It’s that time of year again when across the UK (and a lot of other countries) young people are heading back for another year of school, college and university. I’m about to start my second year of uni, so inevitably I’ve been thinking a lot about how I was feeling this time last year. It was not the best time for me.
This year I am working as a mentor, so I have some new first year students assigned for me to email and meet up with and generally help out as they settle in to university. All of them have said in their emails how nervous they are about things like feeling homesick, meeting new people, living alone. One thing which has been mentioned a lot is Freshers’ Week.
For anyone who doesn’t know – I don’t know how it varies in different countries – Freshers’ Week is the first week of the university year. It’s when everyone moves in but before lectures start, a week filled with all sorts of exciting events to help new students get to know the uni and city. It’s something that really gets hyped up, it’s meant to be the best week of the year and all these new freshers go out partying every night and are drunk the entire time and you meet all your new best friends and go wild because you don’t live with your parents any more, etc. etc. But from my experience and from talking to people this year, I think all that hype is actually too much pressure.
I enjoyed my Freshers’ Week. I went clubbing as many times that week as the rest of my life (i.e. twice) and met some cool people, and did some events that weren’t to do with drinking (shock horror). But people like me who don’t like clubbing often worry that they will have to go to lots of big parties, and that can be quite worrying. I was also very overwhelmed and homesick, so I wanted some time just to be by myself in my new room. And there are so many events going on, it’s often hard to know where to begin.
But the thing is, Freshers’ Week isn’t the be all and end all of your university life. It’s just the beginning. There’s the opportunity to go to clubs and parties all the time if you want to, and if you don’t want to you don’t have to. And I carried on meeting new people and making friends all the way through last year, and I’m sure I will again this year.
So if you’re starting uni in the next few weeks, I’m not saying Freshers’ Week will be bad. It is a really good opportunity to enjoy yourself before classes start, and I think it is important, in that week at least, to put yourself a bit out of your comfort zone and try new things. But don’t worry about it, if you want to have a night off then you’re not going to miss out on everything from that point onwards. And it really isn’t as big a deal as people often make out.