05 Sep 2016
You’ve probably heard a lot about freshers’ week - from your friends, from older family members and from watching Skins. Your first week of uni probably won’t be anything like you’ve seen on TV and won’t be anywhere near as dramatic, scary or exciting as you’ve heard. You’ll probably just drink too much, spend your days in bed or sleeping through orientation lectures, and then get up again to do it all again. And then on Friday morning you’ll wake up with freshers’ flu and think you are dying.
Freshers’ week is a challenge. You’re probably in a new place, living on your own for the first time, AND you don’t know anybody! So here are our tips for surviving freshers’ week and making it through your first week of independence without burning your apartment down/dying of freshers’ flu/getting lost...*
*We accept no responsibility if any of these things happen...
Get your parents to take you to the “big supermarket” when you’ve moved in and stock up on all the essentials to get yourself started. Use this as a chance to buy long-lasting, non-perishables like rice, pasta and tins, but also the things you might forget like oil, salt and pepper. Don’t forget cleaning supplies too – washing up liquid, sponges, cloths, surface cleaner, bleach, toilet cleaner, and of course, toilet paper.
The biggest shock in freshers’ week is the revelation that if you don’t actively make the effort to speak to other human beings, you’ll end up sat in your room alone instead of going out and having a good time. The good news is you’re pretty much all in the same boat, floating around desperate to latch onto someone else. So the first thing you absolutely have to do is leave your bedroom door open as much as possible! This is a silent invitation for people to pop their heads round your door and say “hello!”, which is how the majority of university friendships start. A closed door means you probably won’t be invited to go get free pizza/free doughnuts/free posters (there’s a lot of free stuff at uni!).
Similarly, take an open door as an invitation to go say hi yourself. Go introduce yourself to your housemates and get into the habit of popping your head in and saying hello when you’re on your way to the kitchen.
Then, once you’ve got a pack together...
Once you’ve introduced yourself to your housemates, it’s time to start knocking on doors. Go round the rest of the flats in your building and introduce yourself. Don’t know what to say? Start with your name, which flat you live in, where you’re from and what you’re studying. Don’t worry if it doesn’t end up being the deepest conversation of your life – a few words of introduction means you’ll be able to say “hello” if you see each other on campus.
Talk to the person next to you at your library induction. Talk to the person in front of you in a toilet queue. Swap numbers with your group project mates. Tell that girl you like her dress. You never know, one little comment could cement you as friends for life.
Late nights, too much booze, not enough sleep and the general stress of moving to a new place means your immune system is weakened. Throw in a load of new germs coming from all over the country and no matter how scrupulous you are with washing your hands, you’ll probably get freshers’ flu (90% of students do). When you’re sick and looking after yourself for the first time, the last thing you’ll want to do is drag yourself from your sick bed to get Lockets and Lemsip, so make sure you stock up before you get ill.
Always wanted to express your love for interpretive dance? Interested in taking up rowing? What about bowling? Joining a society or two is a great way to meet people and add something to your CV during your time at uni. Take your time during freshers’ fairs so you don’t end up signing up for everything, but try to join at least one or two. If you’re into sports but don’t think you’re good enough for the university teams, there are probably options to join intramural sports teams which are open to everyone. Some universities even have Quidditch teams!
In freshers’ week, you’ll often find yourself carried by current onto a coach, into a club where you’ll lose your new-found friends within 15 minutes and spend the rest of the night looking for them. So be sure to get some taxi numbers and put them into your phone so you’re not paying a 500% increased Uber fee twice a week.
Wouldn’t it be brilliant if your flat selection was determined by a calculated algorithm to ensure the people you lived with ended up being best friends for life? While it’s certainly common to become BFFs with your housemates, it’s more likely that you’re going to have to work a bit harder to make friends at university. Don’t worry if you and your housemates don’t instantly gel like in every American college film ever made. Be considerate, tolerable and clean the kitchen from time to time, but make your own friends (see tips 1-3).
There will undoubtedly be at least one fancy-dress themed night in freshers’ week so come prepared! Admittedly, your Cinderella costume might not be ideal for a toga party or dead celebrities theme, but be creative!
It’s really easy to stay in your room throughout freshers’ week, phone home every night, Skype your friends at other universities every day and go to lectures without speaking to anyone. While you shouldn’t feel pressured to do anything you don’t want to do, you should try to push yourself slightly out of your comfort zone, whether that’s knocking on a stranger’s door or going to that foam party which really doesn’t sound your cup of tea.
Even if you have a hangover you fear will kill you, it’s definitely a good idea to attend all the recommended lectures so you don’t end up three weeks in too scared to use the library because you didn’t attend the orientation and can’t find anything.
If you’re going away to somewhere new you will feel homesick. Going away to uni is a big deal! For a lot of people, this is the first time you will ever have lived away. You have to look after yourself, meet new people, attend your lectures and do your homework. It’s difficult! It’s also undoubtedly really hard for your parents too, so make sure you do ring home, but maybe not 8 times a day.
Your university experience will be nothing like the movies. Nothing like your friends’ experiences. Nothing like you expected. You’ll spend a lot of it feeling like the most socially awkward person who has ever lived and the rest feeling utterly exhausted and overwhelmed. Don’t worry if you embarrass yourself or if you don’t want to go out every night. A few weeks in and freshers’ week will be a distant memory and you’ll have way more important things going on – like trying to pass your exams!