Fresher’s week is your introduction to life at uni. You get to find your way around campus, meet your tutors and start your student social life with a bang. Getting the best Fresher’s experience means balancing loads of different priorities, so which are the ten goals that you really need to meet during this crucial 7 days?
Be open and friendly and don’t try to put on an act – first impressions count. Mix with a wide variety of people by attending as many Fresher’s events as you can. Going to the Fresher’s Ball is a must. Universities put a lot of effort into organising these events and not joining in may get you branded ‘boring’ right from the word go.
That means your hall, your campus and the wider university but also the city or town where the uni is located. You might have access to some sort of cafeteria for food in the first couple of days, but this can easily blow your budget. Major objectives should be to find the nearest good value supermarket and where the laundrette is, as well as the cool places to meet up and chill with all those friends you’re making.
Most student rooms are not exactly 5* but you will have everything you need. They can feel a bit institutional though, so bring some stuff from home to create your own space. You can also have a lot of fun buying a couple of posters, cushions, plants or whatever makes you feel good. Be gentle on yourself if you feel a bit homesick now and again – that’s normal – and make sure you keep in touch with the family. They’ll be worrying and swapping news is good for everyone.
Going to uni is not all about clubbing and getting drunk. If that’s the limit of your social life, you are missing out. Universities have a huge range of clubs and societies that are well-run and can be the start of a life-long passion outside work. Take some time in Fresher’s week to check out what’s on offer and sign up for a couple of clubs that interest you.
This is harder than most students think. Not only do you need to get yourself organised so that you turn up to the right places at the right time, you need to make sure you aren’t left walking back to your hall alone in the small hours along a dark and lonely route. You also need to be sensible about safeguarding your stuff. Lock your room when you go out, don’t leave any personal stuff in communal areas and use lockers when you do sport. Guard your money, your bank cards and your laptop with your life.
Find out where your nearest pharmacy is. If you fall ill with flu, a chest infection, your asthma flares up, your wisdom teeth start to give you trouble or you decide you need to change your contraception, you need to be able to access medical care. There will be info about how to do all of this during Fresher’s week – so do it early.
You will get your timetable during Fresher’s week and most universities organise tours of the campus to show you where the computer facilities are, how the library works and how you access everything. Don’t miss these sessions as they will set you up for a great start to your course. Make sure you have all the basic stuff for taking notes and, if you can, get yourself a laptop and printer. It’s not essential to have your own computer, but it means that you can work in your room. Ask for one for Christmas from family or money towards one if you can’t make your loan stretch that far.
But don’t get everything on the reading list. Don’t forget that you will have access to books you may only need for one module in the university library. Get together with people doing the same course who live near to you and you buy one set of basic books while they get others – then keep swapping. Check out noticeboards for last year’s students flogging of their copies cheap.
While most students spend a bit more on the activities in Fresher’s week than in subsequent weeks, there’s no harm in making a plan of how to make your money last. You can work out how much you will have left after paying for your accommodation; work out how much money you have each month, and then each week. Some students prefer to take that amount of money out of their bank account at the start of the week, and then use cash to buy food, stuff and entertainment. You can see exactly what you have as you go through from day to day.
In Fresher’s week, most universities lay on food and entertainment either for free or at a reduced price. You will also be offered loads of other free branded goods – grab the lot; if you don’t use it, someone else might. Do swaps and make more new friends. Free food is particularly useful in the first week; it frees up more of your Fresher’s week budget for clubs, cinema and whatever activities you want to do.