If you're not a naturally extroverted person like myself,, moving to university might feel like the scariest thing you've ever done. For me, Freshers’ week was a blur, and I don’t have particularly fond memories of the bits I do remember. It was busy, there was way too much going on and I was torn between staying in my room and hiding from it all, and forcing myself to get out and socialise.
I didn’t enjoy Freshers’ week, but I definitely can say, without a doubt, I have had the time of my life at university. I’m just about to enter my third and final year, and I am absolutely not ready to leave yet.
But when people say Freshers’ week is the best week of your life, I’d bank on the fact they’re not being entirely accurate. I can confidently say that for most if not all of my friends, Freshers’ week was not the best week of their lives.
Problems with Freshers’ week
For me, Freshers' week was problematic in a number of ways. Firstly, there was way too much going on. I’m not really one for spontaneity, especially in a new city with new people. So when I arrived at university and got a timetable of all the events happening that week, I tried to plan everything. I highlighted everything I wanted to go to, and I quickly realised there was just too much happening for me to do everything.
The other problem I had was that I didn’t want to do things on my own. I didn’t want to have to turn up somewhere and force myself to talk to people and make friends. It made me feel incredibly anxious, and with all the other changes happening at the time, I just wasn’t confident enough to do that. This meant that I had to try to find people to go with to all the events I wanted to go to. I went to a few events with my flatmates, which was a great way to bond with them and get to know them better, but I also missed out on a few things I really wanted to do because I was too scared to go on my own. The few times I did nearly pluck up the courage to go alone, I later gave in and stayed in my flat because I didn’t think I’d find the right place, or I was worried that no-one else would turn up.
Tips on making the most out of Freshers' week…or just making it through!
Get yourself out there – This is my number one top tip, which is far easier said than done, I know. Don’t be afraid to go to things on your own – I wish I’d had more confidence, because towards the end of the week when I did start going to things by myself, I enjoyed them and found the people I met there to be really lovely.
Societies – They are a really great way of making friends at university – some of my best friends are people I’ve met through societies. It’s important to remember you’re all in the same boat – very few people are going to go to university with their close friends, so everyone is willing to make new ones.
Chat to people – There’s so much to talk about in Freshers' week that you should be able to hold a conversation for a few minutes at least. You can chat about where they’re from, where they’re living at uni, what course they’re doing, what else they’ve been up to this week, what other plans they have… This is also a great way to make plans to meet up again – you might find that you’re doing the same course, or that you live nearby, or that you’re interested in going to the same event later in the week. Reaching out to people is so important, because the chances are they’re feeling just as nervous about the whole thing as you are.
And…even if you still really hate Freshers week, hope is not lost!
It’s far easier to give all this advice being on the other side of the big, intimidating fence that is Freshers' week, but honestly, it’s completely okay if you’re just like me and do not enjoy it. Like I’ve said, that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy university. After Freshers week things calm down a lot, and there’s far less pressure to do things: you can take it all at your own pace. A lot of societies will have welcome socials in the first few weeks, and I’d really advise you to go along to them.
You’ll soon find your stride, and you’ll find people who like doing the same things as you. Don’t put pressure on yourself to have the best time during Freshers' week, because you’ve got years left to do that – not all of university is like Freshers' week, you’ll be glad to know!
There’s always next year
Chances are, once you’ve had a year at university you’ll be ready and raring to go for Freshers' week in second year – you’ll know more people, feel more comfortable in the city you’re living in, and be ready to hit the ground running. For me, I opted to join Welcome Team at my university – this is the team of students who help first years move into their accommodation and get settled, then throughout the week are visible on campus and in town to offer advice, directions or even just lend an ear to someone who wants to chat (or cry), both during the day and at night. This was ideal – I got to do Freshers' week my way, still being present in it but from the other side. I still went to a few events and spent time with my friends, but I felt far more in control. If there’s something like this at your university and it sounds like something you’d enjoy and which would allow you to enjoy Freshers' week, I would definitely recommend it.