Eilidh Beaton on the post-Freshers’ Week blues
During the first seven days of university life, the average St Andrews first year takes part in a very surreal initiation process. At the very least, they made two hundred new acquaintances (probably from ten different countries), joined twenty societies and ten sports clubs, danced like an eejit at a ceilidh, ate a Mars bar and pesto toastie at 2 a.m. and consumed copious volumes of alcohol on a round of pub golf – at great expense to their wallets as well as their livers.
Freshers’ Week in the bubble consists of an exhilarating series of activities being carried out one after the other. Great as this may be, it begs the question: how can the rest of university life live up to Freshers?
For many, the post-Freshers’ comedown is offset by the overwhelming disgustingness of Freshers’ flu. First year biology student James Rimmer describes it as being “like the Black Death, but not quite as bad”. Hyperbole aside, nothing can drag you down from the glamour of your new life in the Bubble more effectively than waking up and feeling like you’ve inhaled all the gunge from the set of ‘Get Your Own Back’.
This feeling proves particularly inconvenient in the context of a lecture theatre. It’s bad enough having to wake up at half past seven (in the morning) for the first time in three months and drag yourself into the town centre with a stinking hangover; it’s worse still when you are made to feel that your effort was in vain because you can’t hear a word your lecturer is saying over the din of people coughing.
But once the pain of sore throats and 9 a.m. lectures begins to wear off, life after Freshers’ can prove itself even more enjoyable and rewarding than the experiences of the first week.
For one thing, it’s nice to be able to remember the names of the new people you’re hanging out with for a change rather than continually resorting to blurting out the same old questions: “What’s your name?”, “What are you studying?”, “Where are you from?”. By now, the majority of first years will be able to hold up a more stimulating conversation with their new peers than they were able to in their first few days. Even if they discuss the content of a particular lecture or the colour of a medic’s cadaver, fresh work-related experiences provide a whole new bank of interesting talking points to draw from to delve into the minds of new friends.
Furthermore, some may actually be enjoying the intellectual stimulation of university life. Taking notes in lectures, attending tutorials, doing background reading and engaging with a subject you may have no previous experience with are all great methods of unclogging months worth of Jeremy Kyle and Big Brother brain space. In more general terms, the first few weeks of university are a great time to get reacquainted with your sense of organisation, whether that be by successfully finding your way around the library, putting on a wash or just getting through the day without having to ask someone for directions.
Perhaps the best thing about life after Freshers’, though, is beginning to feel like a real student. Participation in sports and societies plays a big role in this. Whether you play korfball or football, or your interests lie in politics or Harry Potter and Gin, getting involved in something new will inevitably expose you to a whole new set of people, ideas and experiences, which is surely what life at St Andrews is all about.
Ultimately, the end of Freshers’ Week does not mean the end to new experiences. There are still plenty of things to do and places to see in your new university town. If you haven’t already, find some academic parents. If you have, get to know your new relatives – this may prove challenging. Visit the castle, the cathedral and the three beaches – West Sands, East Sands and Castle Sands – and bring your camera. And most importantly, arrange a night out in Dundee so you can dance until the wee hours in a proper club.
Although the days of tribal warfare and Ultrabeat may feel long gone now, their memory still lives on at the Union on Friday nights.