Information for Oxford freshers


in Internet matters, Oxford

Quite a number of people (mostly Canadians) have been contacting me recently with questions about Oxford. In an effort to aid them, I am working on a new page on the wiki:

General information about Oxford

The aim is to express – in a concise form – some of the things I have learned about Oxford as a place and as a school. It includes fairly brief sections on funding, accomodation, the city, and Wadham College. Information on my specific program (the M.Phil in International Relations) and on my thesis can be found through this wiki page.

Those with comments about the content of the page – or suggestions about things to add – should feel encouraged to leave comments on this blog post.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

. April 10, 2008 at 12:48 pm

Many Scientists Using Performance Enhancing Drugs

docinthemachine is one of several readers to send word of a new poll published in Nature showing unprecedented levels of cognitive performance-enhancing drug abuse by top academic scientists. The poll, conducted among subscribers to Nature, surveyed 1,400 scientists from 60 nations (70% from the US). 20% reported using performance-enhancing drugs. Among the drug-using population, 62% used Ritalin, 44% used Provigil, and 15% used beta-blockers like Inderal. Frequency of use was evenly divided among those who used drugs daily, weekly, monthly, and once a year. All such use without a prescription is illegal.

. April 14, 2008 at 11:42 am

Journeys | Oxford, England

A Pub Crawl Through the Centuries

. April 14, 2008 at 11:42 am

“In Oxford, which has some pubs — like the Bear, on Blue Boar Lane, and the Mitre, on the High Street — that date back to the 1200’s, many of the names echo the Middle Ages. The White Hart (a stag, Richard II’s heraldic emblem), the Kings Arms (named for James I, during whose reign neighboring Wadham College was founded), The Bear, the Wheatsheaf: all are names that call up a past of knights, farms and forests. “

. April 14, 2008 at 11:44 am

“The Rose & Crown is an ideal pub. Half a mile north of the city center, it’s only 140 years old, but the three small, wood-paneled rooms and the affable, eloquent host make it a home away from home. It also keeps the best pint of Old Hooky in town. Brewed about 20 miles away at Hook Norton, said to be the country’s last “steam brewery” (i.e., very old-fashioned), it’s a legend in the annals of real ale, a vessel of hazel clarity, redolent of harvest stubble lit by an evening sun, of woods drenched in rain, of dewy meadows at dawn, of cattle in dells, of Thomas Hardy and sandy-gray churches nestled in the nook of sheep-studded hills. If this isn’t the drinkable essence of England, nothing is.

The Kings Arms is a linchpin of Oxford life. Situated at a junction in the heart of the city, it has spacious, airy front rooms, and at the rear three or four small rooms, all thick with honey-colored wood and irregular in shape. It was founded in the early 17th century when adjacent Wadham College was being built (the landlord presumably hoping for trade with the masons). It used to be host to bare-knuckle and cudgel fights, almost to the death, in its courtyard.

The Bear, tucked down Blue Boar Lane at the back of Christ Church, has only two tiny wood rooms, which date from 1242. They are covered, wall and ceiling, with picture frames containing short pieces of ties. Ties of clubs, regiments, schools — the Royal Gloucester Hussars, the Imperial Yeomanry, the Punjab Frontier Force, Lloyd’s of London Croquet Club — telling of an older, more powerful, more sedate England. Croquet, beer, cricket, empire and P G. Wodehouse: a snip off your tie, and you’ll get a free pint.

The small Eagle and Child on the broad boulevard of St. Giles’ was for decades distinguished mostly by the coziness of its nooks, and by the fact that — like its counterpart across the road, the Lamb & Flag, where Graham Greene liked to drink — it has long been owned by St. John’s, a college of spectacular wealth. But in the last few years, since the “Lord of the Rings” movies, it has become a celebrity among pubs. It was here that the Inklings (Tolkien, C. S. Lewis and others) would meet of a Tuesday to drink, talk and smoke.”

