Holly was the Student Talent Spotting Intern but sadly she left the team in August 2017. We caught up with Holly and asked her about her experience of Fresher’s week!
What was your first night like?
The University of Leeds gives you a range of dates that you can move into your halls of residence. I chose to move in on the Thursday but the rest of my flatmates didn’t move in until Saturday! So my first night was very quiet with me wondering if I even had flatmates, especially as I hadn’t found them on our accommodation Facebook page before we moved in. I just used the time to unpack my things properly and watch a couple of films on Netflix. My first real night out in freshers was intense: all of our flat and a couple of the other flats in our halls all went out together to a club called Control which used to be on Kirkstall retail park (where the trampoline place and laser zone are now!. We picked this club because there were lots of adverts about it on Facebook and flyers at the union so it seemed like a smart choice. It was really cheap and the music was great. Obviously it ended at 4am with 20 chicken nuggets and chips from the McDonalds opposite the club!
What did you find the most difficult during Fresher’s Week?
I found it really hard to organise myself sometimes. There was so much going on and so many opportunities it became overwhelming at times because I wanted to get involved in everything. This meant I often burnt myself out by trying to do too much with too little time – I should have realized that I can’t go to every single night out or event that took my fancy and I needed to prioritize. I needed to allocate myself enough time to unwind and to basic tasks like ensuring that I was eating proper meals rather than having a pot noodle. I also didn’t get very much sleep! This made me really tired and agitated at times and I wish I had made sure that I got my eight hours of beauty sleep.
What is your best piece of advice for freshers?
My biggest piece of advice for freshers is to step outside of your comfort zone but don’t feel pressured to do anything you don’t want to. Meeting new people in an unfamiliar place can be daunting but it’s really important that you give it a go. Take the first step and introduce yourself to someone else – everyone is in the same boat and nobody would judge you. If you came on the summer school, think how fast you all made friends with your flats and other students! If you think you might be interested in a particular society, make sure you go a long to the try out sessions. If you like it – great! If you don’t – no worries, you can find something else.
However, don’t feel forced to do things because other people are. If you’re not into clubbing then there are lots of alternatives such as food crawls (where you stop at a different restaurant and bar around the city center to try different food) and board game nights. My friend was the president of the film society and they put on lots of screenings of films for you to watch with free snacks. I’m personally not a huge fan of certain types of music (like techno, indie) and much prefer RnB/grime so I happily skipped any nights out which involved music which isn’t to my taste even though lots of my friends were going and tried to get me to come.
How did you budget your Fresher’s Week?
I had a job before coming to university so I had saved some money for my Fresher’s week alongside my student loan. The first thing you should do is a huge food shop so you have enough stuff to last you for freshers so you don’t keep popping to the local shop (where prices will be higher than a supermarket) every time you’re hungry. Whilst I had a few takeaways – they really add up and eat into your budget as my flatmate who ordered pizza everyday learnt!
Stay away from the very expensive club nights (such as Tiger Tiger) as they are not student friendly! The student’s union and smaller clubs (like Hifi, Wire, Mission and Space) are student friendly with drinks prices to match. I used to set myself a budget for each night out (i.e £20) and withdraw it in cash and then once it was gone – that’s it! No more drinks for me (obviously saved some taxi money or used uber of course). Clubs will pressure you to buy tickets for events prior to your arrival at university and this, for me, is a no go! Wait and see what events there are when you arrive and decide together with your flatmates – buying tickets you don’t use can be expensive and it’s not always guaranteed that you will be able to sell them on to someone else. Tickets for popular events, organised by your university, like Fresher’s Finale (or ball) and Varsity will sell out quickly but the tickets are not usually on sale until you arrive to give everyone on a fair chance.
Finally, believe it or not, I did not go out every evening in fresher’s! Not only is it too expensive but it’s not good for your health. By rotating my nights in and out it meant both I, and my bank balance, stayed relatively healthy (caught fresher’s flu still – of course). Nights in watching films or just chatting with your flatmates are really cheap but also crucial in order to bond. In the day, there’s loads of stuff going on on campus (usually including free food) for you to get involved with that are either free or only cost a couple of pounds. Spend some time just wandering around the university and the city and familiarizing yourself with it.
What was the best thing about Fresher’s Week?
Fresher’s week as a whole is an experience that you can never really replicate (even when you’re in your second, third and as I am – fourth year!). Everyone is so friendly and you meet so many new people and go to so many different new places. It’s all a bit of a blur when I look back because so much happened in a short space of time. Even though in subsequent years you have made your good friends and know the best places to go – it’s not the same feeling!
It’s really hard to pick one best thing to be honest! I really enjoyed every bit of it (apart from the hangovers and the fresher’s flu) but the highlight was probably the fresher’s finale which is a huge club night at the union to mark the end of fresher’s. Everyone got really dressed up and all of the space in the union was decorated and open to use. There were normal drinks, cocktails, food – everything! It was a fab end of the best fortnight of events.
Did you join societies?
I joined lots of societies in my first year. I joined my relevant subject societies (English and History) to allow me to meet other people from my course. I also joined LEEDS RAG, RAG stands for Raise and Give so this is a charity based society where you raise money for different charities by partaking in fun events and it’s also gives you opportunities to go abroad. I also joined the Street Dance society because as you all probably know after the summer school – I enjoy dancing!
There are so many societies to join that there is definitely something for everyone – from academic, cultural, welfare, sports, faith and political. The options are truly endless. There a few a societies – like Leeds Enactus that I want to join this year.