Michaelmas Week 5: Five weeks in… as a PPE Fresher

Okay, so in this post I hope to summarize my experiences in freshers and the weeks since. I came to Oxford with worries about elitism and “impostor syndrome”. Although I’ve experienced both of these in my time here so far, I’ve also had a brilliant time!

Freshers week is strange. By the end you’ll be sick of the questions, “What are you studying” and “Where are you from”, for life. You’ll see lots of people around college that you’ve spoken to but simply cannot remember the names of, and will probably get caught out not knowing someone’s name at least once (it happened to me a lot!). What freshers week does do however, is make you realize, that all these people that you may have spent along time worrying about meeting, are (almost always) normal and likeable people!! Everyone tends to be sufficiently unique and interesting that the awkwardness quickly diffuses. It’s quite likely you won’t meet or be friends with those people that you’ll spend the rest of the next 3 years with in freshers so don’t worry too much about this! Just enjoy it and appreciate how this is time in Oxford that you won’t spending worrying about getting an essay or problem sheet in on time!

Academically I personally feel a bit out of place with my course currently! It just seems that all the other PPE students are so so so clever and that I’m not, “impostor syndrome” is apparently very common, the way I think about it is that everyone was selected for different reasons, especially with a degree that has 3 different elements! They may already know more than you in certain topics but throughout your degree you’ll formally learn these things and so on! So far I’ve only had one tutorial that has gone badly, and in that I did get a lot of constructive feedback meaning that I can write a better essay and generally prepare better in the future. Most tutors don’t expect you to arrive perfect, and will support you in improving your knowledge and work, that is after all their job… Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

When it comes to my worries about elitism. I think that this is a factor that depends heavily on your college. I am lucky in the fact that the college I am currently at doesn’t have too much of this. However I have come across a small number of students who act and think in a way that I can’t particularly comprehend. One said to me openly that he believed that “there were too many poor people at Oxford”, while another said that Access work goes too far, and that if a student needs access work to support them getting in then they don’t deserve to be here. As someone who has been on the receiving end of numerous Access projects, I could not disagree with both of these statements more. However, as I’ve said these are a very small minority of the student population and I really wouldn’t worry too much about people like this if you’re considering applying!! If anything meeting them for me was more comical than anything else…

That’s all for this post, I’ll try and post again soon, whenever work permits!

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