Being a fresher is a strange experience. For some it’s the first time they’ll be away from home, living with new people, strange people… VERY strange people, and starting to study subjects in the kind of depth they only feared in their worst nightmares (especially that one where you had to recite the entire Krebs cycle).
For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, ‘freshers’ are a type of nocturnal animal that migrates to university campuses in the early autumn and are often found peeing against bins at 2am.
Being a fresher is such a difficult and bewildering experience that I feel obliged to help with some words of wisdom from someone that has been both the person peeing on a bin at 2am and the person walking past tutting in disapproval. So for Freshers Week I have some advice that will help you get the most out of it and help you have a rewarding and fulfilling time, provided you follow absolutely none of it.
This advice starts when you first arrive on campus, I am not going to give you advice on what to pack for university because you should have realised that you are starting a bold new chapter in your life and so should have arrived with no baggage at all.
Mentally you’ll obviously still have brought plenty of emotional baggage. This will be important in your later ‘angsty’ rebellious period later on in your first year.
On arrival it is important you immediately follow standard university procedures, this includes your parents driving you the wrong way down the university one way system and then parking in a way that blocks in the parents of the people your sharing your accommodation with.
Now the last part of arrival is making sure that your parents don’t go home. Most people would think that having them leave you and go home is normal but it’s important to slowly adapt to university life so perhaps have one of them stay in your room with you and cook for you during the first week. Parents love being supportive so it’ll work out really well for everyone and it’s okay everyone else will be doing it so you won’t seem weird at all.
Like the rest of life university is full of people. Depending on your outlook this can be a good or bad thing. If you hate people and not in an ironic goth “I hate people but need to find people to tell about it” way then I suggest hiding in your university room. If you followed my earlier advice then at least you have your parent to hang out with.
However, if you are more inclined to maybe talk to people then it’s important to get out and try it. Now first off don’t forget that everyone is super confident and totally okay with university and not even slightly nervous and worried. Some may look shy and worried but that’s a front – literally everyone at university is all the same, totally relaxed. In fact if you feel nervous then it’s probably just gas.
So because you all feel totally relaxed and not nervous it’s okay to find a nice group of similarly not nervous and totally okay people to hang out with and then only hang out with them all week in a small pack. Because obviously none of you are worried and scared of meeting new people and looking for comfort in a small group of people.
At some point the university will realise it has a massive hoard of new students and will invite you to orientation meetings. These are billed as meetings to hand out maps, give you information on the university structures, policies and services. All vital stuff to understand so that your time at university can go as smoothly as possible. Obviously you should not go to these.
University is all about self directed learning and exploration. If you just go to a meeting where everything is literally handed to you then you are really missing the point of university. Where’s the fun in knowing where and when to go pick up your library card, it’s much more fun to walk around campus looking lost and repeatedly asking the one person you know that did go to orientation what to do.
Also the university will have gone to great lengths to get lots of extra staff in all departments to help answer questions and do things for you. It would be real shame if all this effort was wasted so asking these staff questions that could be easily answered by reading the flyers you are given or even reading the giant signs next to them, will really make the staff feel valued and appreciated.
Of course one of the most important things of Freshers Week is getting to explore the exciting evening activities laid on by your university. During your first week they try and cram as many of these into your week as possible in order to check that you can cope with the high levels of sleep deprivation you’ll experience later in your degree.
Now many of these evenings out will be themed – there will almost certainly be a retro night, a toga night and a fancy dress night. Having to come up with costumes for these can be time consuming but there is a solution, what ever the night wear a toga. A toga is the universal freshers week evening wear, it will fit all themes while being practical and suitable for a wide range of climates. Fancy dress night; you went as a roman, accent your toga with a bit of bush. Toga night; sorted. Retro night; claim you wanted to go really retro, anything you say in a toga is instantly more believable.
Final note of advice – the instruction to Drink Responsibly refers to the amount of alcohol not the method you consume it. Try to drink in moderation but make sure every drink is either on fire, in a fish bowl, upside down or served out of a friend’s belly button.
Now one part of going to university is financial independence combined with seeing if you have the ability to forage for food at local supermarkets. Everyone feels tempted to do this responsibly and plan out sensible meals that can be easily cooked from fresh ingredients. But it’s important to first make sure you’ve explored the possibility of living on chips, frozen pizzas and Pot Noodles. This diet isn’t required for studying at university but it has been adopted by a staggering 80% of all new students and its hard to argue with that kind of popularity.
It’s also important to not forget that you’ll need some things to help you start on your courses. Stationery is a vital component to getting you work done. More stationery means that you will do more work so remember to buy literally one of everything. Even if you never use a protractor just having it will make you feel more focused as a student.
End of Freshers Week
Now the concept of Freshers Week sounds like it should only last a week. Well in fact Freshers Week is actually named ‘Week’ after Arnold Week a totally real person who was the original inventor of Freshers Week. It was his intention that Freshers Week would actually last longer than a week, several months where possible. In honour of Arnold try to keep a little of Freshers Week going as long as possible by wearing a bedsheet toga and drinking flaming shots every day for your entire first year.