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freshers' week

first published on oilzine.com

Freshers' week is almost upon us, again. Which gives ankle-biters an exciting new chapter of their life and the older ones amongst us the chance to reminisce about irresponsible wasted youth.

In honour of this glorious time, filled with hopes and dreams that had yet to be crushed, here's our guide on how we survived University and ended up with such good jobs.

Your life at university will give you an unprecedented level of freedom and independence. Enjoy it now; as you won’t get a better chance in your whole life to do what you want, when you want. Later life brings the assorted joys of work, marriage, poverty, children, death (not necessarily in that order – although, admittedly, death usually comes at the end).

When you first arrive you’ll feel like you’re the only person in the world who's lonely: everyone else will be having a better time / have made more friends / not have been homesick at all. Don’t worry, everyone feels the same, and the best method to get over this snivelling self-pity is alcohol. And your first week will be filled with the stuff.

Freshers’ week has the reputation of being one big piss-up. In my experience the reputation is deserved, although no more so than any other week of university life.

It is the time when you first encounter the intricacies of student life. You learn that beer is nice, sex is easy and freely available, that shouting and laughing loudly is hilarious and makes you seem popular and, after too much of the aformentioned, that (you think in a cutie, naive way) life is a wonderful invention.

The main objective of freshers’ week is to make you feel relaxed, so naturally booze and sex are actively encouraged. There’ll be plenty of alcohol promotions on at the union bar, gigs to see, and of course older, wiser students wanting to take advantage of these facts (remember that it’s called "fuck a fresher week"). But don’t worry if you don’t get a shag in freshers’ week, most people don’t, they just say they did to their mates back home.

There are, of course, other things going on during freshers’ week. There’s the freshers’ fayre, and it’s the week when you get to know your campus and have to do all the official bits.

The fayre will be held in some hall on campus, and when you enter you’ll be confronted by lots of people and tables. These are the Societies (which'll range from Socialist Worker to X-Files Club to the ‘wacky’ and ‘zany’ Free Lager For Elephants Society – you crazy guys).

Societies are good for making friends, and you can develop genuine interests that you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life, they’re even something for your CV. BUT don’t just join every society going, they cost money and you can always join at a later date.

The other thing to remember about the freshers’ fayre is that there’ll be lots of freebies on offer. If you want to take advantage, go early. You’ll get everything from calendars to posters to toothpaste to condoms. There will be lots of shite on offer, but if it’s free, it must be worth having.

The official bits of your new life do need completing, though. This will be a long arduous process. Filling in forms, standing in queues, talking to weirdoes.

There are benefits to this process and the most important one is the NUS card. This will entitle you to discounts at takeaways and high-street shops, and give you access to the union bar and other student facilities (sports centre etc.) It is well worth the boredom of getting it.

Because of all these exercises, your best friend during the registration time will be the humble passport photo. You will need millions of them.

During your first week at University you should also take time to familiarise yourself with the town / city you’ve landed in. Find the best clubs, bars, takeaways, get to know the layout of the campus, i.e. where the computer room is (this one of the few times in your life you’ll have free internet access and plenty of time, don’t waste the opportunity)

You should also register with the doctor and dentist. Sounds a bit boring, but you don’t know when you’ll need them (and when you do, there’ll be lots of paperwork before treatment).

Click here to read more about accommodation, eating, money, and the Golden Rules.

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all text + design © Stephen Pryke