Yesterday, Balliol College’s exclusive gates were thrown open, to welcome a giddying influx of ORA students from across the globe. Dozens of nationalities poured in throughout the day, dropped off by parents or independently making their way into the heart of the City of Dreaming Spires.
Counsellors were standing by, eager to give the new students the warmest welcome, taking their luggage and showing them to their rooms. Parents keen to see the environment of one of Oxford’s most illustrious colleges had the chance to be shown round, and students, quickly striking up conversations with their new peers, were fast to make friends and examine their welcome packs together. The welcome packs hold an impressively stuffed timetable, a map of the surrounding city, and a goodie bag also containing an Oxford Royale T-shirt: past experience suggests that the shirts will soon be seen across the city!
With tea and cake having been served and enjoyed, and with several students having taken the chance to test their early-week ping-pong skills against new friends, all present headed to the Great Hall, where Stephen Flavin, the Programme Director for ORA in Balliol, gave a warm talk welcoming the students to the Oxford experience.
After this, it was time for parents to say goodbye. Students waved and hugged their parents farewell, and then returned to the Great Hall, that imposing gallery of oak panels and rich oil paintings, for their first dinner in Balliol.
In the evening, ice breaker games were played on the lawn. Two Truths and a Lie was a popular way of getting to know each other, while Ninja, the rather different game of quick thinking and quick movement, was a great deal of fun.
As darkness fell, with a long day of travelling behind them and a lot of new names now in their heads, students headed to bed—tired, but certainly looking forward to the next day.