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    Hi, I got an unconditional offer from St Catz this January, which I'm obviously hugely excited about, but I'm really scared about going to uni. To explain why I'm going to have to go into my life story a bit so feel free to ignore this thread if you can't be bothered with that.

    I first went to uni at UCL in September 2014, and absolutely hated it - I enjoyed my subject but I couldn't get used to the lack of scheduling: I had 7 contact hours a week, and so subsequently I didn't really get to know many people on my course. My halls were a 30 minute walk from the main campus and only had 4 freshers doing my subject out of 500 living there, and my flatmates were either never in the flat or hid in their rooms all the time. I gradually became more and more depressed by how difficult I was finding it to make friends, living in a horrid part of London, and being alone pretty much all the time. I left in February of my first year, and was diagnosed with depression and anxiety - by that stage I had become too nervous even to walk down a street, let alone go to lectures etc., and I'd stopped eating because I was too scared to go out and buy food. I've now spent just over a year in therapy and I'm feeling a lot better, but I'm so frightened that the whole process will just repeat itself when I come to Oxford and I'll end up miserable and being forced to leave uni again.

    Aside from all that, I have pretty bad social anxiety. I'm usually alright when I know one or two people in a large group, but a mass of people I've never met before is my idea of hell. I know other people will be nervous during freshers, and that it will all probably be fine once I've got to know a few people, but the initial step absolutely terrifies me. Before UCL I was at a boarding school, which I loved, so I'm not really worried about leaving home or living with other people. It's the difficulty of making friends and my anxiety during social situations that I'm more worried about. I realise I should probably have made more effort at UCL but equally this kind of thing is just naturally difficult for me.

    So really my question is what's freshers like at Catz? Is it structured (x event at x time, y event at y time), or are freshers just left to their own devices? What's the college like socially? And does anyone have any advice for me? I'd really appreciate the help. Because I'm in the weird position of having an unconditional offer, I haven't been sent much information by the college or the uni - I imagine they send it in August. Which is fine but the lack of information is making me worry.

    Congrats to anyone who made it to the end of that. I don't really know if I've posted this in the right place but I'm just gonna go for it. Thanks in advance for replies.
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    (Original post by anonymous276)
    D
    So I don't have any St. Catz specific advice but until someone replies who does, I'll give my opinion. Firstly regarding Freshers, I think it generally is pretty structured. At my college, we were given a timetable with all the events and whilst there may have been some spontaneous events, a lot of it did seem to be planned. You can take part in as little or as much as you want.

    Secondly, I think one of the big advantages of Oxford (particularly a big, new college like St. Catz) is that you don't really need to worry about accommodation or self-catering any more (assuming you're an undergraduate) since it's all provided to you by your college, which is a big help. That would also have been a major cause of stress for me if I wasn't here.
    Oxford is fundamentally a high-stress environment but from the sound of things your main problem is with the social side of things so hopefully that won't be a huge issue. The disability advisory service is also, at least in my experience, great so there is plenty of help you can access there.
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    I would hope it's unlikely that your UCL experience would be repeated at Oxford! Depending on your subject, you'd probably have more contact hours being at Oxford, you'd almost certainly be living with other people in your year group, and Oxford is a lot smaller and less crowded than London (I say this as a native Londoner). It's got a very different feel to it.

    In terms of social anxiety, my recommendations would be:

    - take a door wedge and keep your door wedged open (unless you're undressing or not actually in the room, obviously!) in the first few days of uni. This is a tip I read in a newspaper before I started at Oxford in 2007 and it worked well for me. Having your door open means that people know you're in your room and they'll feel more encouraged/inclined to pop by to say hello/to borrow something off you. That way you'll slowly get an idea of who you are living with.

    - speak to as many people as you can in Freshers' Week. Common starter questions for conversation are as simple as "where have you travelled from today?" if it's the first day, to "what subject are you reading?" Remember that the big schools like Eton and Westminster aside, most sixth forms in the UK are unlikely to have more than one student or two students maximum from the same school in the same college. So even if some people SEEM more confident than you, likeliness is that they don't know anyone else in the college either!

    - in August you will be informed who your college parents are. Make contact with them sooner rather than later and ask them any questions you may have, however small or silly they may seem

    - time and money permitting, maybe you could go to Oxford and visit St Catz before term starts to get a good feel for the place and trace your route to your faculty and the libraries, etc. My anxiety is more manageable the more familiar I am with new-ish places

    FWIW, whilst I was not at Catz, my understanding is that their bops (college parties for lack of a better term) were pretty awesome :awesome:
 
 
 
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