Ah freshers week, the most important event in the student calendar (yes, including exams). The excitement and anticipation of freshers week is most likely what’s been keeping you going through the lockdowns and COVID restrictions of the past 18 months. If you play your cards right, freshers can be one of the best weeks of your life. Through my time at university, I’ve learnt some valuable lessons along the way which will hopefully help you have the best freshers week possible. Whether you’re starting first year and this is your actual freshers week, or if you’re a second year hoping to have the freshers you missed last year, this is for you.
1. Pace yourself
Look, I had to learn this the hard way, but you do not want to be the one who takes it too far in freshers week. Getting a reputation as a lightweight in freshers follows you for the whole year, and maybe even the rest of uni. Having a bit to drink definitely takes the edge off getting to know flatmates and neighbours. However, it perhaps isn’t the best idea to be blackout drunk with people you’ve only just met. It’s easy to feel like you’ve known people for years after being at pres for ten minutes, but you don’t want to embarrass yourself too early on (maybe save it for the week after). Also, the debrief the next morning with your flat is almost as good as the actual night out. It’s even better if you can actually remember it!
2. A vitamin drink before bed = lifesaver
If you take one piece of advice from us, let it be this. Hangovers are an unavoidable part of university life, but there are definitely ways to alleviate the absolute shockers. All you want to do after a night out is collapse in bed. However, dissolving an effervescent vitamin C tablet in water then drinking it before bed will do wonders for your hangover. After years of forcing vitamin drinks on housemates and friends, we swear they make the next day slightly more bearable. You can find effervescent vitamin C tablets in the health/pharmacy section of most supermarkets
3. Find out what welcome lectures you have
Unfortunately, with freshers week comes welcome lectures. While the last thing you want to be doing with a hangover that’s built up over multiple days is to sit in a lecture hall, it just has to be done! While you shouldn’t let welcome lectures or induction days stop you having fun, make sure to set multiple alarms before you start partying the night before to avoid missing them. It’s also a good idea to find out when any freshers fairs are, mainly for all the freebies available, but also to sign up for societies.
Image source: University of Surrey
4. Go into freshers with an open mind
It’s important to remember that when you meet people in freshers week, they’re probably just as nervous as you. Sometimes nerves can get in the way of making a good first impression to everyone, so the way someone comes across on day one might not be their authentic selves. Also, bear in mind, going into freshers week, that university is such a random mix of people from all different backgrounds. Whether your housemates are exactly like you or perhaps have different interests, take time to get to know them before writing off friendships. If your freshers plan is to go out every night, while theirs is to stay in for a few, there may be other ways you can bond together.
5. Be yourself
Freshers seems like the perfect opportunity to completely reinvent yourself. New city, new friends, new you. I completely stand by giving yourself a pre-uni glow up, perhaps getting your nose pierced or dying your hair. However, try not to go into freshers week as anyone but your genuine self (personality-wise). When you’re living with people 24/7 it’s difficult to keep up a false personality for long, so it’s best to avoid any lies (whether big or small) about yourself. On top of that, when you find your people, they will like you for you!
6. Stock up on easy meals/comfort food
Freshers is so hectic, the last thing you need to be worrying about your next meal. University is the best place to learn new culinary skills, but I promise you, freshers week is not the time. It’s worth making sure you have plenty of easy meals for when you’re hungover and exhausted. In first year, my mum used to bring her homemade chilli con carne frozen for me, because she knew it was a favourite of mine at home. Another winner is supermarket ready meals, they’re so easy and most ranges consist of purely comfort food. As you get better settled into uni life, you will acquire a load of go-to recipes that will get you through your degree. However, from experience, freshers is not the time to practice this!
Side note: make sure to eat before pres (you don’t want to be the liability of the group because you’ve not eaten)
7. Prop your bedroom door open and sit in communal areas as much as possible
When you move into halls, it can be easy to spend a long time in your room, unpacking and generally just getting used to being somewhere new. One of the best things I did in freshers was spend a lot of time in the kitchen/living room area of the flat and getting to know people. Making the first move in a conversation will get you a long way. Whether it just makes others feel more at ease, because you’re clearly sociable and eager to make friends, or if it leads to finding common interests with each other. Similarly, propping your bedroom door open demonstrates that you’re approachable and want to get to know your flatmates, and might encourage them to do the same.
8. Make the most of being able to go out every night without uni work
The beauty of freshers is that you can go out every night without the stress of 9am lectures or deadlines. This won’t be the same again for a long time, so it’s well worth taking advantage of! Although there is less pressure in first year, because the grade doesn’t count towards your final degree (at most universities you just need to pass the year), you’ll still want to get into good habits with your working patterns.
9. Pick your freshers events wisely – is a freshers wristband really worth it?
It can be difficult to know whether to buy a freshers wristband for the club events or not. I bought one for £25 in first year, and I’d say it’s worth buying if you know you’ll be out at every event. However, the wristbands get more expensive the closer you get to freshers week, so obviously there is less value for money. Some of the events in freshers week are must-dos, such as a zoo party and any other fancy-dress nights. Take advantage of fancy dress nights and go all out if you can – one girl from my accommodation dressed as a penguin for the zoo party!
In our group for freshers, only two of us had wristbands, so we managed to get in faster than the rest. However, they were never far behind us, and always made it into the club despite not having forked out for wristbands. So perhaps if you’ve managed to find your flatmates on Facebook, check if anyone have wristbands.
10. Try to go to loads of different pre-drinks
In freshers week it could be easy to get comfortable sticking with your flatmates for pres rather than meeting lots of new people. At my accommodation, people used to put in the group chat if they were having a big pres. I’d recommend going to lots of big pres, as well as having smaller ones where you just chat to people. If this isn’t looking likely at your accommodation, why not knock on the flat next door to see if they fancy coming round and going out together? Most of my friends now were from the flat next door to me in halls, so it is well worth putting yourself out there early on. Similarly, don’t rule out pres with course mates if you’ve been added to a course group chat, or any friends of friends that someone suggests going to.
So, there we have it, all my advice to help you have the best freshers week possible. Ultimately, just remember that freshers is the perfect week to have the time of your life and get to know as many people as possible to set yourself up for the rest of first year.