The biggest question on most prospective applicants minds is: which college should I apply to? There is no correct answer to this question and there is no point trying to “beat the system” by applying to what you think is a less popular college (more tips on how to choose an Oxford college here). Christ Church is one of the most famous (and definitely most touristy) colleges at Oxford but I’m guessing most people don’t know much about it apart from the fact that it’s the “Harry Potter” college. After four lovely years at Christ Church, I thought I’d share some of the other perks of attending this college that you won’t find out until you get here.
I thought I’d start with the most important. When I arrived at Christ Church we used to receive a free cake every term. That’s three free cakes a year. Unfortunately, it has now been reduced to one free cake per year but free cake is still free cake so you can’t complain really. All you have to do is email the cake rep with your choice of cake (yes, we have a cake rep) and within a week your selected cake will appear in your pigeon hole. Magic.
Ok so this is sort of a lie because since a certain newsworthy incident involving a flamethrower a couple of years ago, Christ Church bops are no longer completely free for students. There is now a charge of £1 for 3 drinks at bops but that’s hardly going to break the bank. Plus, knowing just how much vodka goes into each and every one of those drinks (about 80% vodka, 20% mixer), you can’t complain. It’s completely and utterly disgusting but you’ll grow to love it if you end up at Oxford.
*Bops are fancy dress parties that occur twice a term at Christ Church. They’re a large part of life at Oxford University and every college will hold their own throughout the term.
A Beautiful (and Enormous) Library
One of my absolute favourite parts of Christ Church is the library. The building is absolutely gigantic and it’s full of books both old and new. On the lower levels you’ll find the East and the West Wing, one of which has a dark, traditional feel whilst the other is white, bright and airy. Upstairs you’ll find ancient books dating back centuries. You’re not allowed to access these books without special permission and if you step an inch too close to them you’ll set an alarm off. The upper floor isn’t used much but when you’re in your final year, you can go up there to study in the peace and quiet.
The library is both large and well stocked. For some subjects, such as Classics, you’ll rarely have to leave ChCh library to find the books you need for your essays. For others, you may have to find some at your faculty libraries but a large number will be at Christ Church. What’s great is that as of last year, they’ve also started stocking up on lots of the latest fiction reads so you’ll find all the nominees for the Man Booker prize, Bailey’s Prize etc. on the shelves too! Most colleges don’t have a general fiction section so this is really cool.
Dine in the Harry Potter Hall EVERY Night
If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll probably know that one of my main reasons for applying to Christ Church is that numerous Harry Potter film scenes were shot here. I am a HUGE Potter fan so I have no shame in admitting this. One of the most magical parts of going to Christ Church is that every evening you climb the steps (used in the Harry Potter films) to get to the Hall (which the Great Hall is modelled on). I basically spent the four years of my degree pretending that I was a Hogwarts student and I loved every second of it.
Fun story: To celebrate Halloween in 2016, Christ Church hosted a Harry Potter dinner for charity. We all dressed up as witches and wizards and the hall was decorated to be more festive. Dumbledore gave us the welcome speech before we began the feast and at the end, Quirrel ran in screaming “Troll in the Dungeon”. Hands down one of my favourite ChCh memories EVER.
Ok so the food at Christ Church is nothing to shout about. I’d say the quality of food is definitely something that Christ Church could improve on in comparison to other colleges, but they more than make up for this with super low, student-friendly prices. Once you’re on the meal plan, you’re signed up for a three course dinner each evening for only £146 per term. With 8 week terms, that works out at roughly £2.50 per meal. That’s right, £2.50 for a three course meal. In the Harry Potter Hall. Every night.
A huge perk of attending Christ Church is that you’re guaranteed accommodation for all three or four years of your degree. During that time, the option of living in a “Peck Set” is made available to you if you’re lucky enough to rank highly in the room ballot. Unfortunately, I was not. I was placed at number 82. Fortunately, one of my best friends was ranked number 6 in the ballot and he pulled me up the ballot, landing us both one of the best Peck Sets in college. A Peck Set consists of three rooms: one living room and two bedrooms. The bedrooms contain a sink, a bed, a wardrobe etc. and in the living room there are at least two large sofas, two large desks and a fridge.
The great thing about Peck Sets is that each and every one is slightly different. Some still have dark mahogany walls, others have been painted white. Some have old fireplaces, large bookshelves, decorative mirrors and more. My Peck Set was definitely the grandest accommodation I’ll ever live in in my life and as all students at Christ Church pay the same amount for accommodation no matter which block you get put in, it’s a real bargain!
If you look at the picture below, our room can be found behind the two long windows on the far left. Our room was straight opposite the library which is a blessing at Christ Church because the library is so god damn beautiful.
Whilst many applicants who come from poorer backgrounds are put off applying to the grander, richer colleges because they assume they’re full of “posh” people, what they often don’t realise is that these are the colleges with the most resources and grants to help people. Christ Church has many generous grants and also offers rewards based on great exam results. There are travel grants, sports grants, yearly bonuses for scholars and more. Being a literature student, my favourite has to be the book grant which gives you £240 to spend during your time at university.
It’s also worth noting that a new initiative has just come into place at Christ Church as they try to broaden diversity at the college. Four new scholarships have just been announced to help those from disadvantaged backgrounds as well as summer bursaries to help these children carry out internships. There will also be new subsidies for accommodation and food, making living at Christ Church (which is already cheaper than at many other colleges), even cheaper. Find out more about these initiatives here.
Christ Church has some magnificent architecture but what is possibly even more lovely are the Meadows just outside and the Masters Gardens inside. The Meadows will lead you down to the boathouses and the river where rowing competitions occur or you can do a lap round the whole thing and end up back at Christ Church. When you’re walking around the Meadows it’s easy to forget that you’re in the middle of a city so it’s lovely to have this peaceful haven right outside your door!
There are also a number of smaller gardens inside Christ Church which are open to the students during the summer. Here, you can play croquet with your friends, kick a ball around, read a book, sunbathe – it’s like your own personal (and very beautiful) park.
Christ Church is located very centrally in Oxford and it’s proximity to Tesco, Pret, itsu, Jericho Coffee Traders etc. is worth noting. My boyfriend went to LMH which is notorious (alongside St Hugh’s) for being incredibly far out of the centre (in Oxford terms that’s still only a 25 minute walk!), and I can’t even begin to explain how frustrating it is when you want to dash to the shops or when you’re coming home from the club at 3am. Oxford is a walking city so I’d highly recommend picking a college that is fairly central so you can get everywhere quickly and easily.
An artisan pizza van, suitably named, Pizza Artisan, stops outside Christ Church every. single. evening. It’s genuinely the best pizza in town and the hour long queues are all the proof you need. These pizzas are hand made and cooked in the van so it’s always fresh and hot when it gets to you. There are loads of different options available and it caters for vegetarians and vegans too!
Side note: there’s also a kebab van for when you get back to college after Parkend at 3am.
So there you have it, 10 good reasons to apply to Christ Church, Oxford. I could make an even longer list but I think I’ve already written quite enough! A couple of other ChCh highlights include: the pet tortoise, the Dean’s dog, the best Oxford balls and the best guest dinners. I absolutely loved my time at Christ Church and would highly recommend applying but at the end of the day college choice is a very personal thing. Check out this post for more tips on how to choose the best college for you. As always, if you have any questions about Christ Church or life at Oxford University, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Find out more about Christ Church on the website here.
For more posts about my time at Oxford University, check out the following: