So, Freshers’ Week is over, and you’re sitting in your room nursing a hangover and wondering if you’ll ever get through that 5kg bag of macaroni that your mum bought you the day you moved into halls. Perhaps you’re staring at a collection of grubby traffic cones that you and your new flatmates liberated from University Avenue over the course of the week; perhaps you’re already nose-deep in your first textbook of the year. Perhaps you’re suddenly conscious of the fact you don’t enjoy your flatmate’s nearby guitar noodling as much as you thought you did. But anyway, hangover aside, you sit and think “Did I enjoy Freshers’ Week?”
Well, the thing is, it’s completely okay if the answer is “nope.”
Basically, Freshers’ Week is touted as one of the best weeks you’ll have at university. A delightful, week-long extravaganza of new pals, new experiences, and managing to repeatedly get lost in the West End. The sense of fun is almost hysterical at points, overwhelming in its magnitude. Everyone, from student unions to clubs to insurance companies, is pouncing on your tentative steps into the world of university. Everyone wants to be your friend. You’ve got so many friend requests and you barely recognise any of them. Was that the guy who tried to get you into a philosophical conversation about the Muppets, or was that the guy from outside the Hive who loudly threw up on your shoes? Who knows? Better accept just in case.
Whilst it may seem like Freshers’ Week is some litmus test for how you’ll be as a student, it really doesn’t have to be the case. Truth be told – it’s okay if you secretly hated the whole damn lot of it. It’s okay if you had a wee cry the first night and an even bigger cry the next. It’s okay if you didn’t really make any friends, or at least nobody you particularly want to see again. The problem with Freshers’ Week is that it often isn’t nearly as fun as one might imagine it to be, and there’s often more loneliness, homesickness, food poisoning, and confusion than any university would like to admit.
You’d be amazed at how many other freshers are also having a bit of a mediocre time, but don’t feel like they can admit it. Once you realize that everyone is in the same boat, you’ll feel a lot better about being lost at sea! Remember, there’s no shame in being open about the fact that you’re not having the best time, because you’re by no means the only one. You’ll be met with sympathy rather than scorn as you huddle in your duvet watching Netflix because you can’t face the thought of yet another night getting “on it” with people you barely know. Be honest with yourself and your new friends about what you want and need, and be kind and supportive of each other. You’ll need that supportiveness well beyond first year, believe it.
The important thing to remember is that more likely than not, it’s all uphill from here. Finding your feet takes time, but you’ll get there before you know it. Even if you never experience one definitive moment in which everything magically seems to fall into place, at some point in the future you will certainly be looking back at this strange, unsettling time and thinking, “things are so much better now.” So don’t obsess over the experiences you think you ought to be having, and don’t beat yourself up if you feel like you aren’t doing Freshers’ Week right, because there is no right or wrong way to enjoy your time at university. Accidentally having the time of your life over a good cup of tea and some hilarious board games is just as valid as appearing in The Tab’s “clubber of the week” feature. The chances are that your most precious memories from uni will be of the good times you had when you were least expecting it, so don’t beat yourself up if all this frantic partying and enforced socialising just isn’t doing it for you.
Fundamentally, if you didn’t have fun this Freshers’ Week, that’s okay. It’s understandable. Whether you’re a Fresher or not, this week of boozing, Union rivalry, and club PR leaflet carnage is often not nearly as fun as it declares itself to be. Perhaps you had a wonderful week, and will treasure the many stolen traffic cones in your flat for months to come. Perhaps you had an awful week, and are just desperate for classes to begin and for University Avenue to be cleansed of Viper PR. Maybe your week was just about okay. Regardless, rejoice in the fact you made it and it’s over now.
[Morgaine Das Varma and Cat Acheson]
This article first appeared in qmunicate’s 2016 Freshers’ Week zine