Brace yourselves: Freshers’ Week is coming and you should really think about taking some advice from an experienced mistake maker. Try not to follow in the footsteps of all the foolish freshers behind you and make good life choices by following these tips to minimise your suffering later in the year.
- Repeat after me: it is not a race
Freshers is a social experiment of sorts; think a yearlong Big Brother without the cameras or having to win challenges to get your hands on alcohol. Very strange forces can start to work on groups of young people in this suddenly-an-adult environment and people often fall into the trap of trying to prove themselves in all the worst ways.
Freshers is not a challenge to prove that you can get the drunkest, make the most friends, get the most numbers off random people in club or get into a relationship first. Avoid getting into competitive or comparative thinking and go at your own pace. Unfortunately, peer pressure has not been left behind in secondary school.
- Remember that your loan money is real money
When what seems like an inexhaustible stack of notes has been deposited in your bank account it may seem like you can throw this around like monopoly money. It is possible, and incredibly easy, to run out if you are careless with it.
It may seem like the least appealing use of a half hour in the summer holiday, but make yourself a loose budget and check that you are between those lines each week. Trust me, it is much more boring if you find yourself scraping together change to buy yet another packet of value pasta to eat plain alone in your room while other people are having fun with the money they still have.
- Do not hide away while your butterflies settle
Everyone is nervous at first (unless they are super cocky or have come to university with their best friend and or boyfriend). This nervousness in other people makes them really approachable and easy to charm. The smallest friendly gesture or simplest question can go a long way when you’re surrounded by people who are desperate to make friends; just like you. Make the most of the first few weeks when everyone is needy and looking around for friendly faces to sit next to.
- Don’t set yourself up to fail
If you skip lectures and skimp on reading from the word go, then you’ll be playing catch up for the rest of the year and that is a deadly demotivator. Get in your tutor’s good books by doing more than just opening the book and falling asleep on it. Familiarise yourself with the library and academic support system. They won’t bury you alive in work immediately but you will be digging yourself a hole if you ignore the university side of university…
- Make an effort with your flatmates
First impressions and first week tensions often cause a lot of friction in the flats that freshers are thrown into. Even if you feel like these strangers you have to share fridge space with aren’t your kind of people (who really needs that much salami?), or you have some heated fallings out over hygiene in the first week – don’t dismiss the chance of being friends. You will have a much better first year experience if you are friendly with the people that you live with.
- Take care of your body or be struck down
Freshers flu is no joke. Getting ill so far away from mum and her chicken soup while everyone else is out bonding is a truly miserable experience. The unwelcome truth is that students have basic human needs too.
Everyone needs sleep and some nutritious food to keep from devolving into a cranky, phlegm-filled lump in the corner of your room. Do yourself a massive favour and put some fruit that doesn’t come in a bottle into that trolley and have some full nights of sleep. Freshers is an intense, endurance sport – challenging your mental, emotional and physical stamina and you need to look after yourself to be on top of your game.
- Don’t pretend that you’re not homesick
You should call home – not relentlessly or to avoid engaging with people around you – but enough to reassure your family that you are okay, and feel like you’re still connected to your friends. Your university life will not be settled and stable enough to feel like a real support network straight away and you will feel much better if you can vent all of your feels to the people you trust the most back home.
Do you have any more warnings for freshers? Tell us in the comments below.
Photo: Nicolas Raymond / Flickr