Freshers' Week is the initiation of student life and is muddled with feelings of excitement and apprehension. Usually around the 19th September, it is literally nothing short of the most intense 7 days of your University career. You can expect a steep learning curve as you begin to juggle your finances, use a washing machine and cook for yourself, and moreover, learn your limits and test them with the notorious Freshers' Week parties. The friendships you forge this week will most likely be your uni crew and even your future flatmates. It is, undoubtedly, the most important social event of your entire University life, and with this in mind, we thought we'd share some tactical advice to survive the challenges.
1. Be prepared!! - There is no better single piece of advice that will get you through this week. Whether it be making sure you have your favourite hangover cure readily available, or leaving sticky notes around your new halls, make sure all the angles are covered, right down to clean underwear, tinned food, and freeze dried noodles and pasta!
Get yourself ahead of the game by writing lists of what you need to do before you get there, arrive early for registrations so you can beat the queue time, and do some research on student life and tips to make the most of it. You'll find there are lots of student discounts available so always have your student card with you, and sign up for deals and discount voucher sites. Get organised and come fully equipped to handle the copious amounts of admin, and get it done as early as possible in that week.
It may not be madcap adventure you are hoping for, but you'll be glad to have got it out the way when see you the last minute queues of hungover peers all trying to get it done at the last minute!
2. Work out a Budget!! - No matter how excited you are, you will regret blowing all the money you have saved to get you through the week and beyond on the first night of shinanigans. Set yourself a daily budget, and stick to it. If you are lucky enough to not max yourself out each night, you'll have spare cash to carry over or see you further into the coming weeks. Its no fun being hungry or unable to participate after a few days because you splurged early on and left yourself short.
Its probably not a good idea to sign up to everything you fancy at the Freshers' Fair, especially if the ones that require fees and upfront costs, and more so if its not something you have done before! Put your name down but give yourself a few days before paying any fees. If you want to be super organised, draw up a budget planner.
Once you have worked out what activities you want to engage in, factor in the expected costs, and allocate separate funds to cover that and your food for the week, and make any important payments in advance so you are not left short as the week progresses. Try to be a bit sensible... of course there will be a lot alcohol for most this week, but set yourself a realistic limit and stick to it.
3. Sign up to Clubs & Societies!! - Throwing yourself into the extracurricular activities comes with a whole stack of rewards. It's a great way to meet new people with the same interests as you, as well as an excellent ice breaker when you introduce yourself to your course peers and room mates. Most unis offer hundreds of clubs covering a wide range of interests, so it is a good opportunity to develop on your existing skills and interests as well as exploring new ones.
What's more, when you have graduated and you embark on your career journey, your CV will be much more impressive as a member of clubs and societies, as you'll have more strings to your bow and it shows that you have the all important hobbies and interests that employers look for.
4. Put yourself out there!! - The first week will be the busiest, you'll have admin, sign ups, unpacking, organising and of course partying and socialising. You can make the transition from solo to coterie a much easier journey by putting yourself out there and being accessible and approachable. Student Halls offer a great opportunity to show your welcoming and affable nature, so get there a few days early and you'll be likely to meet others who want to get a head start so you can introduce yourself and hang out before the major bustle begins.
Prop your door open and play some music while you unpack. Its a welcoming sign that you're open to introductions and will encourage people to come and say hi while you're doing the necessary tasks. Once you meet someone, go round together and knock on other doors to introduce yourself to your neighbours - its less daunting with a back up mate, and when you find yourself standing in line with someone, don't be afraid to be the first person to say "hello". Go to the Freshers' Fair, go to the parties and take part in as many of the activities this week as you can, and do it all with a smile. Yes, it may be daunting, but everyone is going to be in the same boat, and if you project an outgoing and friendly persona, people will naturally gravitate to you.
Just remember, to keep it up after the first week to keep the opportunity of making strong friendships as you embark on the beginning of your studies... you'll need the support of good friends as you settle into uni life with all the highs and lows the adventure brings.
