#UniAdvice: 10 Tips to Help You Get the Most Out of Fresher's Week

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Is it September already? 
Ever since starting university, I've realised that time just seems to be going quicker and quicker. And I don't know if that is related to the constant action that university always seems to be, or just a feature of impending adulthood. Either way, it has taught me to appreciate every single second of the university experience because, for the majority, it is only three years of a person's life and those years can go by so fast when you're surrounded by the right people.
So here are my tips on the first part of the university experience: Freshers Week.
A time for first times, throwing yourself into the unknown and forging your first step of the next part of your life.

1. Your Health is More Important Than Having a Good Time
I know, I know. You are probably 18, officially now an adult and are well aware of this. You have heard it from every single one of your family members in the lead-up to your departure, but you never truly understand the true impacts of such a decision until you end up spending six hours in Accident and Emergency. And, believe me, being the sober friend in that situation is rather dragging and seemingly endless, but it is even worse to sober up and begin your hangover in a rowdy, echoing room. Sure if you are one of those people who drink just to get drunk, that's fine. You're only young once so fuck it, if we're going to follow those clichés. You should just be aware of what passes the limit of just casual drinking, as opposed to ending up in hospital with liver poisoning. I have a friend that can drink seven jagerbombs and an entire bottle of vodka, and still be semi-coherent, but everyone's limits are not the same, hell, you could have two ciders then boom all of your memories from that night have disappeared (this may sound ridiculous, but my flatmate is like this and herding her all night like a sheep so that she doesn't wander off, is not a fun job).

2. Prepare for Fresher's Flu
Yeah, unlike my expectations of university, Fresher's Flu is not just a myth, it's instead something that, most of the time, you cannot escape from. Sure, you will be fine if you drink for the entirety of the year, but normally as soon as you stop after two weeks of constant heavy drinking - which unfortunately coincides with the start of lectures... believe me, going to those first few are close to painful - it will hit you like a freight train. So, load up on those cold and flu tablets, and prepare to be the whiny snotty mess that annoys your flat mates to seemingly no end. But, it is fine, because everyone you know's immune systems will be fucked as well, and in the end, they will have had all endured it.

3. Join Societies
You go to university thinking you're an individual and then you distractedly look around your lecture hall halfway through February and realise that you and all of the other people in the room have strange similarities that you cannot put your finger on. You're not a stereotype, or a carbon copy, you just seem to be all linked together in a weird set of parallels. My housemate and I are both journalism students and most of the time we have opposite opinions on things but there's just... I don't even know, just something that makes us seem like we're cut from the same cloth. Societies join different types of people together, with all of you linked under one common interest - baking, rugby, feminism, model united nations, political parties, teaching sex education to high school kids... The possibilities of societies are truly endless; it will help you to get to know someone who is completely different from you in every way apart from that.

4. Budget, Budget, Budget
I know. Believe me, for me, this is the hardest one of all. I may have only hundred pounds in my bank account for the next week, but if it gets to Friday, 99% of it is most definitely going on a new dress for a night out, a bottle of vodka and entry into a club. You get to university and you realise how expensive grocery shopping is, my parents go three times a week and I truly do not understand how they do it, but you always need to make sure that you have money left over to fill your cupboards, especially close to the end of the semester when your student loan is seriously running low. Believe me: a new eyeshadow palette is great, but a non-rumbling stomach is far better.

5. Create a Meal Plan
I am notoriously non-comittal, I become bored very easily: no matter if it is related to cereal or the person I'm interested in. Like not even kidding, I have six boxes of half-eaten cereal in my cupboards that I will probably never visit once again. So, making a meal plan that I have to tie myself every week is difficult to me, but you could switch it up if that makes it any easier - just knowing what you're going to eat and therefore need to buy, as well as that you are actually going to use up the many now seemingly-useless things in your cupboard. It saves you money, as well as preventing a hell of a lot of food wastage.

6. Having Your Parents Not There to Wake You Up Every Morning is NOT a Good Thing
It's up to you to wake yourself up, you who has to give yourself the motivation that will actually push you to get out of bed and start your day. I am nocturnal, like through-out my flatmates there was joke about how I was a vampire and that they were nearly certain that they hadn't ever seen me in the sunlight. There was a point last year where I got so bad, that my "time-zone" sleep schedule was that I was up all night before going to sleep at 5AM, before waking mid-afternoon and when you get into such a funk, there's really no way of a quick fix. Alarms are important, but you have to make sure that you actually listen to them, because they're not going to be as persistent as your parents.

7. Don't Have Sex with Any of Your Flatmates
If your university is in a city as big as mine, you have thousands... maybe even tens or hundreds of thousands of people to sleep with; even then, you have another couple of hundred others in your halls if you want someone with a bit of familiarity. No matter how beautiful they are, you do not have to sleep with the four/five/six people that you just so happen to live with. Sure, if you are one of those small amount of people that can have a casual sexual relationship without gaining feelings for the other person like one of those rom-com clichés, do it, or them, whatever. But otherwise, just flash-forward six months later for just a second: imagine sharing the same kitchen, hallway, shower room (which is a hell of a small, confined space). It's awkward. Ridiculously so. You can't escape those people, no matter how hard you try. Sure, you may stay together for the entire year and live happily-ever after, at least for now, but the chance of that is extremely low. Last year, my friend actually had to transfer universities because she started sleeping with her flatmate, and then he started sleeping with someone else. He lived in the room next door and the walls are paper-thin... Not good. At all.

8. Be Open-Minded
The so-Americanised quasi-cliques of high school have evaporated by university, you will talk to people who you have insisted for the past six years that you will never talk to or could not ever possibly get along with - hell, you might be right... I have been about some people, but giving a chance to different types of people will open you up to new opportunities and experiences that you never dreamed of before. Every person brings something new to your life, no matter good or bad; they teach you things, as well as allowing you to learn something new about yourself.

9. It Doesn't Matter if it Falls on a Wednesday, Go Out on Student Night
There is a club in the city of my university in which I can get a taxi there/back, gain entry into it and get absolutely hammered with only spending ten pounds. It's like the best thing ever, believe me, because unless you're loaded, cheap drinks are FABULOUS drinks. I can spend up to fifty pounds on a Saturday as the drinks are triple the price, and that is a fucking lot of your student budget, if you think about doing it every week. You may be can't-see-straight-head-pounding-hungover in your lecture the next day, but going through it is a better alternative for you if you're attempting to keep to a budget.

10. Say 'Yes' to Every Opportunity That Comes Your Way
Midnight movie premiere? Check. Adults-only night at the local science museum? Check. Giving blood at the red cross? Check. Trip to Rome? Check. My university's students union has a sort of give-it-a-go programme, offering one-off opportunities for students to engage in, it's not like societies because you don't have to dedicate yourselves to a single interest for the entirety of the year, but instead a rather exciting chance to do a range of activities. Even if your university doesn't come equipped with a similar programme, you can still choose to arrange things between you and your friends: go to the local seasides, or the national parks. I receive emails every few days detailing anything from job volunteer opportunities to film nights... Whatever your interests, you do not want to end university with a list of things that you should've done.

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