Freshers' Week, from first-hand experience:
Heading to uni this autumn? Take some advice from those who've already been there...
Moving in/Meeting new people
- Get there early. Otherwise it will take you days to unpack because you will be really busy!
- Make sure your door is open while you're unpacking. That way, people can see you exist - it's a guaranteed way to meet people. You might also like to put up a big sign with your name/course on your room door.
- As soon as you know one person, go round knocking on everyone's door in your flat/block with them. You will be less nervous in a pair and you can then meet quite a few people. Get each new person to join you on your rampage!
- When you first arrive, make your bed. Then, when you get tired of unpacking and meeting people, you have a refuge for the night.
- Put things on the wall of your room straight away. It helps you feel at home.
- Get your computer set up so you can put on some music (nothing too controversial for the moment). You'd be surprised how many people will come and say "Hey! I love that song!" or use "Hey, I heard the music earlier..." as a conversation starter.
- Don’t be afraid to start up random conversations with people you just happen to be standing next to while waiting for something – that is how you make your new friends. Chances are, they're just as nervous as you and will welcome the chance to have a conversation without having to start it themselves!
- Keep a smile on your face. Plenty of smiling is always a good thing! It makes people want to talk to you.
- When you sit next to someone new in a class or lecture, introduce yourself. It'll feel a bit odd but 'Hallo, my name is ... and I'm from ....' is the way to begin good friendships.
- Go to as many social events and organised things as possible. It may be exhausting, and you're unlikely to remember everyone later, but the more people you meet now, the more you can say "Hey, I remember you!" to later.
- Don't stop talking to random people just because freshers' week finishes. Keep going and keep meeting people. As people settle in they will be more relaxed and everyone will feel less like they are on best 'friend-making' behaviour.
- After your first few classes or lectures, as everyone disappears through the door, say "Anyone fancy a coffee?" because they've all been desperately hoping someone would. If you all just slink off home, friendships never get a chance to develop.
Getting to know the Uni
- Many unis publish freshers' week schedules on their websites or on the Students' Union website (you might also find people who know about them on TSR). Finding out what’s happening in advance might give you a headstart on what fancy dress outfits you need!
- Make sure you have some cash on your first night for drinks in the bar, there may not be a cash machine close at hand.
- Have a few taxi numbers in your phone contacts, just in case.
- Don't worry if you're a bit nervous about going out - it can be a scary time for any fresher because you're still getting to know people.
- Second and third year students are helpful people to approach for advice on which events to go to. They are also usually the people who are selling tickets for the different nights.
- You can look at the different nights which are available on the uni notice boards. TSR - and the [Student Life section in particular - can also help you find out more about nights out.
- Tickets always sell out for the most popular events, so make sure you get them early!
- Girls: as daft as it may look, bring a pair of flats in a bag and check it into the cloakroom if you're in heels. A Tesco bag will suffice. You can squeeze your coat - and a friends' - into a more presentable bag to save on the cost. This is especially handy if your halls are miles away from the club (for instance, if you're at uni in London). Nights out can last longer than anticipated - so you could be walking for hours in random places (if, say, the bus driver kicks you off for drunkenly laughing at him...). Carrying a large/Tesco bag is more dignified than waddling in agony. And less painful.
- If you're in London, make sure you've got enough credit on your Oyster card. The amount of valuable drinking/dancing time lost by waiting for a whole group to top up is startling.
Money & budgeting
- Don’t sign up for everything at your Freshers’ Fair if they want money straight away. Put your name down, go away and think about it.
- Plan your budget for freshers' week. Many people spend too much on alcohol and don't have much money left for other activities or for further on in the year. Planning in advance always helps.
- Wear an extra layer of clothes on colder nights/days when you're home, snuggle up in socks and robes and throws for nights in so that you don't need the heating on full pelt. You could even watch telly in bed to keep warm to save on the heating. Get a hot water bottle to hug when the temperature drops.
- Pal up with other roomies so you can buy in stuff like rice, pasta and quinoa in bulk.
- Buy a selection of store cupboard essentials like salt, pepper, herbs, spices, soups, and other dried stuff you use on a regular basis.
- Try to keep in a few tins of beans and tomatoes and the like: perfect for emergency meals.
- Eat together where possible... Have a curry evening or a spaghetti bolognese and take it in turns with your neighbours to host it. It works out way cheaper than cooking for one, and if you host your meal and run out of cash for food later in the week, at least you know dinner is being provided by one of your mates!
- When winter comes, take it in turns to spend the evening in each other's rooms so that you're not heating rooms for just one or two people. Take turns to have TV nights with a few cans or whatever, which again saves on fuel for heating and appliances. Maybe whoever hosts dinner could host the whole evening. Even if it's only once or twice a week and you keep a roster for it, the savings on food and fuel could be significant.
- Cook more than you need and freeze some for another day. It saves money, both on food and on fuel used for cooking.
- Invest in a decent set of pans. "General advice"-sounding, but you'll be surprised how many people will moan about their standard set. Or had to buy replacements.
- If your home is quite close to your uni, and you're worried about your standard of cooking, ask your parents nicely to cook you some meals in advance. A freezer full of Tupperware boxes packed with wholesome food is a genuinely wonderful thing. You'll find you're not the only one who'll do this.
- Try to do your shopping online. As fun as popping to the supermarket will be during freshers' week, it'll soon become a chore. Simply carrying the heavy bags will probably put you off, but there are plenty of other benefits. You're less likely to impulse buy, and you'll save plenty of time. Delivery costs aren't too bad - and you can always order with another flatmate.
- ALWAYS let people know where you're going and who with.
- There's safety in numbers: try to stick with a group of people.
- Familiarise yourself with the new area before going out. There's nothing nice about being lost, in the dark, on your own!
- If you're unsure of an area, get around by taxi or bus.
- Have a friend call you at a certain time to check you're OK if out alone or with someone you don't know well.
- Have a contact on speed dial in case of emergencies.
- Save a number in your phone for your next of kin saved under ICE (in case of emergency). If something happens, the emergency services may look for it in order to gain a contact number.
- NEVER leave your drinks unattended at any time.
- If you're anticipating a bit of a wild night, be sure to carry a condom or two 'just in case'. This one is for boys AND girls! You can get a free stash from many health centres and Brook clinics.
- Sign up with a GP and dentist as soon as you can.
- Indoors, make sure you know your GP's number and keep it where you can easily find it in case you're unwell.
- Worst case scenario: if you feel threatened or are attacked in any way make LOTS OF NOISE! It will scare off people and alert people to you!
- Wear comfortable shoes to the endless registration meetings, you will be queueing for quite a while.
- Remember to take things like pens and your diary with you to registration and the Freshers' Fair if there is one - it'll help you to keep track of what you've signed up for/email addresses/websites and so on.
- Get ready to embrace the age-old custom of queueing all day in order give a piece of paper to someone and then get your photo taken!
- Always make sure you carry all the right paperwork and ID to all the registration events, and always make sure you are in the right queue - it saves time later.