Fresher’s week is considered to be one of the most amazing weeks of your life in the run up to university. However, for me University was not nearly as exhilarating and scary as it was hyped up to be. I was lucky enough to go on a Gap Year after the end of school, meaning that when fresher’s week came around, living on my own and being responsible wasn’t such a surprise for me. However, as with going anywhere new, I was still nervous about a couple of things. Mainly being a year older than everyone else and also just about meeting a whole new bunch of people.
I was at my school for 11 years before going on my Gap Year and the hardest part of school for me were the pre-conceived ideas about me. Some of my friends had known me for the whole 11 year period and were always able to remind me of mistakes I had made growing up. At school I felt stuck, don’t get me wrong I have very fond memories of school and am still very close to my friends from there, but I still felt like once I was in a friendship group there was no way of moving. So when I adventured out on my Gap Year – which was the same when coming to Uni – I felt nervous and excited at the same time. I felt excited because the people I was going to meet had no idea who I was and I saw that as a chance to find out who I wanted to be and what friends I wanted to have. However, at the same time I was scared because for the past 11 years I had known nothing other than my school friends and, although now with hindsight I know I was stuck, back then I was very ignorantly happy. Looking back I can say that my gap year was one of the best years of my life and the friends I made during it are some of my closest because I realised something whilst in a foreign country on my own not knowing anyone. I realised that, despite what school cliques and groups had persuaded me to think, making friends is really not that hard.
When my sister was a fresher I remember her ringing me up halfway through her fresher’s week saying she was exhausted from being sociable all the time and having to go up to people and introduce yourself and find yourself a whole new friendship group. I, however, did not find this the case, when you move away from the school friendship groups you find that people who you like and who like you will become obvious – you wont be friends with them because you see them everyday and you sit together at lunch – you’ll find people you’re interested in who make you laugh and you will decide to make an effort with them. Being surrounded by thousands of people who you come in to contact with on an almost a daily, if not weekly basis, makes it is easier to find people who you click with. Most of my close friends from Uni, who aren’t in my halls, are people who I met in seminars or at lectures and made the effort to talk to and organise to meet up with outside of contact hours. This new aspect of friendships at Uni is the freedom to decide whom you want to spend your time with.
Another fear of leaving school and heading to Uni is the drinking and social aspect. You hear stories of how crazy fresher’s week is and how you don’t sleep for days and everyone has so much fun. For me that wasn’t the case, having been abroad for a year I was used to going out every night and drinking all day and, although am still very able to do it, I was not raring to go on every night out. I was lucky enough to have a flat who, although were really fun to go out with, felt the same way. During that first ‘crazy’ week we went out a lot but we also had some nights at home. Two days in, on the first Monday of term, the girls in my flat had a girls night in and, although we may not have had the full ‘fresher’s experience’, we did have fun and had an amazing fresher’s week that was more suited to us.
My advice for future fresher’s is to have as much fun as possible during fresher’s but make sure that ‘fun’ is your definition of the word. If your idea of a fun fresher’s is having some nights off then go for it, you wont be missing out on that much I promise you. Also treat Uni as a new start, it’s the one week when you can literally walk up to anyone and introduce yourself and its not considered weird because everyone is in the same situation of being away from home and being out of their comfort zone. So take advantage of this, meet as many new people as possible, some you may never talk to again whilst others may turn out to be life long friends. The main thing to remember is to be yourself and stick with it, you’ll find your feet eventually even if it takes a couple of weeks, we’ve all been there.