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By Tom Ough
So it all comes down to this. A single week in which to make the first impression that will define your university years and beyond. No pressure, kids. If you’re heading to Oxford, the chances are you’ll be trying to reinvent your bespectacled, etiolated self into something more socially successful, but, before you start, take heed of our handy summation of what not to do.
Talk about your interview
There’s only one thing more boring than other people’s dreams, and that’s other people’s interviews. Most of us arrive under the impression that ours was awful, that it’s a miracle we’re here, and that this captivating drama will be equally engrossing to others. But however enthralling you think your tale, it’s probably best to keep it under wraps rather than risk alienating your new pals through brute stultification.
Attempt to maintain a long-distance relationship
Everyone says to start Freshers’ week single. But they’re wrong. We’re not like the rest. Ours is a love which transcends dodgy Skype reception and expensive train journeys. Well, at risk of stirring the ardent passions of proto-Romeos and juvenile Juliets, conventional wisdom unfortunately tends to get it right on this one. Freshers’ Week is a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of rutting like the animals you are, and it shouldn’t be wasted on whispering sweet nothings down the phone. A final OxStu tip: Why not spend the money you save from your phone bill on beer and lube?
Get smashed without knowing your way home
It’s all fun and games when you celebrate reaching higher education by annihilating the very brain cells that got you there. But, in a new city, with new friends, sometimes things can take a turn for the worse. Take the example of a current member of the OxStu editorial team. This hitherto upstanding young Lincolnite attained such a level of inebriation that, rather than walk back to his college, he decided to take the train instead. Destination? Lincoln. That’s Lincoln, East Midlands. Top that.
Spend all your money
A diet of baked beans and toenail clippings may seem gritty and authentic from suburbia – “So uni!” – but, realistically, the Student Finance cash is going to have to last you to December. If the temptation when the money rolls in is to upgrade your shitty broom-cupboard of a room to a suite at the Randolph, you’re going to have to stick it out. Money tends to get tight at the chilly end of Michaelmas, so make sure you’re not the one licking the mould in the college wine cellar for sustenance. Beg. Borrow. Steal. Invest money in restoring a usurped Nigerian prince to the throne and reap untold financial benefits.
Make an enemy of your scout
The single individual who stands between you and typhus is an important figure in your first Michaelmas. Let us again take recourse to my co-editor: “On the first night, I had a little too much to drink and threw up. I had my first meeting with my scout the next morning, where I handed her a bin full of my own vomit. Carlsberg don’t do first impressions…” The message is clear: save the vomit at least for when you’ve befriended the lady with the loo-roll, and preferably never. On a similar note, if you’re in the habit of sleeping naked, now’s the time to stop.
Take a printer with you
The attraction of bringing your own personal printer is an obvious one. Dash off essays at your convenience, become the hub of JCR election campaigns, and revel in your new desktop status symbol. But, like an expensive sports car, printers consume a huge amount of money (as well as causing simmering resentment on the non-printer side of Oxford’s greatest indicator of social inequality). Should you ever leave your room unlocked, there is great precedent for subsequently finding print-outs of the Internet’s most obscene filth everywhere – and God help you if you have a scanner too.
Try to make a sartorial statement
Don’t be the guy who tries to look alternative and ends up being called ‘Waistcoat’ for the rest of the year. If first impressions are the strongest, then you don’t want yours to be defined by a mankini. The exception to this rule is, of course, bops. You’ll stick out like a sore thumb if you aren’t dressed in drag, a nappy, a bin-bag, or some abhorrent combination of the three.
Bring a pen to Freshers’ Fair
The Geology society might rock, and you may scramble to join the Rugby Club egg-chasers, but bear in mind that every time you sign up for something, another email account dies. It’s hard to say no to the lone, doe-eyed representative of Crotcheting Club, but to avoid a year of spam from more clubs than Tiger Woods’ caddy can hold, be sparing in your commitments, and choose wisely. For instance, the Poo Patrol will promise to clog your inbox all year round, but at least your email account will remain unscathed. And, for God’s sake, don’t join the Conservative Association.
Even think about getting involved in rowing
The dream of becoming a bulging-thighed Adonis of the river swiftly descends into a nightmare of early mornings and exhausted nights. If you like getting up at 5 a.m., enjoy erging to chunder point, and are a fan of going teetotal for weeks, then rowing is for you. If you have higher ambitions than helping a boat move quickly, then stick your oar in somewhere else.
Jump on the Gap Yah bandwagon
Mocking the Gap Yah is so 2010. If you really want to stand out from the crowd, start having gloriously meta fun at the expense of those who have fun at the expense of Tarquin and chums. It’s an easy conversational crutch in the opening days, but the Gap Yah trope is getting as tired as Orlando’s pack-horse. By all means chunder everywhere this Freshers’ Week, but don’t forget: keep the banter fresh.