As a fresher myself not that long ago, I know there are probably a few things occupying your mind at the moment:
- What if it turns out I hate my course?
- What if my flatmates don’t watch Bake Off???
- Will my pet remember my face when I come home?
- All of the above.
If any of these sound familiar, you’re certainly not alone. Having just about survived and passed first year, I’ve put together a list of (hopefully) useful tips for Freshers’ Week and beyond.
For what’s supposedly the best week in the university timetable, Freshers’ Week can have a lot of pressure attached to it. Do things your own way, choose activities you want to do, get creative and take part in as many activities as possible. From Photography to Creative Writing to Art History Society, there’s something creative out there for everyone. You’re all in the same boat so get involved in stuff. Go to the activity, try something new, create something, just have a go.
Freshers’ Flu. You can run but you cannot hide. It will find you eventually. It isn’t exclusive to first years either – much like 1/3 expressed as a percentage it recurs. So stock up on the essentials – lemsip, tissues, honey etc. before you move in. It’ll save time, hassle and, probably most importantly, the health of Exeter’s other residents.
Your new flat
Having likely been faced with a new university bedroom in a completely unknown city, make your room feel like your own. Jazz it up and make it arty: add fairy lights, photos, art prints etc. There are a number of poster and plant sales throughout the year on campus and numerous creative stores in the city centre giving you plenty of opportunity to turn drab space into fab space. You might not think it (especially if you’re a humanities student – looking at you, five contact hours a week) but you’ll be spending a lot of time here over the next year, so you may as well make it as you as possible.
Give things time. Don’t rush into organizing a house for next year with people you’ve known all of three days. SPOILER ALERT: there’s actually enough accommodation for everyone and waiting a bit longer will be worth the wait. You’ll find your people. It’s just that creating your squad will take more than just a week.
There’ll be a society you sign up to and never attend once during the year. That’s okay, we’ve all been there – it’s a fact of life. You might also worry how you’ll balance your degree with creative, sport, or society pursuits. My advice for you? Prioritise the creative pursuits (said no lecturer ever, but hear me out). First year is a time for experimentation – whether that’s with your coffee or your creative endeavors. While your marks don’t necessarily count towards your end degree result, it’s a chance to trial different ways of managing your time. Make use of the spare time and throw yourself into something new.
Moving away for the first time means inevitably at some point you’ll be homesick. Message your friends and Skype your family and pets. That’ll help, as well as a healthy dose of Friends, chocolate digestives, or a darn good book. Congratulate yourself. You’ve moved away for the first time and you’re successfully keeping yourself alive. It’s the small victories that count.
The degree bit (technically the reason you’re here)
Conquer Cardiac and challenge Forum Hill – take a tour of campus, soaking up the wisdom of the post-Fresh or have a nosy where your classes will take place before the real work begins. You will get lost and walk up more hills than necessary so get ahead of the game to have a vague idea of where you’re going beforehand. Also, in the spirit of Arts & Lit, embrace all things bookish. Use the library – this large haven of knowledge is your friend. The majority of your course books are in there so it’ll save a pricey panicked last minute Amazon order.
Finally, if you don’t want to pay attention to any of the advice I’ve just given that’s completely fine – your experience as a first year is going to be totally unique. Be open minded and enjoy yourself. It doesn’t matter if you don’t quite know what you’re doing straight away, who does? What’s most important is to give things time. Say “yes” to as much as you feel you can and embrace your new found freedom.
One final tip – batch cooking is great. It saves time and money so invest in some Tupperware. It’ll be your new best friend.