University (or Univ) was the first Oxford college, and hence the first in England, hence it's name. This doesn't mean it's stuck in the past, however, it just means it has some really pretty buildings and a great place in central Oxford, as well as a very interesting college archivist! Many colleges also claim this title, but Univ is the 'friendliest college' - it's a medium sized college but not on giant spread out grounds, meaning there's a really nice community feel to it and you can often see other Univites out and about. Everyone has different priorities in colleges and it's debatable how different they really are, but the people are what makes it for me and I have always felt safe within the college.
Our hall is quite old so also quite pretty, and some of the portraits looking down at you can be quite eye catching. We have great long benches instead of chairs and 3 long communal tables to use. It's always quite relaxed in there, and in my first year I always found it nice to break my day up by going to halls for dinner, even if I wasn't eating, to see friends and take a breather. There's quite a communal atmosphere and the hall has some of my fondest memories. It's also a chance to speak to people you may not see otherwise, and I found it a really great way to make friends at the beginning of first year, as you could sit next to anyone and start a conversation. Food wise, there's normally one or two options to choose from for dinner, and a vegetarian version also, although our hall and accomodation reps are working to widen this! Univ doesn't have too many formals, last year it was only one a year, so that means that when they do happen everyone values and enjoys them - the Christmas formal is hard to get into but absolutely incredible!
A big part of the reason I applied to Univ was their accomodation system. They have random ballot, which means you're randomly given a room based on chance. Going to a place like Oxford I was apprehensive about a paid tiered system like most other unis, and I'd heard rumors some colleges gave rooms based on grades (no idea how true this is!). So the idea that you would just be given a random room, not based on intelligence or wealth really appealed as someone from a non traditional working class background. This does mean there is a great variation of rooms available at Univ, with some rooms twice the size of others. It's luck of the draw and some people arent going to be happy with what they have, but I also know so many people are, so it depends on what you want from accommodation. Currently, Univ offers on site accomodation for your first year and last exam year of undergrad. It's very handy as Univ is a very central college and close to a lot of departments and libraries, so it can really dip you into everything you need to know safely. It's also right next to the exam schools, so there's no long anxiety fuelled walk to exams! At the moment second year is housed off site in an annex owned by the college about a half hour walk away from the centre. I'm looking forward to it because you finally get to chose who you're living with, and even if it is further away from the centre it isn't a long cycle ride and it has more facilities.
Contrary to popular belief, there's a HUGE extra curricular life at Oxford, and especially Univ! Univ has multiple sports teams like football, rugby, and rounders, and the college also has its own squash courts! Univ's rowing team is particularly strong (with our women just winning best on the river) and incredibly welcoming to people who have never rowed before too. But if you're not into sports, there's still plenty of other things. There's board games and poker societies, a new bake off society, feminist society and multiple political societies - and if there isn't something that interests you, you can always easily start your own! Because Univ is quite central, it will never be too far to travel to any uni wide societies either. It may not be unique, but Univ does hold a ball every two years that are amazing, and also is very close to Magdalen bridge for may day, an Oxford celebration!
In terms of welfare, Univ always has two welfare officers that are generally very engaged in the committee and hence the students - they plan welfare week and events and also host a welfare tea every week with the finest selection of snacks and support on offer. Welfare officers often look out for issues that could be welfare concerns and create events, but there are also peer support trained students who are those you can go to if you want to talk about things with anyone, and are normally a range across under graduate and post graduate so you can talk to a variety of people. While not strictly part of the welfare team, there are also the liberation reps (RAEM, LGBT+, class, disabilities, international) who would be talked to if any issues came up that were more related to being part of a non traditional Oxford background. Univ is also incredibly friendly and college parents can play a large part in your life, and can also be a good person within the college you can talk to that could understand your struggles. University is hard and scary and full of changes but there are provisions and people there to look out for you!
Univ does have a cellar bar that is open around half the week, and can be a nice place to go to hang out, and has a few pool tables for tournaments. Often open mics (Kareoke) is held in the bars and are quite popular. Our entz reps organise bops (in college and out in clubs) and are working on currently having a 'bip' for every 'bop' - basically a non drinking event for every bop. Univ doesn't have a big drinking culture (I do drink but went to more sober events at Freshers because they seemed fun), but 'bips' are a nice addition to make sure everyone can be included in the fun, even when you never have to drink at bops. For international students we have events such as Chinese new year's celebration and Diwali celebrations, Pimm's events, and bring a dish from your home country nights. There are 6 liberation reps and they often put on 2 events a term, and hence there's plenty to go to. This is on top of events put on by societies and hence I never feel like there isn't anything to do in college! Balls are also a lot of fun, Univ having one every two years - our 2022 ball had dodgems, Lazer tag, international food, a silent disco! It also is one of the more moderately priced balls, and I would absolutely recommend saving to go to one!
Univ is one of the friendliest colleges and that's one of the reasons I love it. Everyone gets along and people are always up for a bit of fun.
Univ is a place full of support – everyone is incredibly welcoming and down to earth, while perks like all rooms having a fridge make it a great place to live.
I love our chapel choir! The standard is great without being exclusive or competitive and some of my closest friends and best memories come from being part of it.
Univ is quite a fun place to be, it has a good balance between work and fun as we hold loads of social events each term. These range from themed bops, to crafts sessions and even yoga. Our multiple libraries are open 24hours which is super convenient for when you’re having an essay crisis or working on a problem sheet! On site accommodation can vary in size but generally I’d say Univ has some of the best rooms!
One of my favourite things about Univ is its fair approach to accommodation and events - our accommodation allocation is decided using random ballots throughout our degrees, meaning it's not possible to pay for a nicer room. While rooms do of course vary, there are no drastic differences in accommodation and in my opinion, this is the best system of allocating rooms fairly. A similar system has been in use recently to allocate places at formal hall, with those who feel they would normally be restricting from attending formals due to the cost given priority access when there are free formal meals provided