Which Way 99: student file: your student years can't fail to be great fun. Just look what's on offer!

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Indy Lifestyle Online
The first term at university or college can be one long party. Being a fresher gives you a chance to find out who you are and who you want to be away from the constraints of home. Not only are you away from mummy and daddy's watchful eyes, but you are hanging out with lots of people in exactly the same position. If this is your first stab at freedom then you're bound to go a bit wild!

Out on the town

It doesn't matter what your lecturers might say about the importance of buckling down and doing 20 hours of reading a week - very few do that in the first term! When I first got to university from my sixth form in the middle of a two horse Cornish village I was totally in awe of it all. I went from going out once a week, if I was lucky, to being out on the town nearly every night.

You will encounter several new phenomena at college. Firstly, there's the union bar, a strange place that is like a youth club with a licence, longer opening hours and better-looking staff! The union bar is the centre of any student's social life: you can pop in after a lecture or in the evening and there will usually be someone there who you know.

Union bars run entertainment for their students. This can range from karaoke, sports or club nights and is usually dirt-cheap. Sports night is generally the best laugh you can have at other people's expense, especially at my university, where every Wednesday the rugby team dress up as women then eventually end up streaking back to the halls.

The second new phenomenon you will encounter is the ball. May ball, summer ball, sports ball, winter ball - any excuse and the universities and colleges throw a ball. Basically, the ball gives students a chance to get their glad rags on and dance the night away with their friends. Some colleges hold excellent balls, for example Cast and Carl Cox played Canterbury University's summer ball this year.

Club, pubs and parties

Clubs and Societies at college can offer more alternative kinds of social life, and there is usually something for everyone. My friend has been in the diving club since the first year and has been diving all over the world with them. I joined the hot air ballooning society and didn't even get up in a balloon, but - hey! - you win some, you lose some. You'll see all the societies trying to recruit you at the freshers fair - it's also a chance to find out what your student union has to offer.

Fresher's week usually introduces you to most of the really happening things at your union. I went on the fresher's pub-crawl in the first year and met people I still hang about with. Fresher's week is the best time to make friends because everyone feels just as out of it all as you - you need to make friends quick so that homesickness doesn't set in and give you the blues!

Getting off campus, there are plenty of student friendly venues offering reductions on tickets and even drinks. There's a place near South Bank that offers as much food and drink as you can handle for a pounds 15 entry fee, whilst most clubs around the country offer discounts on ticket prices for students. Why do they do that? Because they make a packet out of the thousands of students who go clubbing every week.

University life is tops - well and truly the best years of your life. Being a proper student is just so much cooler than sixth form. You feel so free away from home. Even if you were the geekiest kid at your school, no one at college will realise - you get a clean slate to start on.

There is total freedom to do what you want, and for the first time for most students you are responsible for yourself. Live it up and party down, just don't forget to pick up an education on the way!

Lola is a third-year social policy student at South Bank University

But

Of course, all this freedom is fantastic fun, but you have to watch out that you don't fall off the party circuit and get kicked to the kerb. It is a standing joke that students spend all their time at the Union bar, but not-so-funny research has shown that both sexes at universities and colleges drink to dangerous levels. Beware of cheap beer nights or places that charge a flat fee on the door for all you can drink. These type of promotions do not mean that you have to pickle yourself! Drugs are bad for you. Bear that in mind when you get offered them, as you certainly will at university or college. Not only can they screw you up physically and mentally but if you are seen to be a drug user then you could get chucked off your course or out of your hall of residence. Drug use is one of the most common reasons that people are asked to leave hall. Be wise, just say "no". And if you refuse to be good then

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