“It’s like war, but with more kebabs”, this is perhaps the most apt description I’ve heard of Freshers’ Week, one I heard spoken with utter seriousness by a Royal Marine two years ago. In the sensory scattershot that will make up your first days here you will fight tiredness, aim to survive the shellshock of Darude’s Sandstorm, and watch friend carrying friend back from their less successful skirmishes in the Union. The good news is that this is no Dunkirk, when boots hit the ground here, be they loafers, Doc Martins, or Crocs, there is only one certainty: you go to victory. Never forget, no matter how much your halls devise new ways to serve you potatoes; no matter how much awkward early small-talk with your roommate may drain you; no matter how many times you go to Ninewells hospital in Dundee St Andrews will always have an event to put everything right.
“It’s like war, but with more kebabs”
Saturday heralds the start of your St Andrews experience with ‘Welcome to The Bubble’. Here you’ll not only spend your first night with your fellow Freshers, you’ll also be treated to a crash course in university culture by the older years. Expect ringing ears from a barrage of academic family offers; a hoarse voice after shamelessly singing along to club classics; and a memory purged by the trademark blue Pablo from The Union bar.
Sunday’s headache isn’t enough to keep you down though, and the winning combination of Berocca and Paracetamol offers a second wind as you don your academic gown and head along for the much publicised St Andrews pier walk. Try and avoid the lure of Instagram at this stage and talk to some of the students from other halls. As with everyone in town you’ll be sure to see them everywhere over the coming days and weeks, and it’s always useful to have an alternate venue for pres. Speaking of which: Clan Warfare. Often regarded as one of the less impressive of the Freshers’ events, tonight is a chance to meet people, go on a drunk beach walk, and generally go your own way without a great fear of missing out.
Monday is a time to embrace what will become a key part of St Andrews life, the throwback theme. The Britney tribute and 90’s night will most likely be a hallmark for what is to come. Needless to say by this stage you’ve been in St Andrews a couple of days and may want to throw in your lot somewhere other than the Union. While this may seem tempting, you may detest Britney Spears; you’ll never see the Union’s Club 601 quite as shamelessly St Andrean than when hundreds of people are singing along to “Oops I did it again”.
Tuesday is a new addition to the Freshers Week line-up since my time. A massive karaoke night, originally named Massaoke, hopes to up the ante on previous smaller karaoke events, bringing live music and the Freshers crowd into the mix. There can be little doubt that karaoke is the domain of the bold and obliterated. If Tuesday manages to overcome the slight anemic quality that troubled side room karaoke nights of the past, it promises to be an important opportunity to, once again, forget everything but the fact you can’t sing for a few hours.
Wednesday: Still alive? Brilliant. You’ll need all your energy for Sinners, the best of the Union’s recurring nights out. Having been told it’s a sport themed night someone like myself, a Dyspraxic whose greatest sporting achievement is co-founding the School Croquet Society, may consider taking the night off. Happily, the sheer amount of alcohol guzzled at most club pre-drinks is enough to lower the average hand-eye co-ordination of the Union to that of a blindfolded sea lion. Be prepared to see things on this particular night, as ritualistic chants and Vengaboys tracks punctuate the movements of the infamous rugby, hockey, and lacrosse teams. Saying this, if throwback and questionably themed pre-drinks aren’t quite your thing, the Union’s Ceilidh acts as a great way to indulge in Scottish culture while keeping your energy up for other things later in the week.
Thursday, whether you’ve danced the night away at a Hall event, or been compromised at Sinners, requires a recovery of some kind. Of all the nights in the 2017 Freshers’ Week calendar this is one that can’t be missed: Hot Dub Time Machine. Witness the return of time travel DJ’ing to St Andrews, playing tracks in chronological order across the years from old favourites to modern classics. Whatever your era, taste, or indeed lack of, there will be something to set your heart racing and your overdraft spiralling.
Friday’s rolled round, and things will have changed a lot. You will most likely have mastered the three streets that make up our town, made a group of friends, and maybe even learned a dance move that doesn’t make you look like an albatross having a stroke. You will have gone through many of the highs and lows of the week, and are ready for the real thing to begin. With this in mind return riled up to The Union once again for The Bop, which resembles ‘Welcome to The Bubble’ but with fewer bad decisions.
Saturday brings with it fatigue, takeaways in place of halls food, and a struggle for the final wild night of the week. The Union has waded into the fray with ‘Headphone Disco’, a great way to connect with other freshers while keeping music under your control. Meanwhile Starfields delivers on its promise of a believable festival vibe, bringing a big name DJ alongside a more mainstream late night shift that leads the dance long into the night: a definite favourite among freshers.
Sunday: Ah Sunday, given how getting home last night has taken more effort than creating the heavens and the earth you might be forgiven for thinking that Sunday is a day of rest: you are wrong. While the alcoholic onslaught eases there now remains an, in some ways, far more important event: The Freshers’ Fayre. Sport, Acapella, Pokemon, even medieval weaponry, all can be found and signed up for. While my membership of Sunday League and brief experience in a canoe only reinforced the effects of my 72 spatial IQ, my advice here is the same for everyone, try as much as you can, you have nothing to lose.
Now, while first year is hardly the academic challenge of your life, a monkey with reasonable handwriting could probably scrape a seven in my course, it is also worth considering what these last few days are. Lectures haven’t begun, auditions are waiting, interviews pending, and you have a final chance to enjoy yourself without the pressure of any of them. It’s rare indeed for your level of responsibility to be as low as getting 35 per cent, but you don’t even have that on your mind yet. Freshers Week, and indeed first Semester, is a war of sorts. Things will change constantly, time will vanish, if you’re like me you may be threatened with a knife… but unlike a century ago you will be home by Christmas. With that in mind, you’re only a fresher once, so I expect to see as many of you out as possible discovering the key element of Fife life that is the St Andrews Event.