Freshers week is essentially seven days (or more) of drinking, socialising, lie-in’s and settling in. It is a chaotic time of the year and many students view it as daunting, scary, exciting and extremely tiring.
I remember this time last year how I was feeling and to be honest, it was a combination of being intrigued and terrified, but mainly the latter. I was looking forward to meeting new people, going out every night without my Mum nagging on at me and fending for myself for the first time as a ‘proper’ adult. I quickly realised that I was far from an adult and that university wasn’t all what it was cracked up to be. Going out every night exhausted me, I cried every single day and I ended up going home after just six days away (slightly pathetic one might argue, I would claim it was much needed).
Freshers week is busy and crammed full of events. But in order to make the most of the experience, I recommend that you push yourself out of your comfort zone: join a society, go to a club night, play the ‘freebie’ game at the freshers fair but most importantly, speak to people! Speak to everyone, get numbers (but remember to save them under a full name as 21 Sam’s in your contacts list isn’t helpful), Facebook adds, twitter usernames, everything!
Throughout freshers you will collect a significant amount of numbers, Facebook adds and be asked the question “what did you get in your A-Levels?” about a thousand times (unless you did the IB, like me, then people are even more full of questions). You will talk to a lot of people and probably end up attaching yourself to the first person you talk to. I made many friends during freshers week, none of which I am friends with now. Not everyone you meet will be a friend for life, however, those friends that you do make during freshers are the ones that will go to club nights, social events and societies with you. It is from there, you will be able to branch out and make those best friends who will rather quickly become your rock throughout the next year and so on. In my first year, I made enough close friends to fit on two hands. These are people that I know will be concerned if I’m unwell, or if I have a problem, or when I want to talk over class notes, or when I’m bored and want to go window shopping on a Saturday morning in Oxford Street.
My first night at university was arguably the scariest night of my life. I had moved from the quiet life in Cornwall to the hectic rush of London. I had moved into halls with five people that I had never met before and to top it all off, I had to spend the evening socialising in the common room rather than hiding away in my bedroom on the phone to my Mum. Before I went to my halls meet and greet event that night, I remember thinking: “what if I make no friends? what if everyone hates me? what if I’m lonely? what if I miss home? what if I don’t like my course or even worse, London?”. But, that first night was important, as by forcing myself (despite absolutely dreading it) to go down to the common room and drink WKD (for free) all night I was able to break through all those fears and worries.
You should make the most of every minute throughout the first couple of weeks. There will be events linked to societies as well as your subject area happening and on top of all that you will be beginning your first lectures, classes and seminars. Although, perhaps the most important thing to do is to sit down with your flatmates over a cup of tea and biscuits. Knock on their doors, create a Facebook group or WhatsApp chat with everyone in and hang out or study in a communal area, such as the kitchen, to be more social. At first conversations might be awkward, as these people are strangers but everyone is in the same situation so all is forgiven. A top tip: prop your door open with a door stopper, this makes you far more approachable and more likely to bond with those you are living with. However, if for some reason you don’t hit it off with your flatmates all is not lost. In my first year, I found that my flatmates and I had little in common so therefore it was hard to even strike a conversation. This meant that rather than finding friends within my halls, I turned to my course and societies instead.
Societies are key to making friends whilst at university. Throughout the first few weeks most societies offer meet and greet sessions, where you can go along and get a taste for what they do before committing to joining by paying the membership fee. The freshers fair is a perfect place to speak to representatives of societies, join their newsletters so you can keep up to date with their events schedule as well as a great opportunity to ask questions and pick up freebies (stickers, nandos vouchers, canvas bags, mugs, pens…). Although, I will warn you, every single stall at freshers fair will try to get you to sign up to do something – don’t sign your life away just because they are being to enthusiastic for you to ignore!
Freshers club nights are also a good opportunity to meet new people over Jägerbombs and vodka shots. Now whilst clubbing isn’t for everyone, I certainly enjoy dancing to the ‘Macarena’ and ‘In Da Club’ whilst dressed in a zebra onesie. My university has an event called “Battle of the Halls” where everyone dresses up in their halls dedicated colour, it is pretty good fun to be fair. With going out clubbing off of campus means the dreaded trip back to your accommodation at 4am. Make sure you have this planned before you leave, London is particularly good due to the night buses and reliable Ubers.
Freshers week is expensive. Extremely expensive. Now you don’t want to be the person who drank away their student loan within the first two weeks and so therefore careful budgeting is essential. I recommend working out your expenses first and then seeing how much money you have left to play with. Nights out can also end up racking up a fortune (slightly tipsy + a debit card = big mistake), so draw out cash before you go out. There are many budgeting apps available if you can’t be bothered to write it down, I used Visual Budget and OnTrees by MoneySuperMarket.
Rapping along to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air in a club is of course important, but so is going along to a library tour, attending your departments welcome event and getting to know the campus that will be your home for the next three years. However, you should remember to have fun, let your hair down and laugh a little. You never know, these next few years could be the best ones of your life!
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