a student in Oxford!