University College London (UCL) is a prestigious place, ranked 7th in the world in QS’ university rankings. However, much alike every other university, UCL participates in the traditional, much-dreaded week of freshers, a week typically filled with limited memories and unlimited regrets. What follows are the 20 most common mistakes that a typical University College London fresher will make.
1. Spending too much money on Freshers tickets.
While as freshers it’s necessary to get involved with various events, it’s certainly not necessary to purchase every single ticket under the sun. Most of the people you meet during Freshers (besides your flatmates), you most likely won’t see again; so save a bit of money for the biggest events, rather than trying to attend all of them!
2. Trying to get in every single Freshers club photo.
Always striving for that perfect club photo is a waste of time in London. A limited number of photos actually make it onto the club pages, and those that do will leave you wondering who those people were to the left and right of you.
3. Trying to become friends with every single student.
Freshers can be a social nightmare, trying to find that perfect squad that suits you best. In London you’ll soon realise there is a ridiculous number of students and it’s impossible to befriend everyone. Be patient, once the Freshers madness subsides, you’ll soon know who your main friends will be.
4. Arriving late to halls of residence.
Especially at highly international universities like UCL, it is best to arrive at your halls as soon as possible. Friendship groups have often developed by the time UK students are arriving, and a head start can only be of help! This also enables you to get to know people by the time you’re awkwardly forced into the common room for plastic sandwiches and questionable free Lucozade bottles.
5. Getting lost and being late for the first lecture.
London is a big place, and Google Maps often makes routes seem a lot simpler than they are. Arriving 45 minutes late to a first lecture might be fairly standard for a Fresher, but when you’re dealing with bulky, overwhelmingly squeaky wooden doors, it might quickly become a memory to forget.
6. Trying to pee in your own sink.
Sometimes the bathroom just seems too far away. Take my advice though: it never is. While this might seem like a good story to tell, the risk of mess just isn’t worth it.
7. Thinking you can go to every single Freshers event.
There are a lot of Freshers events in London, and if you purchase a particular Freshers wristband, there’s likely to be one every single day. While you may miss some supposedly ‘big’ nights out, staying in for the night is the best way to refuel and preserve the crippling funds.
8. Joining course Facebook groups.
Friends, or rather a lack of, is probably one of the biggest fears for every Fresher. In response, it is fairly standard to try and join every single chat that exists, whether it be on Facebook or WhatsApp. You’ll soon realise that these chats usually comprise of about 3 people actually talking, and within days you can guarantee you’ll never look at those chats again, save it for your actual friendship groups.
9. Throwing up in extremely public places.
As a UCL student, it’s more than likely that your night out involves a trip on the bus or tube. Factor this in when drinking; remembering that you threw up on the underground isn’t one of the best feelings in the world.
10. Thinking you’re still going to be the smartest student.
While intelligence might not be your biggest concern during Freshers, it is still necessary to realise that geniuses from all around the world have all come to one place (having failed their Oxbridge interviews). The days of being ‘the smart one’ in secondary school or college are definitely over.
11. The clothes you bring to university.
No one has the liberty of knowing the first time round what clothes to actually bring to university. Luckily, London, being the hub of the UK, has efficient transport links, but nothing is more annoying than forgetting those vital shoes, which lead to a painful journey home. International students have this issue on a greater scale, the plane ride home just might not be worth the effort.
12. Not joining a society.
Societies are a massive part of university life, especially (but not limited to) sports teams. Going to collect a laptop from your dad on the same day as the UCL Freshers Fair can prove fatal as it is often difficult to find the motivation and/or time to join societies at a later date. Societies provide a major social aspect to university life as long as you can hack the typical Wednesday night out at Loop.
13. Trying to meet friends you knew before university.
While it might be nice to know that there are some familiar faces at your university, it is best to avoid them during Freshers. While this might seem harsh, university is about branching out and making completely new friends; and if you stick to an old pal, you’re limiting your ability to find others and may run the risk of seeming exclusive with all your old time inside jokes.
14. Taking food from flat-mates.
This can, at times, be a perfectly acceptable activity, especially when friendships are made throughout the year and food is bought in cahoots. However, during Freshers, there is very much a kill or be killed vibe, and in UCL it is not rare for students to move corridors purely based on the regular disappearances of their favourite delicacies- guacamole, in my experience.
15. Forgetting to eat.
Freshers at UCL is ridiculously packed, especially if you have purchased a Freshers wristband. As a result, there is very little time to actually eat. Nights out start surprisingly early and inevitably the hangover tends to drag into the later hours of the day. No matter how little, make time to eat something so you can join the stereotypical weight gainers of the university world.
16. Not having an Oyster Card.
Even living close to London, an Oyster Card might sound unfamiliar as was the case with me. But unless you want to be 45 minutes late to your first lecture, it is strongly recommended that you buy one. Typically, they only cost around £5 in selected newsagents and over the year, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without one. Warning: be prepared to lose at least 5 Oyster Cards over the duration of the year.
17. Leaving your room messy.
You aren’t actually in your room much during Freshers, and when you are, it’s usually just to quickly change before the next night out/to pee in your sink. You’d be surprised how satisfying a quick room tidy can be, and it really helps with staying calm at an extremely chaotic time.
18. Not bringing an umbrella.
London, thanks to pollution, is one of the hottest places in the UK. This means absolutely nothing during rainy season (which is essentially most of the year) and London becomes unforgivably grey and depressing when it rains. If without an Oyster, you’ll likely find yourself walking a lot during Freshers – bring an umbrella, you’ll thank me later.
19. Underestimating how high-tempo life is at UCL.
Freshers itself is an exhausting process – relentless drinking and minimal sleep. Add to that the absolute chaos of London and you find the reality. Perhaps not during Freshers when there is no time, but certainly throughout the remaining terms, you are likely to find yourself napping unheard of amounts of times. Napping, for me, is the key to surviving university life.
20. Freshers is just Freshers.
It is important to remember that at UCL, Freshers is just 1 or 2 weeks of a whole year of university. While it is great fun, and a time for questionable memories to be made, it is not the only occasion to have fun, make friends, and go out. Participating in Freshers is a tradition not likely to disappear any time soon, but what’s for certain is that a night out with friends half way through the year is likely to trump any night of Freshers; as you are surrounded at the very least by people you actually know!