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Articles > Student Life August, 29, 2014

20 things I wish I knew about freshers week!

Lauren Ellis
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9.09 / 10

As my third year looms over me and ‘dissertation’ becomes a word I actually hear in conversation rather than just in my nightmares, I’m left nostalgically looking over the last few years. Every university offers tips for their newcomers but few rarely take heed. I myself was one of them, plunging headfirst into boozy nights and missing 9am lectures. I loved every minute of my first (and second) year but I have learnt lessons now that I wish I knew when I started. So here is another list you can either read or discard, but I hope you enjoy all the same.

  1. Join societies – this seems almost clichéd in its presence in every list, but it is vital. Whether you’re joining to find friends or further a hobby – or simply dream of going on tour – join every society that interests you in the Fresher’s fair. Even if you only attend one (or in my case three netball sessions) it’s worth it. The friends you find and memories you make will overshadow any anxieties.

Photo By University Of Portsmouth

  1. You do not need to like your flat mates – on my first day as a fresher my buddy told me the people I live with now I may never speak to in four years time. This may not be true for everyone, but living with seven strangers does give rise to a low likelihood of everyone getting along. Do not force yourself into friendships or feel obliged into maintaining them. University is full of potential; this is not sixth form anymore. Distance yourself from toxic people and surround yourself with those who share your passions and inspire and support you. This may take time, but you just need to find your people.
  2. Love the SU – this is a place dedicated to making your university experience the best possible, so support its nights and various manifestations (university magazines and radio shows are a great way of gaining experience for your CV.)
  3. Remember: there is more to university than just drinking – there is nothing wrong with not wanting to drink or spend your nights in a crowded room full of sweaty strangers. Equally, if this sounds like your idea of heaven: embrace it. University is about finding what you love, and if evenings spent being serenaded by the sound of “down it fresher!” does not appeal to you, do not feel guilty or out of place.

Photo By Shirin Winige

  1. Go to Fresher’s Fair – The fair is the best way to find out what’s on and what societies you can join, not to mention the bags and bags of freebies they give you. Don’t be embarrassed to take your jumper off and tie up your hair up as to seem unrecognisable as you make your way around for the fourth time: we’ve all done it and all still would if given the chance.
  2. Don’t neglect the daytime Fresher’s events – Most universities have BBQs and bouncy castles on campus during the day, and while you may feel shy without your liquid confidence the university reps will help to break any ice and make it a memorable day. This also means that you’re much more likely to remember who you meet, thus avoiding the unavoidable awkwardness of forgetting someone’s name.
  3. Don’t forget to call your parents – I admit this one is a little preachy, but it’s true. Your mum misses you more than you could imagine, let her in on your new adventure.
  4. The same goes for old friends, make sure you take the time to talk to them and catch up regularly. We’re always so quick to move forwards we sometimes forget what we’re leaving behind. Friendships need to be cultivated, and if you’re not careful you may return home to friends who have forgotten you too.
  5. Learn to budget – When you arrive at university you will be surrounded by cheap alcohol and endless take away boxes. Suddenly, there is no mother stopping you from eating thirty chicken nuggets in one go or keeping you from buying everything you see in Urban Outfitters the day your loan comes in. At least attempt to control your bank balance or you may find yourself living off baked beans and super noodles till your next loan comes in.

Photo By Colin

  1. But you will inevitably fail at budgeting (but don’t be too hard on yourself.) The overdraft you once feared is now embraced as an old friend, after all maxed out overdrafts are just part of the university experience. Try and remind yourself of that as you sit freezing and huddled under your covers in every jumper you own because you can’t afford to turn on the heating.
  2. Fresher’s flu will get you – It’s all part of the experience, but register with a GP when you first arrive (most universities have the option to as you pick up your keys) or find yourself sat in a overcrowded waiting room for three hours feeling evermore sorry for yourself.
  3. Take care of yourself – Just-Eat will at some point become your most visited website and you will – if you’re like me at least – be so caught up in being able to buy anything you want in the supermarket that you eat ice cream for breakfast for three weeks and count Haribo as a staple part of any self respecting diet. But there is a reason you were always told to eat your greens, love your body and fill it with goodness and your body will love you back.
  4. Learn to cook – Admittedly my culinary repertoire in first year consisted mostly of microwave meals and Pot Noodles, but learning to expand your stomach’s horizons will not only make you feel healthier but also make you the envy of all your housemates.