Karina January 15, 2009 at 12:34 pm

I am a “fresher” to Oxfordshire.
see also: from Vancouver

Dearest friend,

What is there to do in oxford other than drink, talk, and smoke?
Any insider information would be excellent. I have been looking for DIY sites for oxford, or any kind of group that is interested in art, music, craft, alternative…just alternative period.
Oxford thus far has been a bit of a wasteland full of shops yet nothing to do, no community builders.
I am not missing the tight pant, flannel-shirt, in a band or ten, ten speed riding or fixed gear vegan hipster yet…but sweet shit it is getting close.

If you know of any sweet little places where people would be into DIY projects, art, and soup
I would protect that information like gold and use it only for the purposes of good

ha, this is ridiculous
hope you are doing swell

Milan January 15, 2009 at 1:45 pm


Have you taken a look at the Cowley Road? It is one of Oxford’s more colourful neighbourhoods. Jericho is another area that has more character than the centre of town. There is a theatre there that shows arty and foreign films.

Some other things to try:

  • Attend Evensong at some of the college chapels. Even if you aren’t religious, it is a good way to experience some culture and architecture. Merton College chapel is one of my favourites.
  • Have a look at the botanical gardens near Magdalen College. The greenhouses are especially interesting.
  • Visit the Pitt Rivers and Natural History Museums. They are especially good on the evening when they are specially lit up and have various types of performances in them.
  • Try the Vault and Gardens restaurant, located on the south side of Radcliffe Square.
  • Get permission to read in the wonderful (and usually nearly empty) Codrington Library in All Souls College
  • Take a look at the small art gallery inside Green College

I will post more as I think of them.

Milan January 15, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Some more ideas:

  • While they may not match your interests, both the Oxford University Walking Club and the Strategic Studies Group are very good. The former does trips throughout England, Scotland, and Wales. The latter has weekly seminars and discussions at All Souls College.
  • There are some community garden sites that you could consider getting a plot in.
  • Get a bike and cycle in the countryside. Following the canals can be very pretty. For something more ambitious, consider riding to Woodstock.
  • Look into events like the writer’s festival.

Aside from photography, I don’t do much that would qualify as ‘DIY,’ so I may not be the best person to ask about that.

Hopefully, some other blog readers from Oxford will chime in with ideas of their own.

Antonia January 16, 2009 at 1:10 pm

I don’t have much time now but has non-University events, gigs etc where you can meet interesting people if you pick the right thing. There are various various jazz and folk things pop up, as well as odd gigs of all sorts. I like the regular (decade old) Catweazle open mike thing now in East Oxford, though I rarely get to go. has various other events if you’re a student and missed the Freshers Fair of University Clubs or got bewildered or swamped by Yahs.

Cinema wise I’ve always been fond of the somewhat scuzzy UPP – the Phoenix is occasionally more mainstream than it ought to be but still has some good showings and occasional gigs in the upstairs bar.
I’m not getting out much these days but I’ll think on it.

Antonia January 16, 2009 at 1:28 pm

Check out the Oxford Fringe Festival I know some of the organisers and supporters are enthusiastic crafters.

BTW Cowley Road is in part getting progressively less colourful but its probably still worth going to the (vegetarian) Magic Cafe (Magdalen Rd between Cowley and Iffley Roads) to look at their notice board for activities etc and the alternative book shop next door (if still active) is a hive of all sorts of stuff. Near the bus station in Gloucester Green there’s a small art gallery that’s a centre for local work.

If desperate, you can always try to start something yourself.

From a gig I ran into the hyperactive promoter Beth who organized, among other things a women rock bands night (Vagrock) and I don’t know if the Beard Museum is still going (I think not) but Nightshift free magazine has various gig etc info.

Antonia January 23, 2009 at 7:59 am

Forgot to mention the Jam Factory’s activities (Hollybush Row off park end street near the train station). It has or had a Tuesday evening knitting group, meeting at 6pm, if that’s crafty enough for you.
Facebook event on 9 February
I don’t know if the Oxford University Open Art Exhibition is still using the email address.

Milan January 23, 2009 at 12:18 pm


Thanks a lot for the suggestions.

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