Two weeks before I moved to Glasgow, my parents went on holiday without me for the first time. I took this as a challenge – a test run before the real thing. I learned how to use the washing machine and even attempted to iron some things, but nothing prepared me for the experience known as fresher’s week.
Being 17 when I moved, I had a different experience of fresher’s than most people. Although the pre-arranged club nights do look appealing in a get-so-drunk-I-can’t-walk-home way, there’s something to be said for halls parties when you’re too young to go out. Trust me – they’re just as crowded, messy and full of regrets as any over-18s fresher’s event!
One year since I moved to the big city, and feeling like a different more mature person than I was back then, there’s some practical advice I wish someone had given me…
1. Its OK (and totally normal) to feel homesick
No matter what people have told you about how amazing EVERY SINGLE MINUTE is going to be, it’s OK to not enjoy it all of the time, it’s definitely normal to feel homesick and everyone else most likely feels the exact same way. My least favourite thing about being a hundred miles away from home is still not having my mum there when I’m sick, so cry if you need to and I give you full permission to wallow in self-pity while you’re hungover and throwing up after your first night out.
2. Pick a party buddy
Whether it’s your new flatmate you only met an hour ago or someone you’ve known for years, this is necessary. I moved into halls with one of my friends from home, and having someone to crawl home with you between 4 and 6am to make sure you’re safe is invaluable, especially if they’re up for some drunken spooning.
3. It isn’t all about the alcohol
Although it may seem like the whole experience has to involve alcohol, it doesn’t. Not only did being 17 during fresher’s mean I couldn’t attend the hyped-up club nights, it made me more aware of the events taking place that didn’t involve drinking. Every university holds events like movie marathons and meet ups for new starts, as well as come-and-try events for clubs, so go to them.
4. Socialising is important
Keep all those clubs in mind! One thing I regret about my first year is not joining any clubs until halfway through the year. When your course is small like mine, it can be difficult to network with other people and the best way to do this is by joining clubs and societies. If you’re like me and savour a long lie and sleep through the majority of the fresher’s fairs, just turn up the next week at practice and introduce yourself. It might seem nerve-wracking and scary at the time but my point about feeling homesick applies to this too – everybody probably feels the same.
5. Be sensible and safe
Fresher’s is all about testing your limits, embracing your newfound freedom and making friends, but with that said, there’s nothing more important than your safety. Always keep your drink in your eye line, never drink anything given to you by someone you don’t know and always travel in groups. Its true what they say about safety in numbers.
With all that said and done, there is one last piece of advice I would give to the naïve 17-year-old me:
You will make mistakes and do stupid things in the space of these seven days, but that’s OK. Just don’t let them define your attitude for the whole year. You’ll laugh and have one of the most memorable weeks of your student life, but you’ll probably cry a little too. Jump in at the deep end and say yes to all the right experiences. Meet as many people as you can and most importantly – have fun.