Photo By BadJonni

  1. Food will be stolen – passive aggressive post it notes will be found scattered over fridges and cartons of milk till the end of time. But be careful: what can start off as humorous can quickly become hurtful if you take things too far. When living with new people you can’t know immediately where their boundaries lie, so while you may think someone is just being overly sensitive about you using their pans, they may feel uncomfortable and disrespected. Be kind, and never steal anyone’s cheese. Seriously, don’t be that guy.
  2. Money, keys, ID‘ – chant this everytime you leave your flat to make sure you have everything you need before you leave. You don’t want to turn up to an event and not have your ID. That will only ever result in a lonely trip home.
  3. Explore your city – Your newfound independence is the perfect excuse to find out what your city has to offer outside of university. Not to mention getting hopelessly lost is a great way of bonding with your new buddies.
  4. Travel as much as you can –You only have a few guaranteed long holidays left and you should definitely make the most of them. University is the perfect time to travel, Europe and Asia have never been closer. So save up and grab some friends, the whole world is open to discover.

Photo By Flopes

  1. Say yes – go for drinks with that girl you barely know and try out that new night at that club. These are the days for art and music and finding out what you truly want and who you really are away from sixth form trends and what your parents think.
  2. Sort your life out – make sure you have access to everything you need before term officially starts. Make sure you: have your books (OpinionPanel gives out Amazon vouchers to students, so a great way to pay for books!), know where your lectures will be, have access to the library, know your way around the place as much as possible, your rent is paid and fridge is full. You don’t want to do this at 8:50 on Monday before your first lecture!
  3. Don’t worry if freshers isn’t what you hoped it would be – there’s plenty of time to party. Forget freshers week, the best times i’ve had at uni were those spontaneous nights out/ gatherings with friends. Make it happen, have fun, be nice to others and be safe!

So, in a nuthell, this is the advice i’d give any freshers’ out there. If you have any wisdom, tips or ‘life hacks’ to share of your own for our fellow first years, comment below!

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  1. Esther

    Amazing advice!!

  2. Scott Bishop

    it is very good advise

  3. Nazifa Malik

    Good advice

  4. Lauren

    Thank you for all the lovely comments! If you want to read more check out my blog:

  5. Vuctoria Bye

    Thanks for sharing, has helped me to know what to expect

  6. Charles Turvey

    Thanks for putting this article together, it really helps to know what to expect in the start of Uni!

  7. Tia gullick

    Thank you for sharing this information it was a very good read you also let you know a lot and a lot of this I will remember

  8. Jason Bunting

    cant week for next year, of course for freshers week, but just for uni in general- thanks for the advice! 🙂

  9. Sophie Clarke

    My freshers week starts soon and these tips I think will be a godsend come the next few weeks!

  10. Roisin Forde

    The chant is a really good idea, thanks 🙂

  11. Justine Zamora

    Thanks for sharing this article, hahaha I`m a fresher this year and it sounds a bit scary at the moment but I`m looking forward to it! I certainly won`t rin my healthy eating habits and keep active at Uni all the time, I really don`t want to get lazy 🙂

  12. Alexandra Frith

    Being a first year in fresher, i feel like this advice will help a lot

  13. Rebecca Miller

    This article has really helped, thank you!

  14. Georgina Kendall

    I’ll definitely need to remember that chant!

  15. N. Ellis

    I am not on Facebook but I think this young lady should go far. Intelligently written,and informative,and as a grandfather of a young lady shortly due to become a fresher at Sheffield University this piece cannot be anything but helpful. Well done Lauren!

  16. Maia Glean

    This article made me feel so much relief, one of the things I was worried about was whether or not I would be looked at funny for not wanting to have a drink. It’s not really my thing. I am now looking forward to being a fresher!

  17. Salma Elsaied

    Probably my favourite article that I’ve read so far!

  18. Mohamed Ahamad

    So simply put, this article has me pumped up for freshers! Thanks a lot dude!!

  19. Amreen Khalid

    Great read!

  20. amy davies

    you dont say how to make the workload easyer? thats the only thing im worried about as a fresher

    • Hey Amy, these are the tips for freshers’ week. Hopefully you won’t be assigned any work yet! 🙂

      Does anyone have tips for handling uni workloads?

  21. As a grad, if there is one piece of advice i could give any of you ‘lightweight’ freshers (like myself)… drink a couple of pints of water before bed. It will ease that hangover!