Life / university

Fifth Week Blues | Uni Diaries

So there’s this thing at Oxford…

fifth-week-blues

Fifth Week Blues is notorious, both at Oxford and at Cambridge, but what exactly is it?

If you didn’t know already, the University of Oxford has only eight-week terms which means that, in effect, I’m actually only at university for twenty-four weeks of the year(!). This differs significantly from pretty much every other university in the UK (correct me if I’m wrong) and, what’s more, we also lack a Reading Week. Because of this, and because of the nature of Oxford’s courses, Fifth Week is when things begin to go downhill… We’re over halfway through the term but work has seriously started to pile up and sleep deprivation has seriously started to hit; we’re so close to the end of the term but we’re simultaneously so far.

“Fifth Week Blues” has been recognised by the university and by colleges as the week, or period of time, that the most students start to feel down and unhappy. We’re allowed to be and almost expected to be.

Fifth Week Blues College Events

As I mentioned above, the university (and students) all acknowledge what happens during Fifth Week, meaning that the Welfare team in college provide fun activities for the week to keep your mind off any stress and to try and just make everyone feel happy/comfortable. We had things organised such as a trip to G&D’s (an amazing ice-cream parlour), which I went to, pottery brunch, board games, cocktails trip, cupcakes and colouring, a movie night and a pub quiz! The Welfare Reps did a fab job this week (two second year students) and we also had the New College Cookie-Fairy post compliments to others on their Facebook page from students sent in anonymously.

Did I get Fifth Week Blues?

If anything, I think I got Fourth Week “Blues” because I actually happened to feel a lot worse about everything during Fourth Week rather than Fifth Week – strange, huh? I remember feeling incredibly behind with work and trying not to stress out about it but I ended up having several really late nights and I didn’t even go out clubbing that whole week! Essentially, I didn’t do as much work as I should have during Fourth Week (I left my tutorial work until the weekend and I’d usually begin it by Thursday!) and rehearsals for Drama Cuppers seemed to be eating away all of my time. What I found with Fifth Week however is not that I was emotionally upset and down, but rather that the exhaustion had really, really hit me. I started off Fifth Week by pulling an all-nighter to get all of my work done (I had also not been feeling too well during Fourth Week, hence why work had piled up) followed by staying up until 4:30am on the Tuesday for the Presidential Elections (let’s not even go there). So you can imagine how I must have been feeling for the rest of the week: absolutely shattered.

During Fifth Week I also took on quite a lot and got involved with different things which also took my attention away from work (thus making me feel worse to add to the exhaustion). I attended the CRAE (Campaign for Racial Awareness & Equality) Pizza Social where I met so many other coloured students from other colleges and it was here that I heard about their Committee Elections – I ran for Publicity Officer a few days ago and I’m actually on board with the campaign now, eek! I volunteered for more Access work on Tuesday, helping out at a workshop for Year 11s followed by giving a tour of college. Both performances for Drama Cuppers were on the Thursday (it was quite a relief when they were over as I found myself having way more time – though also sad because the rehearsals were such fun) and then I went to a BME meal at Nando’s which was lovely. I then had RAG Ball on the Friday (watch out for a post!) so Fifth Week was pretty jam-packed and full of too many naps and not enough work!

I think that Fifth Week Blues is a self-fulfilling prophecy and it is partly psychological, but work really does begin to pile up and lack of sleep definitely starts to catch up on you. The fact that Oxford has a specific name for this time of term just means that it’s blown massively out of proportion – maybe some people really did feel awful but I know that I was expecting to feel lot worse than I did.


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Viola xo

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10 thoughts on “Fifth Week Blues | Uni Diaries

  1. Pingback: Oxford Balls: Union Ball and RAG Ball | Uni Diaries | A Piece of Viola

  2. Congratulations on getting onto the committee! It’s really sweet that the uni recognises fifth week blues as a problem and actually do something about it! It sounds like you are super busy all the time but that’s definitely better than only focusing on the work and not doing anything else! Can’t wait to check out your post about the RAG ball! xx

  3. This definitely a thing at every university. I went to a university that has a break in the middle of the semester for two weeks, so it is VERY well timed. I think it is somewhere 5-7 weeks of work then two weeks off then 5-7 weeks of work before a proper mid-year/exam break. My university went for three months, but the holidays are often shuffled around major events (Rugby World Cup/Easter, for example) so the terms can be weird sometimes. I would ALWAYS hit the wall before semester break came.

    It sounds like Oxford is much more organised when it comes to supporting students, though. I mean, a trip to an ice-cream parlour? REALLY?! However, it might be due to the fact that I was a distance student and not that interested in campus life. I could be completely oblivious to what my campus had to offer haha. It sounds like you’re doing a crazy amount of things though, so I’m not surprised either! You are 100% doing more in your first semester than I EVER did my whole time at university. Go you!

    • Your university break sounds like it’s well-needed, I wish we had one in a way! It’s got to Seventh Week and I just want the academic work to be over already; I really don’t think my brain can handle much more Latin at this point! Aw thank you Kendel x

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