Starting university is surrounded by feelings of excitement, dread, freedom and most other emotions you can think of. There’s so much to organise and we often only have a month to do it all in. We need to pack up our lives, make sure we have everything we need for the adventure we’re about to start, connect with flatmates and course mates and plan out our Freshers’ fortnight. But there’s no need to panic! I have been through it and I learnt some great lessons while I was at it. So here is my guide to surviving Freshers’ week.
1. Don’t spend loads on furnishings for your new digs.
It’s so tempting to buy five of everything in a blind panic of not knowing what adults actually need. The first thing you need to do is check what is included in your accommodation. Then figure out what you need. If it’s on the second list and not the first – that is what you need to either pilfer from your family or buy. But you really do need to keep it to the basics.
2. Don’t rush to unpack.
Unpacking can be a really stressful, and trying to do it all at once may be overwhelming. Aim to do it over the course of 3-7 days so that you don’t explode. It’s also worth noting that you may move things around a lot. Halls are often small and not particularly spacious, so finding the best layout for your belongings may take a while.
3. Be nice to your flatmates – even if they’re awful.
I’ve had awful flatmates in my first year. They were messy, rude, loud… But this is about how you act. I made a bad choice in giving my flatmate an earful when he held some highly controversial views. Don’t do that. If you dislike your flatmate, be civil. Don’t get involved in any arguments and if things are that bad, move. My second set of flatmates are collectively some of the nicest people I have ever met. I don’t regret moving but I do regret making my life in my first flat more difficult than it ever needed to be.
4. Figure out what freshers events you want to go to in advance – and get tickets!
Freshers’ week is most commonly known as the party period when you start university. It’s a great way to get to know your flatmates and course mates, as well as the local club scene. With so many events that happen nationwide in Freshers’ fortnight for England, it can be hard to know which events to go to. The top three to go to in England (if they’re near your university) are:
The Big Freshers Ice Breaker, Project X Freshers’ House Party, Freshers’ Zoo
I can also recommend looking into anything that’s labelled as neon, glow etc., as they tend to be a blast. One of the big ones to steer clear of though (despite the huge hype) is F**k Me It’s Freshers… Popular, hyped and yet disappointing by most accounts (though granted I was unable to go last year as I got stuck looking after the guy who passed out early).
5. Figure out which club(s) near you are dodgy.
Every uni has one *cough* Pryzm *cough*. It will be one you end up going to on occasion but you’ll probably drink less and go in larger groups. It’s just a fact that some clubs attract rowdier patrons. It might be the increased threat of violence or being attacked in some form. It might be a popular location for drug usage. Or maybe trouble seems to happen there more often. But for whatever reason, figure out which club it is and avoid it when possible.
6. Learn how to treat your hangover.
For some people, a glass of water and 2 ibuprofen are enough to set them going after a big night out. For some there seems to be nothing that works. Different things work better for different people. Some of my favourite cures and preventions that I discovered during freshers’ week are:
Mayonnaise sandwich – gross? Yes. Effective? Also yes. There’s an explanation though. The mayonnaise lines the stomach and the bread soaks up alcohol. This is definitely more of a prevention than a cure and is likely to help you keep a low score on your flat’s chunder chart.
A glass of water – The morning after, you should definitely drink a glass of water. It’s not the greatest thing and likely won’t have you on top form. But alcohol dehydrates you so drinking water helps to fix that issue. It is also worth doing this before going to bed.
Don’t drink on an empty stomach – If you drink on an empty stomach it does more damage to your stomach lining and the alcohol isn’t soaked up. This results in getting drunk quickly, sobering up slowly and an increased chance of puking.
7. Start your classes on the right foot.
I know this sounds obvious but during Freshers’ week you will be tired, hungover and thinking, “how important is this introduction anyway?” But it is VERY easy to fall behind. I missed 3 lessons in one class and wasn’t able to catch up for 2 months. Imagine that being at the start of the year? So make sure to set your alarm, maybe even a few of them, and make sure you’re on time for all your classes, at least to start with.
8. Enjoy it!
Freshers’ week is the first real taste of freedom for many young people. No parents telling you what to do, when to be home by, what not to wear… Enjoy it. You’re unlikely to get another chance to spend two weeks in a drunken haze of dancing, meeting new people and generally making good memories. Make the most of it while you can.