Hey Autocrat and all you other prospective Magdaleners!
Firstly I'll just tell you a bit about what life at Magdalen is like which should apply equally to prospective applicant types and to people holding an offer for this October. Regarding Law, Magdalen has a great reputation and there are various archaic prizes available as well as almost certainly some 'old-boy' style links with law companies. I spit on this. There's also the Atkins Society, which organises lots of dos where lawyers get wined and dined (mostly wined) by law companies that pick up the bill in exchange for a bit of (metaphorical) arse-kissing. Meh, lawyers don't have souls anyway!
Righty-ho: Magdalen is in some ways the typical Oxford college stereotype - large, academic, set in beautiful grounds including deer, a building deemed as 'New' dating from the early 18th century. It is not, however, filled with the type of irretrievably public-school rahs that such a image might suggest. There are, of course, a few of the almost-caricatured Etonian or Harrovian types (although most people from the top public schools are only identifiable by their being well-dressed, well-coiffeured and generally very self-confident. They're also often very fit.)
It would, however, be untrue to say that Magdalen is a utopia of equal opportunities, with people from each ethnic or other type of minority. I personally find the incredibly small number of black people at the college (I can think of a grand total of one) shocking and, although the numbers of asian and european groups is larger, the average Magdalener is still white and middle-class. However, the male/female ratio is almost exactly 50% and thus one of the best (truism presumed) in the university.
Right - that's the very general type stuff out of the way; I'll talk a bit about what life at Magdalen is like:
As a first-year, there are four places where you might have your room - all are outside of college walls (but all are within 5 minutes walking distance of college and some are a little closer to the city-centre than college is, which can be helpful if you've got early-morning lectures!)
About 75% of the first year is housed in the splendiferously 60s Wayneflete building, which is just over Magdalen bridge but still close to college. Rooms here are either 'riverside' or 'plainside' - those that are riverside enjoy views of, well, the river but don't have sinks whereas the rooms on the 'plainside' get sinks but worse views. Oh, it's worth saying that you don't get to choose which room you get - it's all allocated automatically (and, as I understand, randomly - although in past years they have grouped people by subject, they haven't done this recently).
The other 25% get put in the 'high-street houses' - which are 62 High Street, 71 High Street and Longwall Annexe.
62 High Street is wonderful and very sociably laid-out with actual corridor space for parties and such although the building's various staircases (and trapdoor!) are somewhat reminiscent of Escher. The rooms vary a little in size but are all quite reasonable and some are very large indeed. 62 also has a garden which is quite the most amazing and wonderful place in Summer - last year's inhabitants bought a paddling pool for the place and had a good number of wonderful barbecues in it, as well as spending hours 'revising' in the sun. The place has one kitchen and I think two showers, which can occasionally get a bit crowded. I lived in 71 High Street, which tends to be less sociable as the rooms are laid out identically on three floors, lacking the idiosyncratic charm of 62's layout.
71 is a house of unjust room size as on each floor, there are 2 rooms which are massive and wonderful (high ceilings, wonderful views, great big windows, period fireplaces - albeit now boarded-up) but also 2 rooms which are amongst the smallest in the college accomodation. Needless to say, I was in one of the small ones... The large rooms tend to go to musicians as they are equipped with electronic pianos (result!) but some non-musicians get them too... three lucky people in my year... 71 has 2 reasonably-sized kitchens and a bathroom w/ shower on each floor (i.e. shared between 4 people). This is good.
Longwall Annexe tends to be the quietest of the houses, partially as some second years (often music students or choral scholars) live there, giving the place something of a reverentially sepulchral ambience... in that not a great deal of socialising goes on there. However, the rooms are wonderful and many are 'sets' - i.e. two rooms: one bedroom and one study/living room, which allows people to separate work and sleep/play (!)
Accomodation costs a flat rate of £14.90/night (i.e. no matter what size your room is) - or at least it did last year; I think it may rise this year. College provides accomodation for all years of your course (even 4 for science subjects and other 4-year types) and it gets progressively better and some of the rooms are breathtakingly wonderful.
Hmm... that's about all on accomodation. What else can I say? Magdalen's very friendly, quite a lot of socialising goes on between the years, the food is reasonable and very good value in Hall although there are plentiful kitchens, some of which are very good (in the 2nd year and 3rd year accom.) Freshers' Week is, of course, awesome - lots of fun things laid on along with plenty of time to get to know people in your year and in others - you may be set a little piece of introductory work but probably won't start anything until 1st Week. You'll have 2 college parents who'll basically look out for you a bit and buy you drinks and take you out for a meal at some point - one of these will be doing your subject so you should be able to ask them questions/steal their past essays. You'll probably be hearing from them soon if you're coming up in October.
Right - if any of you have any questions, then feel free to ask - might take a little time to respond but hey, I'll do my best. There's probably lots I've forgotten so just ask if anything's unclear or just plain stupid.