Oxford slang can be confusing at first, and may seem at times to venture into the realms of Clockwork Orange – you’ll check your ‘pidge’ in the ‘plodge’, and will sign ‘up’ and ‘down’ at the start and end of term. So here’s the third and final part of Cherwell’s invaluable guide to the ins and outs of the unique Oxford dialect – beginning at Q and ending at Z. (Actually, W.)
The manicured lawns inside every college are undoubtedly one of the perks of ‘living-in’. Traversable even by undergraduates (contrary to what we understand is the practice at The Other Place), college quads are a lovely place to read or take your luncheon, especially during Trinity Term, when the weather is fine and most of the quads are converted into croquet pitches. Your student I.D. (known as a ‘bod card’ – a tragic omission from Part One of the Glossary) permits entry to all college precincts, so make a point to get around and explore the available grounds.
If religious tests were still administered at the University, they would be conducted on the river or an ERG (a rowing machine – another tragic omission from Part One), not in a chapel. If you have never rowed before, it’s silly not to try, or at least make sure you catch the Boat Race down the Thames during the Easter Vac.
Short for Radcliffe Camera, this library is one of the few sanctuaries at Oxford wherein tourists are not permitted to worship. (You can’t even take your parents for a tour.) The Rad Cam is divided into the Upper Camera (history) and the Lower Camera (English and Theology). The Lower Camera is a well-known place to ‘be seen’ at Oxford, so be sure to dress your best.
The kind souls who visit your room once or twice each week for cleaning. The expectations for students and scouts vary from college to college (whether the linen or just the bins are changed), but tradition demands the utmost civility in all interactions. Scouts also have keys to your room, so locking the door before… a lie-in, is not as safe as you think.
Try and do most of this during the Vacs, because there is just too much fun to be had during each eight week term. It sounds daunting, but you’ll soon get the hang of it. A survey conducted last year by some sleep researchers at the University disclosed that almost ninety percent of the University is awake after midnight.
Anything branded with your college or the University’s emblems, or those of your Sixth Form, and any corporate swag you may have accumulated in a past life. While just about permissible when actually participating in sporting events, the sporting of stash as mufti (college hoodies count by the way) is a big style no-no. If you must, do try to remember: students attend colleges; tourists visit the University of Oxford; no one goes to Oxford University.
A highlight of the Trinity social calendar, Summer Eights is the college rowing competition in which Blues rowers are permitted to compete for their colleges. Depending on the weather, literally thousands line the banks of the Isis to enjoy the races, Pimms, and good cheer.
The Other Place
Accessible from Oxford via the X5 coach, two trains and a short underground trip, or a magic carpet. For the record, we think Cambridge is a lovely place to visit.
The primary rowing competition during Hilary Term differs from Summer Eights in two respects: Blues rowers are not permitted to compete for their colleges, and the weather is generally brutal. The unfortunate name derives from the race being historically restricted to the second boats of colleges, which of course are slower than the first boats.
Oxford’s summer term. Social commitments abound, even for Finalists, who start to be released from their library prisons about sixth week. (Be sure to fete your friends as they emerge triumphant onto Merton Street, at the rear entrance to Examination Schools.) Croquet, cricket, punting, and Pimms, Trinity Term flips past like so many Oxford postcards. Try to attend at least one ball…
The University’s debating society, open only to members (of the Union, not the University), and an inexhaustible source of tabloid-style journalism. The pageantry, bluster, and folly associated with the Union, its executive, and especially its hacks, is probably worth the price of admission (a few hundred pounds for a lifetime membership), but there is also the chance to see excellent speakers, and to access one of the most reliably empty libraries in the University. At least take advantage of the free access period during Michaelmas.
The eight week terms at Oxford are interrupted by two six week vacations (the ‘short vacs’) and one three month vacation (the ‘long vac’). Ostensibly for catching-up on all the books you didn’t read during term, and reading ahead for next term, rest assured that you can still do some traveling and visit with your friends. If you’re living-in this year, you will have to vacate your rooms, which is annoying, but use the opportunity to cycle-through your closet, replacing cotton and wool with linen, long skirts with short skirts, etc.
A vile, sticky poison served at Park End, usually on some kind of deal. The cheap price guarantees that the bartender will spill almost no alcohol into these cups of sugar water, so make sure you buy as many as you can carry, which, apparently, is at least four.
Everyone knows, so no need to mention during Freshers’ Week or any other time until he appears on your reading list.
The bulk of preparation for Finals happens in a student’s final year, and for Prelims, in the dying weeks of Hilary or Trinity, depending on your degree. The Cherwell is not recommending this strategy – Tutors, please do not send us angry emails – we are merely suggesting that it’s OK to join societies, play sport, act, debate, and even party. If you take our advice about Sleep and don’t slack-off entirely on the Vacs, you will be fine.