What Is It?
Fresher’s is the first week you will spend at uni, before your course officially starts. It’s the week that you will register to say you have actually arrived at uni, move into your flat, join clubs and societies, find some friends, partake in your choice of activites in the day and night time, be introduced to local places (clubs, shopping, bars, eateries, uni buildings), and basically have a good laugh. It usually involves a lot of freebies, and a lot of drinking.
Newcastle theme their Fresher’s Week each year, with mine being themed as “Around The World”. This meant each day had activities focused on one country, with the those in the evening being the ones following the theme more closely (for example on Vegas Night the uni rented the big entertainment complex known as The Gate, and turned it into Vegas). Obviously I am unsure how it works at other universities, but we had to buy a wristband for £60 (I think), and this enabled us to book onto activities for free during the week, as well as getting us into clubs and bars for nights out. The cost of the wristband was more than worth it, as I got free meals out, and took part in numerous daytime and evening activities. The daytime activities even included Go Ape, as well as more practical things such as tours of the food market (invaluable with regards to saving money later in the year), trips to Tynemouth…more than I can remember. On the last day of the week the uni paid for hairdressers, beauticians, barbers, masseuses etc. to come in and make us presentable for the beginning of the working year, and recover from fresher’s.
Meeting the Flat & Moving In
Fresher’s Week is also the week that you move into your accommodation (I moved in the day before, to find my feet on my own a bit first, and also comply with the date my uni wanted me to be registered by).
First things first, don’t think that you’re so cool you need to get rid of your parents immediately. Many of us registered with mum and dad in tow, and explored the city with them after unpacking. They’re useful if only for the fact that they make unpacking much faster, and will probably buy you lunch.
My flat all ended up gradually congregating in our kitchen/living room with cuppas, and getting to know each other. Yes, it can be awkward at first, but (cliché) everyone is in the same boat. That evening we all cooked our meals and chilled. We tried to make our way to a supposed house party in Flat N, but it didn’t actually seem to be happening, and so we returned to our flat. And trust me, that one good night of sleep definitely helped with the week ahead.
Simply put: be yourself, don’t be a snob, put your dignity on the line, and just have a good chat with your flatmates. They may be the people that you end up going on nights out with at the beginning of fresher’s, as they are the first people you will get to know. By the end of the year four of us in our flat of six ended up becoming pretty good friends. Bear in mind that you only have to live with them for one year, if you really hate each other. Most likely you will end up living with different people the next year, or a mix of first year flatmates and course/society friends.
Decorating Your Room
Unpack your room as soon as you arrive. Later on you probably won’t have the energy, and it’s nice to feel that you have your own room. Leave a few little things like putting up posters and photos until the parents have gone, so that you have something to do, and as a possible ice-breaker with your flatmates if you’re someone who struggles to make conversation.
Best Week of Your Life?
My gut reaction is no. You will do plenty of socialising but not much amazing-people-meeting until your seminars, lectures, and proper society and clubs nights get underway. When I thought back to Fresher’s I realised that I maybe stayed in contact with three of the people I met in that week. By two weeks into uni I actually went through my phone and deleted around twenty phone numbers I knew I would never be calling.
YOU WILL HAVE SO MANY BETTER WEEKS FOLLOWING FRESHER’S. Everyone that I know, when I said this, completely agreed. Fresher’s will NOT be the “best week of your life”. Don’t feel unnecessary pressure to make it so, just take it as it comes.
What If I Don’t Drink?
I have a couple of friends who are teetotal, and I only drink socially, and very occasionally. Don’t worry. Here’s the thing: YOU CAN STILL GO ON NIGHT’S OUT. I’ve had nights out with no alcohol, and they’ve actually been the best ones – mainly because I wasn’t hanging the next day, I could easily order a taxi to get home safely, and I didn’t make an arse of myself.
- If you are with the right people it won’t matter if you’re drinking or not. I found there was actually a whole lot less judgement when I didn’t want to drink on a night out over at uni.
- If your uni is decent then they should have organised some other activities for you: we had meals out, comedy club nights, movie nights, greyhound racing, theatre trips…if you’re in a place like York then I’m guessing a ghost tour may be an option.
- If you are really worried about how people will see you then order mocktails discreetly.
At university there are people who don’t drink for religious reasons, health reasons, dislike of the taste…you will find like-minded people during Fresher’s; you tend to gravitate towards them naturally as you pick your own activities. I was actually surprised at the number of people who didn’t drink. AS LONG AS YOU’RE UP FOR A LAUGH, AND AREN’T TAKING IT ALL TOO SERIOUSLY, THEN YOU’LL BE FINE.
- Be prepared to have your photo taken on the first day, when your register. It went on my student card so that everyone gets to laugh at it- because I was definitely NOT prepared.
- If there’s an activity you desperately want to do, get down there early to sign up
- Fill each day, as well as the nights. This was were I found I met the best people, mainly because we were all sober enough to actually hold a conversation.
- Get to the Clubs & Societies fairs early; they get packed quickly…
- It’s a good idea to look online at the ones you want to join and make a beeline for these first.
- Choose three societies you love to actually sign up to for the year; paying for membership isn’t unusual, and they take up time.
- When you go to clubs and societies introduction events look out for freebies: I got myself a Revolution’s card with offers each week just for attending the Creative Writing Society taster.
- Bring a bag to put freebies and leaflets in.
- Don’t be afraid of doing stuff alone. People later told me that my confidence and independence was what made them want to get to know me.
- You can do anything but not everything: pick activities you really enjoy for your Fresher’s Week. And pick what YOU want to do, not what person X/Y/Z wants. The idea of this week is to find friends in like-minded people, you won’t achieve this if you’re pretending to be someone else.
- Get some sleep and look after yourself: I know people tell you to go out every single night, but a bit of sleep doesn’t hurt, and it means you can actually explore in the daytime too. By the end of Fresher’s only I actually knew my way around. Everyone else had spent 7 days being nocturnal.