One of my favourite events at St Catz Oxford each year is the Oxmas dinner. Oxmas is a lot like Christmas but it's in November and it's not Jesus's birthday. It is however a great chance to have a Christmas dinner with your friends at college and go to carols after.
I've now had 4 years at St Catz and 4 Oxmas dinners. Here's each one as a Christmas movie.
St Catz Oxmas 1: Elf
Much like the main character in this Christmas classic you're new on the block and very keen to make friends. Some of the older Oxmas hall goers may roll their eyes at you, but really they just envy your boundless energy.
My first experience as a fresher at St Catz was standing in my room feeling nervous all of a sudden, unpacked boxes all around me, listening to people up and down the staircase presenting brownies and cookies as tokens of friendship (yes, it works).
The first term is hectic with Freshers' Week and Matriculation (the welcoming ceremony, done in the Sheldonian and performed in Latin while 200 students fill the room with the the sound of coughing). Plus, getting started on your course and meeting loads of new people who you refer to as 'Hey buddy' and hope they don't realise that you forgot their name.
What everyone says about first year is that they wish they had taken it less seriously. That's probably the best advice I can offer too. Have fun and enjoy yourself as much as possible.
St Catz Oxmas 2: Home Alone
As a second year you more or less run the college. Third years are too busy with finals and the freshers don't have a clue what's going on. You may not either, but I bet you can give it a go. Slap on some aftershave, you run the house now.
By second year, you have an idea of what the best way to work is. You've developed a good social network around college and the rest of Oxford. This is a great time to get involved in projects around Oxford and your college.
St Catz Oxmas 3: Love Actually
Compared to some of the more problematic ways love is shown in the real Love Actually, this is something much better. 3 years of supporting each other through all the hard work and all the other difficulties of life has left you closer than ever. Even though some people may be moving on this year, you have no doubt made some friends for life.
In the third year, the workload given by your tutors may not change drastically from your second year, but the feeling that you really should start revising might. You may find yourself disappearing into the library for weeks on end or bringing notes to lunch. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable, but be careful of burning out.
St Catz Oxmas 4: It's a Wonderful Life
Lots of young people might have never seen you before or even understand why you're still a thing. But you've shown that you can last the test of time. Time to move on to other things.
That's probably a little unfair on fourth year students. I should add that this year I'm living out of college and I am a bit of a recluse so It is 100% my fault that I haven't met any of the freshers yet. As I said before, as a fresher you're looking to make friends.
The moral of the story
A definite pro about the collegiate system at Oxford is that it makes it so easy to make friends. Living in halls together for your first year and usually one or two more years after that means it's hard not to bump into someone while carrying your washing to the laundry room or going to the supermarket.
There is always someone who is available for chat or a drink in the bar. No doubt, as someone who is leaving Oxford and St Catz next year, I'm romanticising a little, but the point is that college makes it so easy to make friends. So, as a fresher coming in, don't worry.