Day in the Life of an Oxford English Student

18 Dec, 2023 | English, University Preparation

Hi, I’m Ameal, a second-year English student at the University of Oxford. I’m writing this blog to show you what a day in the life of an Oxford English student is really like.

Oxford has been home to many great writers, making it an inspiring place to study literature. Also, I’ve found that the English course allows you to have a lot of control over your schedule, which has been helpful in managing my chronic fatigue.

College: The Place You Call Home

The University of Oxford is a collegiate university, which means it’s split into various colleges – Oxford has over 30! Your college is where you sleep, eat and receive a lot of your teaching, so it makes up a big part of your university experience. I attend Somerville College, which was founded in 1879 as the first non-denominational women’s college in Oxford, although it now accepts people of any gender. So far, I’ve really enjoyed its friendly and supportive atmosphere. 

Because we all live in the same place, a lot of my friend group go to my college. However, there are definitely lots of opportunities to meet people from other colleges through clubs and societies.

Somerville College, the University of Oxford

Morning Routine

Every day’s a little bit different when you’re studying at university, but the general structure of my mornings is split into two parts:

Work: Reading, writing and libraries

I usually wake up at 8am, have breakfast in my room, and get started on work by 9am. 

Although many people love to work in Oxford’s beautiful libraries and welcoming study spots, I usually prefer the cosy privacy of my room. When I do go to a library, it will be my college library. It’s close by and has pretty much any book I could need!

My morning work could be any number of things: organising my day using helpful apps, reading a book, researching for an essay, or writing up a presentation for class, to name a few. I get on with that until about 11am and then take a break before lunch.

Somerville College library, University of Oxford

A rejuvenating break

As someone who suffers with symptoms of chronic fatigue, a nap is an unavoidable feature of my day. Having one just before lunch means that I can wake up refreshed and ready for the rest of my day.

Although you might think there isn’t time for this kind of break at such an academically rigorous university, in order to perform the best you can while staying happy and healthy, listening to your body is key! The hours I spend awake are much more focused and productive as a result of the time I spend napping. This allows me to meet deadlines while staying energised.

Afternoon Activities

After my nap, it’s time to get on with my afternoon – starting with lunch!

Lunch: Refuel in Hall

One perk of the college system is that you have the option to eat meals in the dining hall. I choose to do this most of the time because the meals are affordable, time-saving, and I can pay conveniently via the balance on my university card. Also, eating in the dining hall is a great way to meet and catch up with friends.

My college offers a meat, vegetarian and vegan option for every meal, as well as soup, salad bowl, and dessert options. Allergens are labelled on the menu and are viewable in advance via the online booking system. One of the meal options will pretty much always be marked “NGCI”, which stands for “No Gluten Containing Ingredients”. As someone with Coeliac disease, this is brilliant because it means that I can regularly (and safely!) eat in the dining hall.

I can’t speak for the dining halls of other colleges as prices, meals offered, and catering for dietary requirements vary amongst them. If you are a prospective Oxford applicant, I would definitely recommend researching this aspect of the college you’re planning to apply to.

Somerville College dining hall, University of Oxford

Classes and tutorials

After lunch, I might have a class or a tutorial. Classes are sessions led by a tutor that involve discussion of a certain topic, author or literary work. They are in college and attended by your college course mates. In my experience, there tend to be about seven people in one class. 

Tutorials, on the other hand, are meetings that are one-to-one or one-to-two. You discuss an essay you’ve written with a tutor, which helps you to clarify, improve and expand your ideas.

Work: Lecture recordings and essays

Later in the afternoon, I like to catch up on lectures. They run in the mornings, but I like to watch recordings of them towards the end of the day.

If I’m all caught up on lectures or have an essay deadline coming up, I might use my afternoon to work on planning or writing that instead.

Evening Relaxation

For me, the evening is a break from work and a chance to socialise before bed.

Dinner

My work day normally ends with dinner in the dining hall. However, if there isn’t anything that appeals to me that day, I might treat myself and go to one of Oxford’s many eateries.

If I’m feeling fancy, I go to the formal dinner my college runs every week. Students can choose to enjoy a three-course meal, and they can also bring guests from other colleges or from outside of the university.

Clubs and societies

After dinner, I generally go to a society event of some kind. I’m part of quite a few college societies, and the University as a whole also has a huge number of clubs and societies to enjoy. 

A favourite of mine is Somerville College Deception Society, where we play social deduction games together. I’m a member of Oxford University Re-enactment Society, where we make Anglo-Saxon clothing and practise combat. I’m also on the committee of The Oxford Writers, where we run workshops and have lots of writerly discussions.

If I’m not going to any of these societies, my evening activities might include playing a tabletop role-playing game with my Dungeons and Dragons group, seeing a student play, or getting ice cream with friends.

After socialising, I try to get to bed before 11pm so that I can get at least eight hours of sleep.

And so ends my day as an Oxford English student! There’s a lot to do every day, but with good planning you can achieve a great balance of work, rest and fun.

Ameal

By Ameal Wolf

Ameal is reading English Language and Literature at Somerville College, University of Oxford. They are passionate about access and outreach, and they volunteer as a Student Ambassador for their college. They are interested in the power of literature to enhance and alter people’s perspectives and thus to change the world. They particularly enjoy writing, reading and studying the literature of the fantastic. 
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