I want to give you a warm welcome to the University of Leeds whether you’re here on campus for the first time or are still hanging around doing that PhD and limping over the finish line. Thinking all the way back to Freshers’ Week three years ago, it’s all a bit of a blur and that’s not just down to the unhealthy amounts of alcohol I drank over my first two weeks in Leeds.
The experience of being in a new city, surrounded by people who you only met a few minutes previously, and having your first go at “adulting” is a bit surreal.
If there’s any advice an old man like me can give (I’m only 21 but alas no longer a Fresher), it is this. Just talk to anyone and everyone. Within about 10 minutes of me sitting down in the common room of my halls, I realised barely everyone I thought knew each other had hardly gotten past the most basic small talk – “Hey, how are you doing”, “What course do you study?”, “Where are you from?”.
It may seem weird to just start speaking to the stranger next to you on the bus, in the smoking area, in the Union, or in your lecture. But if there’s any time better to start chatting to strangers, it’s Freshers. You may be thinking “but what do I say”. However, I can almost guarantee that the person sitting next to you is thinking the exact same thing.
One of my friends first got to know me when I made an entire row of people stand up five minutes before the end of a lecture to go to the loo (I was bursting in my defence). I promise you can’t do much worse than that for an introduction. Another was crouched behind a car trying to help her light her poorly-rolled cigarette. Another because we walked in the same direction for a lecture.
I’ve never been a naturally outgoing person, but I’ve managed to turn myself into that annoying person who always says hi to you in seminars.
You might not be outgoing yourself and meeting loads of new people is always going to be easier for the extrovert. However, give it your best shot because at the end of the day, if it all goes horribly wrong and you say something weird or awkward, there are 38,000 students at the University of Leeds alone so chances are you’ll never see them again.
My second bit of advice is that if you are planning to consume a few alcoholic beverages on a night out, make sure to line your stomach – this could be a takeaway from Crispys, some Linda McCartney sausages or a mountain of pasta, your choice. Just make sure you eat before so you don’t peak too early – I learned this lesson too well on my first trip to PRYZM and on many nights out in first year. You might think you’re already an experienced sesh-head and this is basic knowledge but it’s always helpful to have a reminder.
My third and final bit of advice is to join at least one society this year. You might have joined one last year and didn’t quite jive. Sometimes this happens. However, with over 300 clubs and societies at LUU, you’re hardly short of choice and you might as well give it another shot. If Medieval re-enactment, being High on Life, or Stitch ‘n’ Bitch seem like your thing, go for it!
I started writing for The Gryphon only in second year and now I wish I had started sooner. Last year, I gave gymnastics a go – despite having back problems, never been flexible, agile or graceful in any way. Turned out I quite liked it and spent nearly every Wednesday and Saturday bouncing around Leeds Gymnastics Club. It also turned out to be a great way to put off doing my dissertation. So now I can add a cartwheel and a handstand to the list of skills on my CV – only impressive when you consider I couldn’t even do a roly-poly in the beginning.
If you’re still reading at this point, you’re probably wondering who I am? I’m the editor of this student newspaper, one of the longest-running in the country. We’ve had a few successful years recently and personally I’d like to keep that trend going, having taken over from the very capable hands of my predecessor, Robbie Cairns. I was elected into this questionable position of responsibility by you lot in March last year alongside the student Exec. I hope we have another successful year ahead.
There will be a few changes to the office this year – Ed Sheeran and Coldplay are officially banned as my far more superior music tastes compared to my predecessor take over the office computer. Lana Del Rey, Beyoncé, Kim Petras and Lizzo will reign supreme for the next nine months.
On a more serious note, as the student newspaper, we are here to offer you a voice and hold the University, the Union and the Council to account where possible. We’re an independent publication so that gives us the amazing freedom to pursue the stories that matter on campus. If you feel something is not quite right, we can look into it further.
If you’re interested in photography, writing, journalism, design or illustrating, please feel free to swing by the office or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, even if you are an Ed Sheeran or Coldplay fan. There’s no requirement for joining and we’re a great place to get involved with student journalism. Our GIAG is on Saturday 28th November at 4pm. Hope you enjoyed reading this and see you there!
Over and out,
Photo Credit: Robbie Cairns, Ex-Gryphon Editor and Coldplay fan