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Are you thinking about choosing Oxford colleges? Although I have just spent a single term here at Somerville College Oxford, I have to let you know that this is really an amazing place! From one day to the next, it can be a quiet place to study, a friendly place to socialise, and a cozy place to rest.

Why Somerville College Oxford? Reason 1: the Somerville library

First things first, the library here is just amazing. It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and all year round! This is a treasure many Somervillians take pride in.

When I was interviewed in Somerville, I stepped into the library to feel the atmosphere there. It was quiet, warm, and comfortable. And when I came out, I picked a book from the college. The nice librarian told me just feel free to take it away!*

*Please note: walking off with books will not always meet with approval from librarians in Oxford

In addition to more typical ways to hang out, I will sometimes spend the whole afternoon in the library at weekends with friends. We read in silence and just enjoy the moment. I am sure I will miss this place after I graduate!

oxford somerville college library
Somerville College Library: photo taken from the third floor. These books are on literature, history etc. Left hand side are some valuable copies of masterpieces from several centuries ago!

Reason 2: the Somerville food

Tasty food reasonably priced. I've got plenty of pictures on a wide range of main courses and dessert and salad. The buffet bar at Somerville College is one of the largest among the Oxford colleges, serving fresh vegetables, chicken breast, sausages, tuna and more. Sometimes they have smoked salmon as well.

Also, the prices using university cards is fairly acceptable. Maximum 15 pounds a day if you have all the main courses, desserts and drinks.

sausages mash somerville college oxford
A typical meal in Somerville College
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Formal dinner at Somerville College

Reason 3: the Somerville Oxford location

10 minutes from city centre, maximum 5 minutes from Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Science departments.

This gives you a good reason to wake up at as late as 8.30 if you have a lecture at 9. And good sleep quality is the very foundation for almost everything!

Reason 4: the Somerville bar

Great bar and great atmosphere. The bar serves college-made wines named 'Stone-cold Jane Austen' and, less inventively, 'Somerville wine'.

You can play billiards with friends, do self-study or go through problem sheets together while enjoying anything from vodka to a mug of hot chocolate.

Somerville college bar oxford
Terrace, Somerville Bar–I normally use this as a nice place for group discussion

Reason 5: the Somerville atmosphere

Extremely friendly atmosphere. I can't go any further without saying how warm and kind the tutors, students and staff here are.

Somerville College Oxford was also the first Oxford college to be open to women and is now one of the most supportive Oxford colleges to LGBTQ people. The international students officer too goes out of their way to organise bopping, clubbing and other social events especially for international students on a regular basis.

When I first arrived at the college at the end of September, there were lots of people helping me fit into Oxford life. Although English is my second language and there were some language barriers, my tutors, the staff in the dining hall, and the six other physicists have managed to help me out. Many thanks to them!

Somerville College Oxford Physics
Doing Physics with friends in Somerville College

Reason 6: the Somerville heritage

Many famous people used to study here. Ms. Thatcher the prime minister, Gandhi, and many others! Therefore this is a good place with ideal atmosphere for studying History, Politics, Philosophy, and other social science subjects as well. Also there is a Thatcher Scholarship which is open to applications from both home and abroad.

And… things that may discourage about Somerville College

Somerville is about people, not architecture. If you're searching for splendid views of an Oxford college, then Worcester, Keble, New college, Christ Church etc. may be better choices. In Somerville, although there are some old buildings, they are not so recognised as traditional ones. Instead, this college gained popularity mainly because of its people.

vaughn building somerville college oxford
The Vaughan building: a little strange isn't it? (Especially when comparing to the library just across from it.)
somerville college library oxford
Somerville College library from the outside

It's quiet, cozy, and a bit out-of-the-way here. If you prefer be in Oxford city centre then it would be nicer to be in a college like Oriel or Christ Church. That said, it's not always hard to find things like good restaurants here, though. Coming from China myself, I've tried out the Chinese restaurant called 'Fusion House' and it tastes not bad at all.


All in all, Somerville College Oxford should definitely be on your list when choosing Oxford colleges if you are expecting a cozy and friendly society. But on top of our atmosphere and people, we still manage to have great facilities in our library, canteen, and bar.

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