Freshers week is one of the most exciting times at university. As your first experience of adult life, the freedom of leaving home is one of the most anticipated aspects of being a student and you’ve probably been thinking about it since results day. It is also a chance to bond with your new flatmates, make tonnes of friends and party for a week straight. Right?
Here’s what we wish we had known about freshers week.
1. Your flatmates might not be your best friends
Everyone’s dream of going to uni involves partying, good grades, and an instant and long-lasting friendship with your flatmates. As nice as this would be, it isn’t always the reality. Some universities ask minor preliminary questions when allocating your rooms, but at the end of the day, you could be put with anyone.
We’re not suggesting that you’re going to hate the people you live with. Even if you don’t have much in common, flatmates can provide a nice safety blanket for freshers week and everyone will be polite throughout the year (it’s in their best interests to be) but you don’t need to feel under pressure to secure them as your new BFFs. It’s important to branch out too. Meet people on your course, join societies and…
2. Talk to everyone
Freshers week is a unique time in your life, being one of the only occasions where it is totally acceptable (and even encouraged) to talk to absolute strangers. We’re not talking about random people down the local shop, but on campus and in halls everyone will be totally new to you. Striking up conversation in the corridor, laundry room and library, or introducing yourself to the person next to you in a lecture can be the start of a life-long friendship.
The idea of doing this can be really intimidating for people who are naturally introverted but it’s important to remember that everyone else is in the same situation as you. It doesn’t have to be weird or awkward when approaching someone new because the truth is that they are probably hoping for you to do just that. And there’s no need to worry if you don’t hit it off instantly. There are so many people around that you are bound to find the perfect group for you soon enough.
3. Explore the university
This one might seem obvious and may already be at the top of your list of things to do on arrival. The problem is that, amongst the craziness of freshers week, you’ll probably find new priorities and might forget about it altogether.
Exploring your university is a great way to ground yourself in your new home and will relieve you of the stress of finding your lecture halls at 9am in the morning the next week. You might even make new people along the way. Stopping to talk with others who also look a bit lost can be the start of a really great friendship.
4. Your cleaning rota won’t work
We all have an idealised idea of living in a shared flat, where everyone takes equal responsibility for chores and does their own washing up. This just isn’t the case in student halls. Some universities encourage you to make a cleaning rota in freshers week, but the reality is that, within the first week, this will be totally forgotten about.
Your carpets won’t get hoovered, plates will pile up by the sink and people will spill tomato sauce on the hob. Cleaning is one of the biggest causes of arguments amongst flatmates so the best thing to do is just keep cool and embrace it. A messy kitchen is part of a true student life.
5. It’s normal to feel homesick
No matter how much you’ve been looking forward to university, everyone feels a little bit homesick during freshers week. Whether you’re missing home cooked meals or a beloved pet, your feelings are totally normal and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed. Everyone around you is going through the same thing.
Although you will get over it in time, to help yourself get through freshers week it is important that you don’t shut down. Hiding away in your room will only make the problem worse and it is important to keep busy and meet new people who can make university feel like a new home in its own way. Photos of friends and family will also help you to make your dorm room feel homely and a phone call home every now and then can be a great comfort.
6. You can’t escape ‘freshers flu’
You may have heard of the legendary ‘freshers flu’ and brushed it off as university superstition but it is absolutely real and, no matter how hard you try, you won’t escape it. Spending the whole week up past midnight, getting drunk and mingling with people who have brought germs from all over the country will inevitably leave you feeling run down. This can be pretty inconvenient considering that you are about to go into your first week of studies.
Don’t worry though. It doesn’t need to put an end to your fun, a quiet night in to watch a movie can be a great opportunity to bond with your flatmates and there’s nothing like shared illness to bring you closer together. Joking aside, the first week of university shouldn’t be too intense anyway so, while it’s best not to miss it, turning up while feeling a bit sluggish isn’t the end of the world.
7. Don’t get too drunk
For university in the UK, drinking is a pretty big part of student life and maybe one of the things you’ve been looking forward to most. While sitting on the side lines completely sober may not be the best way to pass the week (unless drinking just isn’t your thing) you should still be careful with what you consume. Remember that you’re making a first impression, so forcing your flatmates to take you home early and clean up your sick is never a good way to go. You’re also in an unfamiliar area so you should always be aware enough of your surroundings to keep yourself safe.
If you don’t plan on drinking any alcohol at all, this is also ok. There are plenty of events that can be fun when completely sober and you will find that people are a lot less judgmental about your choice not to drink than they might have been in sixth form. Everyone at uni is an adult and there is no pressure to do anything you don’t feel comfortable with.
8. Get all the free stuff
While most of your evenings in freshers week are probably packed full of plans, finding something to do during the day can be a challenge. Student budgets can leave your options limited but luckily your uni will have planned for this.
During freshers week there will be lots of free activities (and probably free pizza) going on on campus. If you haven’t heard anything about this, it’s a good idea to join a university Facebook page or group chat so that you can hear about everything in advance. That way you won’t get there too late for the freebees.