What will Freshers Week be like this year?

group of university students having a picnic on campus

Here are the kind of events you might be able to expect from your students’ union, as well as tips for meeting people and making friends

You’ve got your uni place sorted and Freshers Week is just around the corner – but how will social distancing affect your social life in those exciting first few weeks of being a university student?  

Every university will have its own plan for Freshers Week, but here’s an idea of the kind of thing you can expect.

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There will probably be loads of virtual events to choose from

The good news is that loads of universities have got really creative about their digital events, so there should be plenty of fun stuff to get stuck into.

Virtual escape rooms are a popular choice, with freshers teaming up to beat the clock and solve fiendishly difficult puzzles. At the University of Sussex, you can choose to pick your own group or buy an individual ticket and get paired up with other students.

Sussex is also running an online ‘speed mates’ event – kind of like speed dating, but for making new friends instead of meeting potential love interests.

You’ll be able to party from the comfort of your own home with virtual club nights at universities including Leicester and Reading. All the tunes and none of the queuing – what’s not to like?

You could also choose to get your Gordon Ramsey on with virtual cooking lessons, show off the depths of your useless knowledge at an online pub quiz or settle into a Netflix watch party.

Find out exactly what’s on your university’s events calendar for Freshers Week 2020 by checking out its students’ union website.

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group of university students sitting on grass

There might be some in-person events, too

Some universities have decided to go entirely digital for Freshers Week, but others are mixing it up with a smattering of IRL events alongside their online offerings.

Students at the University of Sussex, for example, will be able to explore their new home with campus geocaching – a outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices.

And the University of Leeds is planning an outdoor food festival with bookable tables, outdoor DJ events and open-air cinema screenings, as well as laser tag and themed brunches with stage entertainment.

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And you’ll still be able to join loads of societies

Most universities will be running virtual fairs for freshers – here, you’ll be able to sign up for any societies or sports clubs that catch your fancy, as well as hopefully bag a few freebies and discount codes. You can never have too many branded ballpoint pens, after all.

You’ll also be able to ask members how they’re planning on safely running their societies or clubs this term – perhaps they’re moving their activities online or, if that’s not possible, they could be sticking to small, socially distanced outdoors events for now.

Here are a few reasons why it’s worth joining societies at uni.

students sitting in a halls bedroom together

You can socialise with your flatmates

When you move into halls or student housing, your flat or house will count as a household under coronavirus guidelines, meaning that you don’t have to follow social distancing guidelines around your flatmates.

You will need to follow social distancing guidelines when it comes to spending time with people who aren’t in your household though, and this includes how many people you are able to meet up with.

These guidelines change fairly often, but you can find the government’s regularly updated FAQs on coronavirus restrictions in England here. Here are the guidelines for Scotland, the guidelines for Wales and the guidelines for Northern Ireland.

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The nightlife won’t be quite the same

As of 27 August, nightclubs have still not been allowed to reopen because of the risk of spreading Covid-19.

Nightclub owners have been petitioning the government to let them reopen, with safety suggestions including asking everyone to wear face masks, only letting a certain number of people onto the dancefloor together and giving temperature tests on arrival.

Cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs are currently allowed to open, although you might find that you have to book timeslots in advance, and there will probably be limits on the size of group you can book for.

It’s also worth checking if there have been any temporary changes to the opening times of the bars run by your students’ union – quite a few universities are keeping some of their bars closed, or are running them on reduced opening times.

More like this: tips for not drinking during Freshers

group of friends sitting in a cafe together

But there are still loads of ways you’ll be able to make friends

The idea of meetings lots of new people at once might feel really daunting, but it’s worth remembering that pretty much everybody will be in the same position as you and will be actively trying to make friends.

Getting involved with online events, joining societies and buddying up with your flatmates are three great starting points for socialising.

You could also try following your university’s SU or any societies you’re interested in on social media to meet other members, get an idea of who’s who and, if you’re feeling extra brave, introducing yourself on there.

On TSR, you can find your university and chat to other students here, start a conversation with other students taking your course here or just talk about life as a university student generally here.

And when it comes to practical advice for making new pals, take a look at these tips from TSR members and these Freshers Week suggestions from students.

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