5. Don't be "that" person!! - Freshers' Week is going to be messy, there's no denying it. However, there's always at least one person that goes beyond the point of no return. Remember, if you're the one that got so drunk that you're swinging punches; throw up yourself, others, and all over the halls; or get so messy you'll need medical intervention, you'll earn yourself a reputation that will stick to you your entire uni career. Potentially, all the hard work establishing yourself and new friends can be instantly undone by one night of carelessness, and at best, you'll be getting stick and the butt of countless jokes well beyond your university days!
This also applies to romantic pursuits - give yourself a chance to get to know people first, and settle in to your new surroundings. Remember, mud sticks, so please don't do anything that you are likely to regret.
6. Manage Homesickness - More people than not struggle with homesickness, so the first thing to remember is that if you're feeling touched by the blues this week (and beyond) you are not alone, and it is a normal reaction to adjusting to life away from home.
For the first few days you are likely to be on a high from your newfound independence and limitless expectations, but there is that inevitable crash that follows that can be triggered by hangovers, tiredness, shyness, loneliness, and even feelings of doubt and separation anxiety. The best way to combat low feelings is to keep busy, active and get out from your halls. There is no shortage of paperwork, registrations and things to sort out when you first get to campus, so if you're starting to struggle, write a list of things you need to do as it will give you focus and a sense of achievement once its completed. Make sure to go to the clubs and meetings you signed up for, as well as any other events, even if you want to hide under the duvet. Go for a walk and find somewhere to explore - gentle exercise is an excellent stress reliever, and walking will give you the opportunity to have a change of scene, gather your thoughts, and clear your mind of any negativity.
Often, lack of sleep or the sheer exhaustion of Freshers' Week can be held accountable, so listen to your body and take the chance for a siesta should you need one. Don't forget to have some of your home comforts with you, it will be your emotional security blanket, and if you're finding it hard to cope, speak to the university counselling service. Its important to call home and stay in touch, but don't use it as a crutch or it will become harder to move along independently. Arrange a visit home a few weeks after you have moved, and use calls to catch up with your news and check in that you are ok, and as times goes on try to decrease the frequency of the calls. Most importantly, give yourself time to adjust and don't be surprised if the feelings hit you much later in the term or the reoccur at intervals - its all perfectly normal.
7. Stay Safe!! - It may sound like stating the obvious, but always make sure that someone knows where you are going and who with. Hopefully, by the time you are on your evening party plans you will have found a mate to be your tag team partner, but if you are in a position where you are venturing out for the first time alone, please make sure your room mate or someone knows where you are going or who you will be with.
Have a contact that you can put on speed dial and ensure you have enough credit and charge on your phone. Ask someone to call you or arrange to call someone yourself at certain times to check in that you are ok. Never leave your drink unattended. Ever. Always make sure you know how you are getting home before you go out, have taxi numbers saved in your phone contacts even if you are planning on returning by public transport... just in case plans change. Keep your address in your phone contacts in case you can't remember it.
And lastly, remember to eat before you go out drinking - carbs will be your best friend this week - and do drink water or a soft drink in between drinks - it will keep you hydrated, and I promise you will thank me in the morning!
8. Find yourself a Doctor and Dentist - self explanatory... its a given so get yourself registered as soon as possible! And while you're at it, invest in some vitamin C supplements. This will help support your immune system to resist the dreaded "Fresher's Flu", and is actually pretty helpful in defeating hangovers too!
9. STAND OUT IN THE CROWD!! - Check out our last blog on Freshers' Week ideas where we share our top tips to help you stand out this week and get noticed, as well as fun ideas to make your events glow!
10. Have Fun!! - Now all the grown up and sensible things are covered, let your hair down, be free and be you!! Take advantage of what will be the best week of your first year at university, and embrace all the freedom, chaos, and adventures that this momentous experience will bring. (Don't forget your camera!)