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Freshers, Friends, and Feuds: The Instagram world of Oxford offer holders

There’s a new Instagram account making waves: @OxfordUniFreshers2020. The account posts submissions from Oxford offer holders, so incoming freshers can introduce themselves and get to know each other.

The page’s first post was only published a week ago, and since then has featured an impressive 315 profiles of offer holders from many different colleges and courses. The account already has over 2000 followers and has an impressive feud going with Cambridge. 

Speaking to Cherwell anonymously, the account admin explained why they set the account up: “There were a lot of other fresher accounts and groups for other universities, and I thought it would be a really good idea to provide a platform for people going to Oxford to get to know each other before term started – to make it a little easier to make friends and also to give people something to do.

“A lot of people have messaged me and said that it’s made the whole process a lot less daunting for them because they’ve been able to form connections with other people on their courses or just people whose interests they share.”

Despite the wholesomeness of the page, it is no surprise that Cambridge has been attempting (unsuccessfully) to outdo the Oxford page. The two accounts have had competitions to see who could become popular.

The Cambridge account (@CambridgeUniversity2020) spoke to Cherwell, commenting that the two accounts had “had quite a bit of rivalry since our accounts started, mainly the race to 1k followers which we won with the help of PaigeY [A Cambridge Youtuber].” There was previously a competition to reach 500 followers, which Oxford also sadly lost.

Oxford’s forfeit for not hitting 1000 followers first was to post this TikTok on their account.

However, Oxford has since performed better, beating Cambridge to 2000 followers. When asked for comment on the Oxford account’s superiority over the Cambridge page, the Oxford admin asserted: “All you Cambridge freshers must be rethinking your choices now – even with PaigeY helping you, we have come out on top.”

After this, the Cambridge account admin commented that “our competitions have been quite amicable” and that they had nothing but respect for Oxford. Overall, the rivalry is friendly, with both accounts helping to promote the Oxbridge Varsity trip.

Speaking to Cherwell, many Oxford freshers have found the account a really positive and humanising first experience of their university careers.

Verney, who has an offer to study French and Linguistics at Worcester, told Cherwell: “Before I started genuinely considering applying to Oxford,  I never thought of its students as being a student in the same way that I am – I always thought they were so much better and smarter than me. Accounts like the freshers page do a great job of showing that we’re all just people who love our subjects.”

Paul, who has an offer to study Fine Art at Magdalen, said: “The freshers’ account was really nice… it’s a lovely ice breaker if you had any fears and worries about meeting new people.”

Charlotte, who has an offer to study French at Oriel added: “I was definitely struck by how down-to-earth people seemed on the page. There’s certainly a stereotype that I’ve heard people talk about a lot, but it was comforting to me to see such a variety of people and interests.”

Sofie summed up: “I sometimes feel like it is easy to picture Oxford as this highly intellectual and intimidating institution, so it’s quite relieving having the opportunity to meet people beforehand and realise that everyone is in the same boat.”

Cherwell wishes the offer-holders all the best for results day, and hopes to see them in Oxford in October.

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