By Haaroon Younis
Starting University is a daunting experience and you’re probably feeling very excited but also nervous. You’re probably worrying about making new friends, how you’re going to feed yourself and a million other things. But the single most important piece of advice I can give you, so you get off to a flying start, is to come prepared and with an open mind.
Fresher’s week will mark the beginning of a steep learning curve and the beginning of your University journey.
To help you prepare and give you a bit of an idea of what to except I’ve compiled the top tips you need to know on how to survive during Fresher’s Week and also thrive – it will be one of the best weeks of your life!
You will be nervous but don’t be shy, be brave! Meet as many people as you can
Your parents have dropped you off and you’re alone in your room feeling nervous. But remember everyone will be in exactly the same situation as you! No matter how daunting it is you need to put yourself out there so if you hear people talking in the kitchen, get out of your room and introduce yourself. If you make the effort, others will be grateful and one of the best things about Fresher’s Week is that everyone is approachable, friendly and it’s easy to get into conversation.
Bonus tip: Prop open your door so your new flatmates can drop by and likewise if you see a flatmates door open go in and say hello. Having your door closed all the time signals that you want to be left alone. People are very unlikely in the first couple of days to knock on your door because they won’t want to disturb you.
Once you’ve chatted to a few of the others and made one or two acquaintances, branch out and knock on other flats in your block and make some more friends. Safety in numbers, right?
The majority of your time during Fresher’s Week will be spent socialising and meeting new people, most probably during some drunken night out. Friendships can start in the most random situations so smile, be nice and have an open mind. Remember you’re not tied to the first person you meet or your flatmates.
Swap numbers with people you get on with and don’t be afraid to get in touch with them. Guaranteed by the end of the week your contacts will be filled with people you probably met on a night out and can’t remember, but it’s okay, it’s all part of the experience!
Go to the Fresher’s fair and sign up to societies
Go to the Fresher’s Fair, have a look around as this is an opportunity to find out what societies are available. There will be hundreds of societies you could join, no matter how quirky your interest, so you’ll definitely find something that interests you.
By joining and partaking in a society or societies (you can join as many as you like!) you’ll be taking up extracurricular activities, which will look great on your CV. Also it’s a great way to meet people outside of your flat or course.
Bonus tip: Some societies ask for an up-front registration fee. It’s best to not sign up to these unless you’re absolutely sure you’ll participate. Remember you are on a budget!
Fresher’s Fairs offer lots of freebies and definitely take advantage of this. Pens, keyrings, USB sticks, vouchers, sweets, food and much more are given away as freebies.
Keep on top of admin and paperwork
This is probably the dullest part of your fresher’s week but also the most important.
Make sure you have packed all your documents and brought them with you to Uni. When signing up for stuff, like get a student ID card, check what documents you need to bring in advance so you don’t have to come back and queue all over again.
You might have paperwork to fill out that will allow you to become an official student of your university and you can use this to prove to the Student Loans Company that you have started studying at your institution. Then those important funds can be released.
There will be a plethora of other forms to fill in, so make sure you read them and fill them in quickly as it is in your best interests to do so
Attend everything on your timetable
Whether your lectures will begin during fresher’s week depends on which University you are at. But everyone will have welcome and introduction meetings for their courses to attend. Whilst it may be hard to drag yourself out of bed for a 10am welcome meeting because you’ve got the worst hangover, it is important you attend (don’t worry, most others will also be hungover).
This will be your first chance to meet people on your course and make friends with them because you will be spending the next three or however many years with them.
You may also be given information packs which include information on referencing, plagiarism, modules, and key people to contact. So be sure to attend.
Budget (as much as you can)
Your student loan won’t come straightaway and there may be delays, so don’t turn up with no money.
Whilst you may have worked out your weekly budget and created a pretty spreadsheet you have got very little chance of sticking to your budget in Fresher’s Week.
The alcohol and fresher’s wristbands aside, there are likely to be some one-off and unexpected costs like buying textbooks.
I would advise that you create a special budget just for fresher’s week and try to stick to it as much as you can. Plan ahead so you don’t end up missing out on something because you spent all your money in the first two days.
The main reason for queuing up in Fresher’s week to get your student ID card is so that you can discounts on all sorts of stuff. The majority of high-street shops offer discounts if you present a valid student ID card at the checkout so get in the habit of whipping it out at every opportunity.
Also sign up at www.unidays.co.uk to get even more discounts and deals.
If you haven’t already, then definitely invest in a 16-25 railcard, as the discounted fare is generally much cheaper than the standard fare.
Combat home sickness
Moving away from home for the first time and living with strangers is a big change and it will be tough. The week will be very intense and it’s normal that sometimes you’ll feel exhausted and lonely so give a friend or your family a call. Your University will have numerous organisations to support you, such as student support officers, personal tutors and anonymous call centres. Don’t be afraid to contact them if you feel you need to.
Bonus tip: Pack your favourite films that cheer you up for times when you are homesick. You may find that some others don’t feel up for another night out and a group of you can watch a movie, which is a good way to make friends and bond and get rid of that homesickness.
Don’t try to go to every single event
You joined a few Fresher’s 2017 Facebook groups and you’re feeling cool because a 3rd year promoter has added you as a friend on Facebook. And now be prepared for hundreds of event invites (no exaggeration). You will be invited to so many events, foam parties, nights out and they will all claim that it will be the best night of your life. Not only will it be impossible to attend everything it’s also very expensive to do so.
Whilst you may get fear of missing out, everyone needs a night off so don’t worry about trying to keep up.
You can get to know your flatmates during nights in. I’d recommend bringing a deck of cards, a bottle opener and anything else you think necessary. You’ll get to know your flatmates much better this way than in an overcrowded club, with loud music, nodding and pretending you can hear what they are saying.
Know your limits – do not be that person
From reading this and the general popular image of fresher’s week you’ve probably figured out that alcohol and partying is a large part, and there is no escaping the fact fresher’s is a drunken, raucous, late night filled week.
However, be confident and only participate in events to the extent with which you feel comfortable with. Don’t be afraid of being labelled boring, your true friends will respect your decisions.
There will be peer pressure; the phrase ‘down it fresher’ will get shouted at you countless times. But always remember your limits and pace yourself. During your first week you are not at the level of friendship with your friends where they will wipe up your vomit.
Do you really want to be known as the person that got so drunk, threw up all over themselves and got thrown out of a club in the first week? It will stick with you, so please don’t overdo it.
Many new experiences may be on offer during fresher’s week and throughout Uni in general. Now more than ever you are likely to want to fit in but always know fully what you are getting involved in. And if you’re ever in doubt, steer clear.
Get to know and explore your surroundings
Universities are massive places and if you’re in a new city it can be easy to lose your way.
Firstly, start with your halls, find where the common room is, the laundry room, have a wonder around the grounds. During Fresher’s Week when you’re on campus have a walk around, locate your department school, libraries and the Student’s Union. Also find out the quickest route to your halls from campus.
It’s normal to lose your way, especially in a new city or on a big campus. Make sure you have a campus map of the University to help direct you and don’t be afraid to ask for directions.
Bonus tip: Work out the quickest route to your lectures so if you’ve overslept you’re not too late.