Summer is over, A-levels are becoming a distant memory and the initial joy of securing your place at University has been replaced with anticipation and, hopefully, excitement. You now find yourself moving in to your new accommodation and more specifically, preparing to enjoy Freshers’ Week, a time which you’ve been told is a crazy seven days of alcohol mishaps, sexual hijinks and wild nights out, all of which ultimately form one of the pivotal aspects of the student experience – apparently. But what if you’re not a party animal or not overcome with any strong desire to drink yourself into oblivion within your first week? It seems that one of the key concerns for many Freshers is how they will fit in and enjoy this so-called amazing week if they don’t drink or don’t particularly enjoy the clubbing/nightlife scene or even if they are simply shy and concerned about finding the confidence to make new friends. When asked about their Freshers experience, many students revel in stories about drunken mishaps and how many people they managed to pull, yet there doesn’t seem to be much of a voice for the other side of Freshers’ Week – the side with less alcohol and late night vomit. So, for any Freshers who are concerned about enjoying their first week without the need to party themselves into a frenzy, here are five tips to consider:
1) Non-Drinker/Clubber/Socialite? You are not the only one. Googling “Freshers’ Week” provides image after image of packed nightclubs and dolled-up students, often covered in foam, alcohol and other questionable substances. The reality is: this image does not reflect all students. There is no need to feel isolated or left out just because you don’t have a Jagerbomb in your hand. Get to know your new housemates and if you do find yourself alone at some point, take a walk to the next corridor or next flat along. Alternatively, keep your room door open so passers-by know you’re around or hang out in the common room/social space. The important thing is, don’t shut yourself in your room and feel lonely – there will be others around, sometimes you just have to find them!
2) Enjoy the daytime events. Take a good look at the program of events for Freshers Week and you’ll probably discover that foam parties and bar crawls aren’t the only activities on offer. For instance, the Freshers fair is not to be missed and is the perfect opportunity to get the lowdown on all the clubs, societies and services your Uni provides. Not to mention there are usually plenty of freebies to be had! Universities are offering more and more alternative events during Freshers Week, such as trips and tours around town, sport activities, live music, film nights and speed mates (think speed-dating but less awkward!) etc. Also, if you’ve moved into a new city, Freshers’ Week presents the perfect opportunity to explore and get to know your new home.
3) Remember – There are other ways to hang out with people which don’t involve alcohol. Unfortunately, many students automatically associate a good night with the need to drink copious amounts and dance on table-tops. This simply isn’t true and there are many ways to hang out which don’t involve drink. Crack out the board games and the packs of cards – you may laugh but you will find these items fast becoming your friends during your student years. Order Pizza, get a film on, go for a walk, make cupcakes, play charades or just sit and chat. If you live in large accommodation, it’s likely you’ll have a Facebook group, so why not put up a post saying where you’ll be and what you’ll be doing and inviting anyone else who is free to join you.
4) Don’t cut yourself off from the party animals. You may not be joining them in the clubs and at the bar; however, this doesn’t mean that you will have nothing in common with those who do enjoy the party lifestyle. So ask how their night was and what they got up to? Would they like to join in with some of the daytime activities? One of the joys of Freshers’ Week is that everyone is new and striking a conversation can be surprisingly easy. Also, you’ll find many people run out of steam half way through the week and may be more inclined to join you for a quiet night in.
5) Have some perspective. This is a tip for all new students, regardless of how they have spent their Freshers’ Week. Before you set off for Uni, you’re likely to have been told to brace yourself for new experiences, forging lifelong friendships and having the time of your life. The thing is – this doesn’t all have to happen in one week! Most students and graduates will tell you that while Freshers week can be fun and exciting, it is ultimately a long week of telling people your name, where you’re from and what you study all while attempting to avoid Freshers flu (which you will get) and feeling the pressure to interact even when you’re exhausted and can’t possibly retain anymore new names. So remember, even if Freshers’ week doesn’t live up to your expectations or if you prefer the quiet life as opposed to party-central, don’t feel like it was a wasted opportunity or that it will taint the rest of your student experience. Enjoy Freshers’ Week how YOU want to enjoy it – whether it involves too much alcohol, a packed nightclub and eating kebabs on the kerb at 4am or enjoying daytime events, exploring your new University and having quiet nights in getting to know new friends.
Don’t forget to check out our freshers’ week guide here.