This time a few years ago I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat and, above all, I couldn’t stop worrying. I was so terrified about starting at the University of Southampton that I felt physically sick every time the thought crossed my mind. What if I had weird people in my halls? What if I didn’t like my course? What if I snored loudly in my sleep and woke everyone up? What if I sneezed in a lecture and didn’t have a tissue? What if I left all my knickers in Reading? What if I forgot my own name?! Fear after stupid irrational fear, my head was steadily swelling up with worries : a Pandora’s box filled to the brim with petrifying thoughts of leaving home for the first time. But then one day a miracle arrived. A little, white flutter of hope: my Freshers’ pack. It was only then that I realised that these students, these young people raving about how amazing univeristy is, were just like me. They weren’t super humans. They weren’t rocket science geniuses. They weren’t weird or (that) scary. They were just students.
My first Freshers night before we went out
Having done freshers as a worried 18 year old, I’m happy to tell you that I GOT THROUGH IT. I didn’t sneeze in a lecture or forget all my knickers, and, sorry to be predictable, but I loved every minute of Freshers. I’m not going to go on about how wonderful it is – hopefully you’ll already know that from your Freshers’ pack. Instead I’m going to regurgitate some useful tips that I picked up at Southampton that helped me make the most out of my Freshers’ week.
My flatmate Hannah lived on a sausage farm lolol
1. Don’t drink if you don’t want to
Freshers’ week is not necessarily about getting drunk. It’s about meeting new people, making friends and sharing interests. If you don’t want to drink then you don’t have to – IT’S FINE! On the fourth night of Freshers’ week, my liver had certainly had enough, so despite my flatmates’ jeering, I stuck to my guns and didn’t drink. You can be sociable without being drunk. People won’t hate you if you don’t drink, but they will if you throw up on their bed at 3am.
If you take anything from this blog post, PLEASE take this piece of advice: on your first day, the worst thing you could possibly do is arrive at your halls, go into your room, shut the door, and hide. You’ll be too scared to leave when it comes to having a wee and it’ll only get harder and harder. Pretending you’re employed by MI5, you’ll edge out your room, peek suspiciously down the corridor , then suddenly RUUUUUUN! You make a dash for the loo, slam the door and PHEW – breathe – and you’re safe! First thing’s first, prop your door open, stick some music on and open a bag of Haribo – I guarantee that your new flatmates will be in your room to say hi in a flash.
Let’s not be prudish about this – people have sex in Freshers’ week. Whether it’s a friend, a stranger, or a flatmate (although I’d advise against this), please MAKE SURE it’s safe. There’s nothing worse than moving a million miles away from home, taking out a £3000 loan and starting your 3 year degree, to find that you’re pregnant by the guy with the Jessie J t-shirt, who bought you a shot of Apple Sourz and a Jägerbomb.
Your Students’ Union is here for a reason and there are hundreds of societies for you to make the most out of. This could possibly be the last chance you’ll ever have to try out TV presenting, take up fishing, or try your hand at break dancing. You’ll gain fantastic experience, you’ll meet like-minded people and you never know – you might find a passion for, er… hiking.
5. Be open-minded
On my second day I had to stand in a 3 hour-long doctor’s queue, with 300 other students, holding pots of our own wee, waiting to be tested for Chlamydia. And you know what, it was amazing – because EVERYONE WAS EQUAL. So, although the hot boy in the corner was cool, indie and way out of my league, he, like me, was also holding a pot of his own wee (which I think it’s fair to say, instantly diminishes one’s ‘cool’ factor). My advice is: there are no boundaries in your first week so talk to everyone! Yes, they might study Physics and spend their evenings playing Warhammer, but they also might love to crochet – JUST LIKE YOU.
6. Make the most of it!
You’re going to get sick of people saying this so I thought I’d get in there first: you’re only a fresher once, so stop worrying and HAVE FUN. Remember for most of you, your degree won’t count in your first year. Not at all. Nothing. Nada. So while you’re being boring, stuck in the library reading about the enthralling topic that is ‘molecular diffusion’, get out there and make the most of your one free year. I’m telling you now that YES it is acceptable to go out 7 nights in a row and turn up to lectures hungover – just don’t get into bad habits for when it actually counts.