Fresher’s week is a period of time which anybody who has ever dived into the choppy ocean that is university life will have to withstand. Of course, being the newbie on campus is thrilling, exhilarating and, as the label would suggest, fresh. With all this nervous excitement bubbling, it’s easy to dive a little too deep reciting the ‘YOLO’ mantra, and end up poorly, sluggish and (worst of all!) broke, until your next loan instalment comes in. Take a minute to back up and consider a few guidelines, and you’ll survive Fresher’s week far better than the student who has to retreat home to recover from the assault.
It begins with a ‘B,’ it’s ominous, and nobody wants to talk about it; it’s the budget. As a fresher, you will be bombarded with invites to foam parties, toga parties, American style frat parties, housewarming parties, cosmopolitan cocktail parties and so on. Of course, it’s only natural to want to be part of everything and socialise with as many fellow Freshers as possible, but you can’t escape the sad fact of studenthood; your loan will only stretch so far.
Splashing out too liberally on tickets to every party under the sun includes the almost obligatory purchase of drinks. Pre-drinks, arrival drinks, more drinks, one last round followed by a fried breakfast late morning at the nearest pub to assuage your hangover. Drinks in London, even those at parties specifically thrown for students, are not cheap. Rather than buying hundreds of tickets, perhaps slow down and ask around. Which events are going to be the ones worth spending your money on? Which ones are your new friends going to? Invest in those, and maybe throw a flat party as an alternative to a pricey night out. A flat party with a decent vibe is just as much fun as a night in the city. And if you insist on a fry up, crack out the new non-stick pan your parents bought you and make your own!
One thing freshers in London often struggle with is knowledge of travel. If you come from a town far removed from London, you might never have heard of the Oyster card, and information about it is often jumbled and sparse. Buying a single tube ticket to central without an Oyster can clock up to nearly £5 per journey and you’ll struggle to visit all the fantastic places in London with rates like that.
Go online at tfl.gov.uk, and get yourself a student Oyster card, which remains valid until your date of graduation. Travel is radically cheaper if you top up on a pay and go basis. Also, if you speak to the Underground staff and ask them to link your student Oyster up with your 16-25 railcard (purchasable from any train station in the country, or online), you’re looking at about £1.40 a journey! So when you get a minute, visit tfl.gov.uk and make that worthwhile investment.
Finally, it goes without saying that you must meet and mingle with as many people as possible. If you’re not a people person, shaking hand upon hand and learning name upon name can be quite tiring. However, hiding in your room will not get you the most out of your university experience. There are numerous ways to make friends. Get to know your flatmates by arranging a pizza night. Meet people who share your interests by joining a society or a sports team. Interact with people on your course by getting a group together for a coffee or some drinks at the SU. Remembering that everybody is in the same boat is often a soothing thought if you’re feeling on edge.
Although every student’s experience of fresher’s is different, it is often recalled with swathes of wistfulness. Of course, it’s easy to look back and laugh at how you spent the remaining three months of semester one living off pasta and marmite, or being so hungover you missed out on a place in a sports team you really wanted to join.
Fresher’s is arguably one of the most exciting weeks life has to offer and you’re going to have an incredible time. However, it shouldn’t impact too heavily on the rest of your first year at university. Just remember that Fresher’s is an exciting week, but many exciting weeks will follow!