When I moved down to Exeter as an underweight bookworm last year, armed with little but a Wilko’s crockery kit and the dream of becoming a dashing student of the Humanities, nobody ever warned me about homebrew vodka. Let me be the first to tell you: if your new flatmate offers you a swig of their 40% distilled regional spud juice, be smart: ask for tap water. Otherwise, there’s a decent chance that your first night in halls will end like mine did; being tucked into bed by someone who you will never see again. Well, you hoped that. Tomorrow morning, you will discover they live on the same floor and would like to borrow some sellotape, if that’s quite alright.
Luckily, my Freshers’ Week picked up from there; the Xpression drop-in sessions got me hooked on live radio, a platform I never saw myself playing in when I was undergoing speech therapy for a stutter a few years ago. Picnicking with the 2017/18 Exeposé editors was a blessed experience. Rediscover Church welcomed me with waffles. However, what I remember most fondly are the moments that upturned my expectations. Veterans will tell you Exe’s group centric ‘Team Skills Development’ is a ploy to drag us snowflakes from our desks into the socials. Well, maybe, but it turned out cracking the Dewey Decimal system was a great bonding exercise, and I made friends that day who would carry me through the year ahead.
My biggest problem? I was greener than a spinach soufflé. I drank beyond my limits. Wasted an indecent amount of time worrying about whether anyone would like me. Even emailed Exeposé a portfolio because I was convinced I needed to prove my worth. But I was always welcome. It’s where I was always supposed to be. You’re welcome too.
On the first night of Freshers’ Week 2016, I went to the Lemmy – I didn’t know any better. As a Londoner, I assumed there would be some travel involved, but shockingly a coat wasn’t needed for the arduous 30-second trek from my Lafrowda home. Not wanting to lose my new fresher-flatmate-friends in the throng, I was in the unfortunate position of carrying a large winter coat onto that sticky dance floor, folded over my arm like some delusional butler. It was in this warm drunken haze my brand-new key went walkabouts, and to this day I am still waiting for a reply from the lost property team.
Once Estate Patrol had let me in, painfully early in the night, I phoned a friend to rant: not only was the key gone, but so were all chances I had with that perfect person, vastly out of my league, who I can only assume was serving community service by continuing our conversation. My lifelong friend put me on speaker phone to the lovely members of his own new flat, and silently they laughed and laughed at my pain before their pre-drinks were even over.
I joined societies I’m now in charge of, made a whole handful of friends (many of whom I still avoid to this day), and most importantly I discovered The Imperial
Days later I lost more than my key, as in this great city of ours, I lost myself. Thursday night, I wound up so far from home, battery dead, helping a drunk stranger stand upright while he unceremoniously p****d against the Cathedral. To this day, I’m not sure if I’m complicit in a felony.
But Freshers’ Week was a strange and beautiful time – I joined societies I’m now in charge of, made a whole handful of friends (many of whom I still avoid to this day), and most importantly I discovered The Imperial – again, as a Londoner, it is a glorious haven to find £2 pints.
Ah, Freshers’ Week. I’m sure societies and clubs alike have hyped up events for weeks on end, all leading up to what will almost certainly be a madcap blur. And there’s a simple reason for that: booze.
Now, if you don’t drink, that doesn’t mean Freshers can’t be the time of your life. But this is my chance to thoroughly embarrass myself, and a large percentage of that is related to that fickle mistress, alcohol. So, let’s get right to it.
Remember those stories of you making a fool of yourself that go down well at parties? Well, living through those moments themselves isn’t always the most fun.
The best parts? Alcohol is a wonderful social lubricant. For someone who, like myself, deals with an anxiety disorder, this will be an exceedingly useful tool in making friends. During my first night out of Freshers’ (XTV takes Cheesy Tuesday, an absolute Freshers’ must), I met two girls who are, two years later, still my closest friends here. Plus, the absolute fool you make of yourself will provide great anecdotes for later social gatherings.
And the worst. Remember those stories of you making a fool of yourself that go down well at parties? Well, living through those moments themselves isn’t always the most fun.
Dancing on tables that almost break under your weight, taking home flatmates, and having drunk existential crises make for good memories, certainly, but only after you’ve lived down the teasing for an entire term.
This is both a warning and a reassurance. To all the freshers reading this, be careful, and make smart choices. You’re definitely going to do something horribly embarrassing, but then again, so is everyone else. Oh, and join XMedia. I hear they’re pretty great.