Freshers’ Week: one of the most challenging weeks of a young person’s life. It asks you to get drunk and go out with complete strangers whilst simultaneously demanding you make as good a first impression as possible.
Now it may just be me, but this somehow seems counter-intuitive; the drunk version of myself can hardly be said to best represent my character. I am proud to say, however, that I threw myself into Freshers’ as much as possible and although I had the anticipated pang of loneliness and the general feeling of cluelessness, surely everyone else did at one point or another? Freshers’ Week turned out much less daunting than expected and though I wouldn’t go as far as saying it was a success (can Freshers’ Week truly be successful?), I did find solace in the fact that every first year was in exactly the same boat.
“down it fresher!” are probably three of the most ominous words that can be uttered to a fledgling university student
Weirdly, the drinking side of Freshers’ Week was perhaps the least worrying part for me; I’m not some low-key alcoholic binge drinker but I wouldn’t count myself as new to the game. For many though, the level of alcohol consumption is concerning and “down it fresher!” are probably three of the most ominous words that can be uttered to a fledgling university student. I must profess that I was one of the lucky ones and this didn’t happen to me during the week. It does, however, pose an interesting question: is your ability to down a pint as quickly as possible an indicator of ‘fresher success’?
For many It’s the first time they truly experience real freedom
Student life has become synonymous with drinking copious amounts of alcohol and, to some extent, perhaps this is what Freshers’ is about. For many, it’s the first time they’re away from the comfort of their homes and the security of their parents. It’s the first time they truly experience real freedom; no-one is going to tell you you’re drinking too much, or to go to your 9am the next day. Does this freedom therefore perpetuate a culture of university binge drinking? The answer isn’t a simple one but Freshers’ Week would certainly point you in that direction. Ultimately, however, university is about doing what you want to do and yes, there is a social pressure surrounding drinking and a norm that expects all students to partake in it, but the wider point is that you make your experience what you want it to be.
Looking back a week or so later, Freshers’ Week is an isolated, one-off event, never to be experienced again as a first year, so what is there to lose by tackling it head on? Whether Freshers’ Week is the best introduction to university life, I’m not sure. What it does provide, however, is a flavour of what the rest of the year, and potentially your university career, will look like and a chance for every new student to reinvent themselves and be the person that they really want to be.