Sitting here today as a third year, I can barely believe that it has been two whole years since I was a Fresher myself. For me, going to university was something that I’d been excited for my whole life. Ever since I received that all-anticipated UCAS notification telling me that I had been accepted into my dream university, I was counting down the days until I could go. I still remember my first day unbelievably clearly. Walking through my flat doors for the first time, with a mixture of nerves and excitement filling the long corridor that stood in front of me. A new chapter of my life was beginning and there was no going back.
Everyone’s experience of being a Fresher is completely different. For me, I was lucky in the sense that I got on well with all of my flatmates; but really, this is all just potluck and therefore not always the case. Regardless of whether you get along with your flatmates or not, the first few weeks are such fertile times for socialising that you end up meeting so many different people. I ran into the trap of thinking that the people who I met on my very first few days would be the people who I would end up being closest to. The truth is, you might not end up being best friends with the people you met on your very first day. In fact, some of the people who I thought were going to be my best friends at university, I rarely speak to anymore. As much as we would want them to, friendships don’t just form overnight and things often take some time to fall into place. The key to finding your people is to get to know as many different people as you can. Friendships do find ways of working out for the best, even if it takes longer than you would hope.
You are often sold a dream when people talk about being a Fresher. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast. But in reality, being a Fresher was a whole mixture of emotions, and I was fairly naïve to the fact that amongst all the laughs and wild nights outs, there would be some very lonely and difficult times. For most people, including myself, going to university is the first time they have lived away from home. Trying to figure out how to look after yourself, balancing your social and academic life, whilst also finding your surroundings in a completely new city, can be quite the juggling act. Even though I considered myself a fairly independent person before going to university, there were so many times where I was straight on the phone to my parents asking how on Earth to work the washing machine. But that’s okay.
One thing I learnt very quickly is that you don’t have to know what you are doing all of the time, as everyone else is in the complete same boat as you. Looking back, I do wish that I’d realised that sooner rather than pretending that I had everything under control all of the time. It’s so easy to get so wrapped up in having fun and living the best uni life, that a good routine just goes completely out of the window and that is something that hit me hard. A few weeks of my first year flew by and any form of routine was pretty much non-existent. As much as this was fine for the first few weeks, everything started catching up with me about a month in, and I found myself to be rather overwhelmed. Getting into a good routine from day one is the perfect remedy to this, and I wish I had realised this sooner. Once I’d managed to establish a good routine and prioritised getting enough sleep, eating properly, and getting back into the gym, everything clicked and balancing my social and academic life began to get much easier to manage.
Another thing that I personally didn’t make the most of in my first year was joining societies. There are almost infinite options when it comes to societies, from surfing to sewing, which makes the first year of university the perfect time to push outside your comfort zone and try something new. Especially in the first week, there is a lot to take in, but taking the time to actively go to the Fresher’s fair is something that I should’ve made more of an effort with and if I could go back, I wish I had tried something new. The bottom line is that being a fresher is overwhelming, there is no denying that. But it really is an experience I wouldn’t change and if I could, I would relive it in a heartbeat.