Letter to a fresher
Going away to university for the first time is scary business. No number of freshers’ guides, prospectuses, piles of kitchen utensils or time spent trying to casually interrogate older friends can totally do away with the fear of the unknown, but that is normal and okay. Now that freshers week and year are behind me I can say that you’re probably scared of the wrong things anyway.
The top fears freshers have are: “I won’t make any friends and will have to live out my days at university alone.” “I’m not going to be able to cope with university-level work. I barely made it through my A Levels in one piece and I don’t even remember how to write an essay anymore.” “I’m going to either starve, or die from pizza-clogged arteries.”
First up, breaking friendships is much harder than making them. You should be worrying about the awkward process of detaching yourself from that first group of people who became your new bffs on that first wild night out. The tricky thing about making friends at university isn’t that they are hard to find necessarily, but that it is hard to choose who is really going to be a good long-term friend for you. Most people find that it takes some stumbling around in the dark for a while to work this one out.
There are tutors and professors with office open hours if you are feeling overwhelmed by the work. More frightening than the reading lists is the number of simple “adult” tasks that no one ever taught you how to do. Be very afraid of budgeting, making sure there is always loo roll and grounding yourself the weekend before a deadline. Living without parental supervision is all fun and games until you wake up broke and up to your ankles in the rubbish you’re too lazy to clean away.
More frightening than even finances is the existential crisis phase which seems to hit most freshers at the beginning of the second term. Do you really like your course? What are you going to do with your life? Do you like the person that you are? The realisation that you have absolute responsibility over your future is more overwhelming than that first day when you couldn’t find room H5.01.
Love from a second year x
P.S. Don’t lose your phone on a night out and be prepared to never have a clear inbox ever again.
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Photo: Gideon Tsang / Flickr