I was too shy for Freshers. For one I rarely drink more than a couple of drinks (I was ill when I was 13, and it felt like I was constantly drunk. I genuinely don’t understand why I’d want to make myself feel like that!), and on top of the fact that I didn’t really know anyone, was missing my boyfriend like crazy and already starting to dislike my housemates I really wasn’t off to a great start. But I discovered you can have a good Fresher’s without drinking, without going out, without the ‘typical’ Fresher’s experience.
My absolute number one tip is to try and find people to meet before you go. Be they on your course or living near you, everything will seem so much better if you have someone to go over and say hi to. Facebook is the number one place to do this (your university halls and schools will often have fresher pages), as is The Student Room. I actually met one of my closest friends on Facebook before moving to university; we spent the first evening of Freshers together, and she introduced me to another of my best friends. Not sure how I would have survived starting university without the people I met beforehand!
I’d also go with reading about the official events planned for Freshers – there just might be something that interests you. Apart from going for a couple of casual drinks in the quieter bar, I didn’t actually go out on Freshers at all. Which brings me to my next point – I wouldn’t buy the wristbands you will no doubt be offered. Yes they might save you money, but more often than not you’ll have to commit to events when buying. New friends might end up going to different things, so it’s best just to wait and decide on the night.
And if you don’t drink, don’t. If you have the confidence, just say that you’re not drinking. No one will think bad of you, and I know a lot of people that will respect you more for saying so than playing along. If you’re too shy to admit to not drinking, take part in Sober October (note: this is not why I took part last year), or just be the first to get drinks. No one will know that the vodka-and-coke in your hand is actually sans vodka.
Now that (kind of) brings me onto Fresher’s Flu. This is a real thing, and you will probably get it. My friend Caroline had it really rather badly, and the episodes in both my years so far (it’s not just limited to first year!) have been made worse by health issues. Freshers Flu less than three months after a nose operation is not fun, though actually far more pleasant that have a dodgy nose. I digress, you didn’t come here to read about my nose problems. I recommend buying and taking vitamins, having orange juice on standby, and ingredients in the cupboard for nourishing noodle soup. And register at the local doctors as soon as possible after you move in.
If When you come down with FF, take it easy, dose up on paracetamol, and get plenty of sleep.
Not sure how useful my ramblings will be, but that’s my guide to Freshers. Just be yourself, don’t get pressured into anything, and you’ll be fine. I was terrified during Freshers week, but when I spoke about how I was feeling most people felt similarly. Most importantly, know that there is an opportunity to have a great Freshers if you’re not into going out or drinking.
What are your tips for starting university?