Every year in September you may have heard would-be uni goers discussing Fresher’s week and wondered what the hell is it and what carnage goes on at those parties and social events, especially with the new stories and antics that come with it in our laps.
Well, if you’re just starting university this year here’s your chance to learn all about freshers’ week and if the thought of all those crazy activities that come along with it sounds a bit too much then we also few ways in which you can get out the other end alive, and ideally on a high!
1. What on earth is freshers' week?
Freshers’ week is the first week of uni for all newbies (known as Freshers) and happens the week before classes start so it offers the opportunity to settle in and introduce you to university life. It’s primarily known for being the time when everyone gets too drunk and if you can’t remember anything that happened that week that’s meant to be a good thing.
Universities put on a number of different social events, such as pub crawls, pub quizzes, fancy dress nights, balls and discos, while there are also a lot of non-drinking activities such as paintballing, ice skating and BBQs so you get to meet people in your halls and in the university.
However, there’s a lot more than just partying. There will generally be a Freshers’ fair, which is where all the clubs and societies available at your university congregate and show off what they do and how you can join them. You’ll find everything from the quidditch team to hill walking to a cappella singing, and definitely something to suit your personality. It’s the chance to continue with something you’ve done before (and meet people with the same interests) or to try something totally new.
It will also be the first chance you get to meet people in your halls of residence, and you’ll meet more names and faces than you remember and even forget what day it is.
2. What you should do during freshers' week?
Decorate your room
In the midst of uni, you won’t have a chance to sort your room out so organise it as soon as possible. Pack and unpack, make your room your own (universities often have poster sales) and remember to bring some mementos to help you remember those at home. Put away your boxes and suitcases and get your bedding in order.
Sort your admin out
There’s plenty to do in your first week and admin is high on the list. Register with the doctor, register with the university, find out where your lectures are going to be and when they are, open a student bank account if you haven’t done so already, and register for classes. You might also have a meeting with some of your course staff, for example, your personal tutor, who will introduce you to your course and be a friendly face if you ever find university tough going over your three years. As watching iPlayer means getting a TV licence nowadays, get one bought, and if you need to insure your belongings (check with your university as to their contents policy before you buy anything) take this out in the first week.
Join some societies
The Freshers’ Fair gives you the chance to participate in your current hobbies or try something new. Most societies ask you to pay upfront to be a member, however, our advice would be to join a couple, perhaps those you know you are going to definitely do throughout the year, and try out a couple more. You don’t want to go crazy and join everything in sight as it’s just a way to never recoup your costs as you’ll never turn up to everything you’ve signed up for!
Get a shop in
You are unlikely to be at a loose end during Freshers’ week, however, once you’ve got yourself sorted you may want to get a shop in. This might include any toiletries you might need, any stable foods you might need, such as rice, pasta, tea and coffee, as well as food for the week. You might also find that your kitchen is missing something, such as a toaster, which you might want to invest in, and it’s also a good excuse to find out where the nearest supermarket is and what you can get from there.
Explore the town and campus
It’s always fun to explore new places and your first week is a great time to meander about those streets. You might also want to have a go on the public transport, especially a route home, in case you find you've been walking too long and need a bus home without the hassle of having to understand how it works and where it's going. You’ll find shortcuts and alleyways, and hopefully, a new cafe or pub to spend the next three years nursing a drink in.
3. Five tips to help you survive freshers' week
1. Don’t worry about it
Freshers’ week is never as good as anyone says it is. If you find that you haven’t made any friends or haven’t really connected with anyone, there are plenty of opportunities to later. You might find people on your course or one of the societies or clubs you join right up your street. And remember, everyone else is just as nervous as you are and doesn’t know anybody either.
2. It’s not all about the alcohol
Yes, they’ll be plenty of time for drinking and socialising, but remember to do a few other things during your Freshers' week. These include registering for university and getting your student card; signing up for any elective modules; getting your timetable and meeting with your personal tutor; getting a feel for the university and finding your way around; attending any Freshers’ fairs on offer and signing up for some interesting clubs and societies; and decorating your room and buying a few supplies to make yourself feel at home.
3. Expect to spend money
Unfortunately, it’s often the case that your student loan hasn’t come through by Freshers’ week so you’ll need some money in the bank to get you through what will probably be the most expensive week of your life so far. I spent £200 in my first week by being out and about and going out in the evenings and I couldn’t quite believe how much one person could go through so fast. I told myself I would reign in the spending after that first week, and as we got settled and had lectures to go to and libraries to visit (all the things that don’t cost money) it was never an issue after that. You do want to have a good time and not have to say no to things and people, so just remember to budget for an extortionate first week.
4. Keep an open mind
Uni offers you the chance to meet new people and what better way to do this than with an open mind. Unless you’ve got friends or family from somewhere else in the UK, it’s likely that it’s among the first time you had the chance to get to know how other people live in other parts of the UK, and you’ll hopefully have the chance to meet international students as well. You’ll also find people with different interests and hobbies than you, and you might stumble across a new-found love!
Along with an open mind, use a doorstop to keep an open door when you are not busy so that others in your flat or halls of residence can stop and speak to you. You might even want to have a tin of biscuits or cookies that you can hand out as a welcoming gesture if people stray into your room. You’ll find you’ll make friends a lot quicker, and will be seen as a social neighbour.
5. Eat some fruit and veg
Beginning uni is all about eating pasta, bread, potatoes and any other carbs you can fit on your plate. As you’ve probably never had to fend for yourself it’s hard to know what to eat and how to cook. In week one, keep things simple and remember to eat some fruit and veg from time to time - a bag of apples sitting on your desk doesn’t go amiss - and as the weeks pass move on to simple, easy and cheap recipes with all the food groups rolled into one to keep you going.