Fresher’s week has finally commenced this year and as students take the plunge, diving deep into a year of intense academic studies and social activities, there still happens to be a lot of pressure that comes with being a fresher. It reminded me of the amount of anxiety that I felt in my first year to fit in. My personal experience as a Fresher along with some interesting research has really highlighted some of the fears and anxiety that new student’s face. From alcohol consumption to making friends and feeling pressured to have sex, it all boils down to two words: peer pressure.
In the frenzy that we call Fresher’s week, it is common for students to feel pressured to do things that make them uncomfortable to score social points. This includes getting involved in the huge drinking culture at university. A concerning survey by the NUS in 2018 found that 76% of students said there is an expectation to “drink to get drunk” and a further 70% of students surveyed said that other students drink alcohol to fit in with their peers. A friend of mine once told me that although her religious values dictate that consuming alcohol is impermissible, she still drinks to not feel left out when her friends get together. The truth is that nobody will hate you for opting out of drinking activities if it does not sit right with your values. There is an abundance of things you can do to make friends that do not involve alcohol.
However, it is important to note, settling into your social life at university will take time. Don’t barricade yourself to one group of people, instead, try to join a variety of societies so that you can bond with people who have similar interests to you. Most importantly, and some people forget to do this, talk to the people on your course, the people who sit next to you in lectures or seminars. After all, you are doing the same course so you’re bound to have something in common. The trick to forming lasting relationships is having a genuine vibe. It’s being authentic and true to yourself that will really spark a good social life.
This leads me to my next point: sex and dating definitely play a part in people’s experience of Fresher’s week and the first year, but are they blown out of proportion? Absolutely! People want to take advantage of the opportunity to meet new people, not just to make friends, but because it’s a whole new dating pool. It’s exciting but daunting too. Being a Fresher is all about firsts and new experiences but peer pressure often makes people do things that they’re not comfortable with just to seem cool. We’re treading into the territory of drunk nights, one night stands and jumping into relationships. However, university life is a journey. Why settle for cheap sex and drunk nights when you can develop real emotional connections. They take time, but when you do, it will be worth it.
Forming relationships at university is a natural process that happens over time. It doesn’t happen straight away but you will eventually make friends who are integral to your experience of university life. Don’t feel as if you have to give in to peer pressure just to have an active social life. Remember, instead of getting caught up in trying to make friends just go with the flow and let it happen. The best relationships, as well as experiences, are often the ones that happen most unexpectedly.