Seven simple steps to surviving first year

Photo by Lorelei Pfeffer

Ah, Freshers. As I enter my third year and the undeniable reality that my time at university is now entering its latter half, it’s only too easy to reminisce about that wonderful week. Bus loads of suitcase-leaden travellers and cars heaped with boxes flood the town, soon producing packs of nervous yet excitable students, closely followed by their equally nervous yet excitable parents.

Photo by Lorelei Pfeffer
Photo by Lorelei Pfeffer

I remember myself moving into my halls two years ago, filled with an overwhelming awe and appreciation for my new surroundings. Decorating my room and watching it turn from a blank canvas to a mirror of my wannabe university self, made me realise the potential with which first year could change me too. I began to rearrange my pin board with photos of old school friends which, in the back of my head, I knew would soon mingle with those photos of my new university friends. There was an overwhelming feeling of hope and new beginnings in the air, of reinvention and change, as obvious as the army of suitcase wheels rolling through the corridors.

At the time, the implications of first year weren’t fully clear. The avalanche of both academic responsibility and social scheduling was evident from the off – gone were the drawn out weeks of A Level revision where I only saw my dogs for the most of my days. Suddenly, everyone was my potential new friend and every club was eager for my signature on their sign-up sheet.

And yet, I do hope that I had some tit bits of advice for navigating the week. So my gift to you, my little Freshers, is a compilation of things I would have found useful in your same place, oh so long ago. So go out and enjoy yourselves, the hard work starts soon.

  1. Throw yourself into university life. After you become inundated with Facebook invitations to various Vic and Ma Bells events, make sure to RSVP to them. They may not be your first choice but just in case yours does fall through, it’s always a good idea to have them as a back-up. Pack your days trying new things and meeting new people.
  2. Don’t limit yourself to halls. Even if you find a great group of people down the corridor from you, outside your front door has the potential for many more friends. This will be especially important once everyone begins to settle into their work, meaning that socials or sports matches become a great way to get out and indulge your passion, whatever it may be.
  3. Do remember your academics. It’s an unfortunate necessity, but let’s not forget why you came to university after all. Keep an eye out for book lists and any introductory lectures that may spring up with crucial information for the rest of your semester. Yes, socialising is more fun, but let’s not forget all the fun of bureaucracy and paperwork!
  4. Don’t forget your parents. They’ll be running after you and nagging you at every opportunity but this is only because it’ll be their last time to do so. If your parents are anything like mine, your Mum will be desperately reminding you to put your passport and National Insurance number somewhere safe, but your Dad will be telling you to “party all night” and “live in the moment”.
  5. You are at the mercy of older years. Become accustomed to cries of “DOWN IT FRESHER” and the myriad of other drinking games and weird rituals that you’ll only encounter at university. This one piece of advice will follow you the entire year. You’re still a Fresher until you matriculate for Second Year… and that’s a long way away.
  6. You will grow to hate Circuit laundry – bond over it! Circuit laundry, to this day, was one of the most hellish experiences of my First Year. The website never properly shows if the machines are being used, you’ll routinely lose your Circuit card – the most obnoxious card that has ever inhabited my purse -, and you’ll be paying through the nose for a service that regularly melted the seams of some of my dresses. There is a silver lining though; I met and bonded with many of my friends in halls through this laundry [dis]service whilst hunting for lost socks and buying new Circuit cards – and you can too.
  7. Take a hell of a lot of photos. This is an obvious one, especially living in a world that is constantly taking and uploading pictures. But it is easy to forget. Those blurry bathroom selfies or snapchat videos singing along to a song at the Union could become those precious memories that become the subject of reunions for years to come. Cherish the silly, the ugly and the downright inexplicable – they might become more important polished photos from Opening Ball.


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