Hey everyone! Today I’m writing the second part of my series on my first year of university. The first part seemed pretty well received and was one of my most liked posts so far, so it’s nice to know people are interested and reading! Today I’m going to talk about something that was a massive fear for pre-university Ellie: freshers week.
For anyone who doesn’t know, fresher’s week is an event that takes place at UK universities the week before the Autumn semester begins in late September/early October. Essentially, loads of events are put on every day to give people the chance to make friends and get tasters of societies and clubs they might be interested in for the upcoming year. However, what any student thinks of when you say “freshers” is the crazy parties every night of the week. Although I’d drunk alcohol plenty of times before university, it had always been at friends houses and I’d never been “out” in the more traditional sense. So, this world was entirely new to me, and the added fear of moving into a flat full of people who I may not get on with daunted me throughout the summer.
Hopefully this post is going to tell you that my fear was entirely unwarranted, and that freshers was absolutely fine and nothing to worry about. I think a lot of pressure is put onto it, and everyone was telling me that if I didn’t go out every night or to dozens of events throughout the week, I would miss out on meeting everyone and be friendless for the next three years. Perhaps you can tell by the hyperbole here, but this simply isn’t true.
Moving into accommodation
In the UK, first year university students move into what is referred to as “halls” – basically communal flats on the university campus, which have low level supervision, and also a 24-hour security team and student support on hand. As I received an unconditional offer from my university, I found out which accommodation I’d gotten into pretty early on. It was my first choice (it was the cheapest) which I was thrilled about and meant that I’d be sharing a kitchen and bathroom with my flatmates, which I didn’t mind doing. As the accommodation offers gradually got released, people from the same blocks found each other online, and by the time we all got there in September, about 80% of my block of flats had already spoken to each other online. I would advise trying to find a group chat or Facebook page dedicated to your accommodation before you move in, as this made a huge difference in how comfortable people felt meeting each other and meant that we could arrange a group meet-up on the first night rather than aimlessly wandering around our own flats or sitting in our rooms alone.
I ended up in a relatively small flat, which I loved, and quickly became friends with people in the larger flat next door. Everyone is just as eager to talk and make friends as you are, and you never know where great friendships will pop up – someone who I spoke to on the first night is someone I’m now moving in with for second year! Additionally, living in halls gives you the awesome experience of meeting international students, which is super exciting! Students from other countries who are studying in the UK for a semester are housed on-campus, so during my first year I lived with people from America, Ghana, Italy, and Spain. Interactions with these people were always fun and interesting; it’s amazing the differences between cultures that you can learn about!
Once you’ve made friends, your next decision will be what freshers events you want to hit up. I would advise against buying an all-inclusive ticket/wristband for any parties throughout the week. In reality, you probably aren’t going to be up for partying and meeting new people every single night, and I don’t know anyone who used them to their full potential and couldn’t have saved money by buying individual event tickets. Buy tickets to the events that you are genuinely interested in; it’s the best way to meet people you’re likely to get on with!
It is also extremely likely that your university has a Facebook page where people can buy and sell tickets for events, textbooks, etc, and there will always be people selling their tickets for events on the night, so don’t worry about them being sold out. I think the most important thing to do is enjoy your new-found freedom, but also pace yourself, particularly with drinking, as it’s easy to find yourself very drunk, and surrounded by people you don’t know at all! (yes, I speak from stupid experience.)
Have fun, and be safe, but also remember that you in no way have to go to these types of events if they’re not for you. You’ll make friends in other ways and will be making new friends until the day you leave university. It’s extremely unlikely that you’ll remain friends with anyone you drunkenly meet at fresher’s week – the only person I’m still friends with now is someone on my course who I would definitely have crossed paths with anyway.
If you’re a student beginning university this September, feel free to drop any questions in the comments! I’m writing this series with the intention of easing the worries of any students who are panicking about first year the same way that I was and want to help if I can. This is going to be a 4-part series, so check out my social media above to keep in touch and see when the next part is going up!