Freshers’ Week is completely unpredictable. With so many new faces and places, it’s easy to get lost in yourself and your new surroundings. I’ve put together this guide to help you navigate everything that’s going on so you can make the most of your time during Freshers’ Week. It covers everything from events to free stuff and just a little taste of what to expect, hopefully without spoiling any surprises.
This guide to Freshers’ is based off my experience when I started at the University of Edinburgh. Every university and college is different but it might give you some pointers on what to expect for the crazy week that is coming.
There are so many things to do during Freshers’ Week that it can be somewhat intimidating or at least it was for me. I remember receiving a booklet in the mail before I moved which included all the events that were on around the university. I attempted to plan my week by deciding on some things I wanted to go to and when they were but as I didn’t know who I would go with, it was never set in stone. They ranged from The Welcome Ball and film screenings to a university club night with an appearance from Cascada.
What I didn’t realise before I was accepted to university was that not all events during Freshers’ were free. Nothing was horrendously expensive but if you do want to make an attendance at a lot of things, it can add up. I don’t know if this is always the case but my university sold wristbands for £40 that got you into any event you wanted during the week. I originally hesitated to buy one because I wasn’t convinced that I was going to attend £40 worth of events and would end up wasting money instead of saving. In the end, I did and I think it was for the best because it encouraged me to be a bit more social and broaden my horizons.
Delve into a few events that you might not on a regular basis. On my second night, my flatmates and I went out and saw a reggae band before going to ‘Massaoke’ at the university club, both of which I’d never done before. Funnily enough, on the last day of my first year, the same reggae band were playing at the student union which seemed like a fitting end. Honestly, the best piece of advice I can give you is to go to a ceilidh. They are so fun and exhausting that it gives you the best work out of your life. Though beware of getting trodden on by high heels and brush off any judgement from snobby dancers.
The Nitty Gritty Stuff
Whilst Freshers’ is a lot about partying and having fun, it is also a week used for admin and registration. Make sure to keep checking your university inbox because it’s likely that you will have to attend welcome talks and matriculation meetings with your personal tutor. Make sure to use the week for your own administrative work too. Have you got insurance and a TV license for your flat? Changed your address for any mail you may receive from the bank or subscriptions?
Learn your student number by heart, it can crop up so many times when you’re matriculating that it’s best to have it to hand. That being said, it will probably be on your student card which you should get during your first week so it’s not the end of the world if it takes you a while to remember. I received my card along with the keys to my new flat but you may have to go to an office or library for yours. Keep it with you at all times because if your university is like mine, you will need it to get into many buildings and rooms.
Familiarise yourself with your campus(es). At universities as large as Edinburgh, there is often more than one campus and different subjects/schools call one or more home. Whilst my degree is part of Edinburgh College of Art, I am based on the main university campus away from every other art degree. Learning where you’re going will save you the stress and panic of not knowing where your first lecture is less than an hour before it starts. Don’t be afraid to ask for directions, there are usually plenty of Student Union representatives on hand and willing to help.
Don’t go all out on a food shop as soon as you arrive at university. During Freshers’ Week, you will eat so much free pizza that it’ll probably cover you for at least one meal a day. I remember walking through George Square and seeing representatives from Dominos and Pizza Hut debating about which pizza was better, all in good humour of course. It’s obvious that you’ll need other food to last you through the week but don’t expect to stick to a full-on meal plan with raw ingredients because it’s likely a lot will go to waste.
One of the best things about Freshers’ is all the free stuff you get and it’s not just the food. I picked up so many pens that week that I never had to buy any for the rest of the year I’m still using them now! There was an event during my Freshers’ called a ‘free Shop,’ which was basically a giant giveaway for anything and everything from students who no longer needed them. If there is something similar that you can also attend, get there early because the queue can be hundreds of people long.
As I am not much of a party-goer I didn’t expect to get Freshers’ Flu, which in hindsight was a silly assumption to make because being in a completely different environment with new people is the best way for germs to get around. Make sure that you have a little medicinal/first aid kit ready for when you likely get ill during your first weeks at university even if it’s paracetamol and a hot water bottle at the very least. Make sure you stay as cosy as possible in fluffy socks, blankets and hoodies and you’ll hopefully feel better soon. I also had had ibuprofen and essentials like plasters in my flat as well because you never know when you’re going to need them and it’s better to have them before you need them.
Societies and clubs are kind of a given in any students’ life. It’s a bit strange coming from a secondary school with limited options unless you played an instrument or football to there being a group for everything you could possibly imagine. It’s perfect for trying out new hobbies or developing old ones and a great place to meet people with similar interests to you. Don’t go all out and sign up for ten different societies because you’ll never manage to make every meeting and still keep on top of all your coursework. Fairs are a great way to meet representatives and get a feel for a society you might want to join but remember that you don’t have to sign up just because you had a little chat with them. Ask about membership fees, meetings and any potential requirements, like auditions and tryouts.
Of course, the main point of Freshers’ Week is to have fun and make friends. Whilst being in a new environment can be scary, I think that university brings out the best version of you. You’ll discover new things about yourself that you had no idea existed before and it’s wonderful to let go of some of the anxieties that you may have had in the past. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do it all right away and just go with the flow. I hope you all have a wonderful time at university and remember to study every now and then.
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