You were probably beaming with pride after receiving the letter confirming that you made it to one of the most competitive universities in the world. It is normal to feel overwhelmed right after, especially if you are still working or finishing another degree. While exciting times are coming ahead, there are probably still a lot of uncertainties surrounding where you will live, how are you going to fund your studies, what bank you’re going to use, what on earth is a College, a CAS letter, a BRP and other confusing acronyms you have never seen before. For now, let’s take it one step at a time.
The letter you have received from Oxford is a conditional offer, meaning that the university needs certain documents from you, like the physical copy of your transcripts, proof of English language proficiency, supporting documents and a financial statement that you should probably not worry about until you have heard back from any scholarships or funding opportunities you have applied for. Try making a checklist with all the things you can post to the university within the next month, and get the documents ready in advance.
You will soon receive a College membership, even if you did not apply to a particular College in your application. It is normal to be confused about the collegiate system, and you will probably fully understand it until you arrive in Oxford. A College can offer a number of things: from subsidised meals, libraries, research funds to accommodation, sports facilities, social and welfare activities. As a graduate student, you can choose how involved you want to be with your College. When you receive the College membership email, you will be asked to fill in a form that should be sent by post in order to complete your registration and issue your University ID card (also known as Bod Card). The email will also specify if your College has available accommodation onsite or offsite, which can allow you to start thinking of the area of Oxford where you want to look for accommodation.
Regarding your visa, you should wait until the University sends you a Certificate of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) letter, which will be issued once you meet all the conditions stipulated by your offer, which includes the financial statement. Don’t rush, you can only apply for your visa 3 months prior to the start date of your course, and not before. The university will also send useful guides that will help you with your visa application when the time comes near.
There are three types of accommodation available at Oxford
College accommodation: your college can offer either onsite or offsite accommodation. If you opt for this option, rent will be paid monthly to your college.
University accommodation: You can apply to the Graduate Accommodation Office and be added to a waitlist here: http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/graduateaccommodation/. Your rent will be therefore paid directly to the Graduate Accommodation Office.
Private accommodation: If you know a group of friends, or you are arriving in Oxford with your family or partner, private accommodation is a good option to get a flat or a house. You will have to make monthly or weekly payments to your landlord, and rates usually do not include utilities.
Tip: by now you already know your department, and where all your classes will be taking place. Go on Google Maps and calculate the routes from your college/university accommodation to your department. Try to live within 10-20-minute walk from your department, or get ready to buy a bike.
Oxford is a small city, and the best way to commute is either walking or by bicycle. Buses and cabs are a bit pricey and impractical. Oxford is also very connected, and you can get to London in less than an hour by train, or take one of the coaches (the OxfordTube or the X90) that depart to London every 15 minutes. You can also take trains or coaches to different Ariports or cities within the UK.
Tip: book your tickets in advance through the Trainline App for great prices. Get a student Railcard for 30 pounds a year to enjoy 1/3 off all your train tickets.
Congratulations on making it to Oxford! We are looking forward to welcoming you at the Mexican Society!