When I was a fresher, I thought like a fresher, talked like a fresher and had lots of fun! I put those cherished teenage years firmly behind me and embraced my new-found freedom with open arms. Well, sort of! I never stopped to consider the end of my student life. Well, surprise, surprise, it creeps up on you.

It’s not a pleasurable experience realising the sky is ‘no longer’ the limit and that you’re now confined by the physical reality of not being a spry 18-year-old. University wears on you and will, in the end, age you. Don’t be shocked if you wake up one morning to discover a few premature grey hairs and a beer belly that just won’t go away – I joke!

I’ve compiled some signs to look for to help ease you into gracefully accepting your time as a fresher is over:

You put minimal effort into a night out

One of the major stresses as a fresher is that you just can’t decide what to wear. Advice from fresher veterans of yesteryear will be ringing in your ears: “wear comfy shoes” and “only wear, or take out, what you don’t mind losing.” The list goes on. However, as expected, the popular option of fancy dress is at the forefront of every schedule– as, it seems, are parties complete with volumes of foam, lashings of paint or a hot tub. Young female freshers often participate in themed nights which, let’s be honest, are designed to encourage minimal clothing and support predatory behaviour. Freshers hoping to impress when arriving at university for the first time inevitably combine the fancy dress and themed nights into something provocative and eye-catching.

The moment when you say “f*ck it” to all of the above is, probably, the best part about leaving your fresher days behind. You go with the flow and no longer need a grand plan to impress others. It is not about looking “hot to trot.” Instead, you wear whatever you want and don’t feel pressured to conform to a certain style choice because that is the apparent norm. So, my dear freshers, I anxiously await the day when you too acknowledge the pain of fancy dress and themed nights out. Trust me, it’s a revelation.

Blacking out is now horrifying

I’d love to tell you that I have never blacked out, but that wouldn’t be entirely true. I can distinctly remember the first time it happened. Blacking out was the cool thing to do as a fresher, and it was a sense of pride to stumble into a flat with no recollection of where you were or how you got there. But, don’t be fooled – that doesn’t mean you won’t reap the consequences in the morning. One day you will wake up to discover the “fittie” you bagged the night before is in fact coyote ugly or worse your best friends other half. As you lay there, understandably in a state of panic, you desperately try to piece together last night’s drunken antics.  You’ll feel the bile rise and this time it’s not because of the tequila shots.

Going to Freshers Week makes you cringe

Unless you’re a brother or sister whose house is throwing a welcome party, then as a second year/old timer you start to feel like a major creeper when mixing with freshers at these events. You start to see your past freshers experience play out in front of you and, because you stopped blacking out, you are witnessing first-hand some of the more regrettable things you did back in the day. It’s uncomfortable, to say the least. Plus, let’s face it, grinding to the likes of FloRida is only amusing for so long. If you’re contemplating the inevitably looming prospect that is Freshers Week or, as likely, planning your “get out now” card – don’t worry. You’ll soon discover, once the world of bars opens its doors to you, there’s no need to attend another freshers party again!

You are ready for bed before midnight

Something truly horrible happened to me on Friday night. I’d finished my shift at around 4:30 and set off home eager to prepare for the night ahead. As no stranger to a “tactical nap” before going out, I decided to rest my eyes and get a good half an hour kip. I never made it out of the door. I was flat out and didn’t wake until 10am the following morning. Yes, it was pathetic and I’m sure my inner fresher was ashamed by my sudden lax attitude. In my prime, as a fresher, I could stay up all hours of the night and still make it into my 9am lecture. As my second year progressed I could barely keep my eyes open, let alone function at University. So, like a child, I’d skip all my classes following an all-nighter. In terms of social life, some of my best times at university were spent at flat parties between the hours of 1am – 4am.  Now I’d be lucky to make it out of the house without conking out on the sofa during “prinks.” You reach a point where energy drinks and caffeine can only take you so far.

Your life is starting to resemble that of a “grown up”

There was that glorious window of time when you could waste away hours without the slightest pinch of guilt for your actions. Your days were spent reverting back to your 3-year-old self, what with all the napping and bizarre food concoctions. It was all pretty cushy. And, believe it or not, you’d always have the old “I’m a student” excuse to fall back on. However, it now seems all that has been replaced by hard work, paying bills and acting like an actual adult. Well, mostly. In truth, your time as a fresher will pass by quicker than you care to imagine; before too long you’ll be faced with the very real concept of starting your adult life and quite FRANKLY it’s terrifying!