8 Important Things I Would Tell My Fresher Self If I Could
It’s that time of year again, Freshers’ Week is just around the corner for thousands of newly-independent first year students. With all the new people, new freedoms, endless kitchen appliances and access to alcohol, it can be easy to get carried away by the excitement that is the first few weeks of university.
I got lots of things right in my first year, but I also got a hell of a lot of things wrong. In retrospect, these are the nine things I wish I could tell my Fresher self…
1. You will not meet your best friend on the first day, but make sure that you could.
During the first days of university you will encounter hundreds of faces – literally hundreds – and chances are you will never see any of them again during your entire university career. You will probably not meet your best friend on the day that you move in, but you should make yourself approachable nonetheless. Bring a crate of beer and box of cookies to your new shared kitchen, pin your door back and offer to make everybody a cup of tea; you’ll be making friends in no time. Real friends, not just people that you drunkenly add on Facebook…
2. Don’t be pressured into spend money you don’t have.
Freshers’ Week provides ample opportunities to spend the entirety of your student loan, your life savings, and the money your Grandma stuffed into your hand before you headed off.
With club nights, hundreds of societies to join, student shopping nights and lots of new friends suggesting cinema trips and pizza, your money can easily disappear in days.
There will always be people at university with more money than you, don’t be pressured into a friendship group by the mean of spending. Watch your cash, it has to last until Christmas.
3. Don’t be the person that heads home every weekend.
Heading home at the weekend will mean that you miss out on most of the fun; nights out, days out, a Saturday morning fry up in the kitchen, with lectures and seminars out of the way for two days, weekends are the optimum time for making friends in your first year, so don’t miss out.
4. But don’t completely forget, or pretend to forget, that you had a life before university.
Conversations with friends from home and photos on the wall will provide comfort during those days that feel really rubbish. Yes, university is about making new friends and the start of adult life, but you cannot recreate or forget the first eighteen years of your life in a matter of weeks, it’s okay to take comfort from home.
5. Go out!
Not only are you now old enough for nights out, but you are probably living in an entirely new city, maybe even a new country, and with an entirely new group of people – go out and explore.
Visiting the bars and clubs, heading to the beach, nights out at the cinema, even just a wander round and a coffee on a Sunday afternoon with a flatmate, make sure you make the most of your new environment.
6. But don’t be the person that never turns up to a lecture or seminar before 1pm.
Staying wrapped up in bed ignoring your alarm is not the way to start your degree. Universities operate like workplaces, the majority of your contact hours will at least begin before midday.
Not only will you be hated by your fellow seminar students, labelled as the one that doesn’t know anything, doesn’t do any work and is the worst group work partner, you will also literally be sleeping away your money.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Freedom can be scary, confusing and sometimes even lonely. There are lots of new challenges that you will be facing on a daily basis, some may be challenges that you’ve tackled before, some that you may have never encountered – whatever the nature, it’s okay to ask for help.
Not sure how to cook a Spaghetti Bolognese? Feeling under the weather with some funny symptoms? Call your mum, call your dad, call your best friend – even call the countless helplines and support services available to you as a student. Independence doesn’t mean going through life alone.
8. But most importantly, just make the most of your first year.
This year will be the most exciting, scary, and fun-filled of your life so far. (Probably). No, Freshers’ Week will not be life changing, but there’s more than five days to your first year.
You will become independent, make mistakes, make friends, potentially meet a new partner and do a hell of a lot of growing up.