‘In the end, we had an amazing week’: Kathryn on freshers expectations and realities
Moving into student halls, I was feeling a great mix of emotions: excited, nervous, and ready to grasp my new-found freedom away from home. Most of my friends had moved to university the year before and, having taken a third year of sixth form, I was ready to go.
My friends had all had greatly different experiences of their first year at university, and I was eager to see what mine would be like.
Here’s how I found my first week at uni.
Meeting new people is a great experience for some, but a daunting prospect for others. I’d already spoken to my flatmates in numerous group chats, but it was nice to put names to faces when we all arrived. Being friendly and approachable is a great way to bond with your new neighbours, and we chatted about our favourite music and where we were from, before dishing out compliments to those who’d gotten ready to go out clubbing on the first night.
University culture is seen as synonymous with alcohol and I knew my flatmates had planned to go to bar crawls, pub quizzes, and club nights. But like a growing number of students, I choose not to drink and at home I had never been out to a nightclub - it isn’t really my scene.
So the first two nights in student halls were difficult as my flatmates would only come together for nights out and pre-drinks. You can read all about how I found my feet as a teetotal student but, in short, I felt a little isolated as a non-drinker in those first few nights.
But as the week progressed, I spent more time with my flatmates and joined them when I felt comfortable to do so. In the end we had an amazing week, ordered pizza, went to a pub quiz, and cooked meals together. Cooking away from home in a busy kitchen for the first time isn’t the easiest, but it was a great way to laugh and spend time together.
A part of freshers’ week that’s discussed far less than the bar crawls and club nights is your university induction sessions. My university had scheduled seven individual sessions for my course, ranging from a library, careers and student union talk to a meeting with our personal tutors.
I’d applied to my course through clearing, having changed my mind about what I wanted to study after my A2 exams. Apart from reading course guides online, I had very little idea about the content of my degree and was nervous going in for the first time. Many people on my course had been on open days and course-specific applicant days, but there were also others in my situation who had been unable to visit, or applied too late to do so.
Starting university, it’s easy to imagine yourself as being the only one feeling a certain way about something. But it’s likely that you’re surrounded by people who feel the same way, whether that be homesick, apprehensive about meeting new people, or concerned about living in student halls as a teetotal student.
Everyone’s experience of university (and freshers’ week) is different and you don’t know how yours will be until you live it. But my advice is to take part and get involved. I met some wonderful people during my first week at university and it made me so excited about what the rest of the year would bring.