Freebies and fun: the art of Freshers week

Homesickness is out - there's no time. By Anna Tobin
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You've spent the past few weeks rushing around trying to find the cheapest kettle and the warmest duvet. You've got the Adidas T-shirt and the latest Portishead album. Youthink you're finally prepared for student life. Then, suddenly, reality dawns. You're going to university, tomorrow. Arghhhhh...

I was terrified. On the motorway, others suffering the same plight threw understanding looks from car windows partially blocked by stereos and saucepans.

We finally pulled up outside the halls of residence in Leeds. We passed the door, with my room number on it, on its side in the corridor. It was a new building and the finishing touches were still being added.

An hour later my Dad had introduced the door to its hinges and my Mum had scanned the block for potential sons-in-law. Then they abandoned me.

I made for the kitchen, just in time for the all-important cupboard allocation. Try and grab one of the higher ones - they are more mouse resistant.

Most people have the impression that everyone else will already know a million people, but most of the first-years felt as alien as I did. Everybody wants to make friends and because you find yourself living in each others' pockets, you get to know each other very quickly.

Universities know that students find it hard to settle in, and this is what Freshers' weeks are about. Once the admin stuff is over, it's time to explore. There is the society fair, where you can join groups as diverse as parachuting and the Coc' Soc', the Cocktail Society. Membership can be expensive, so choose wisely. Bungee jumping may not be as appealing when you are standing on a bridge with a rope round your middle as it was before you parted with your pennies.

Most students live on a tight budget and there are lots of freebies given out in Freshers' week. From magazines to tampons, chocolate bars to socks: you name it, they're giving it away. Go around a few times to stock up on the essentials.

There will be loads of things going on on campus. In the first week you will probably get the chance to be hypnotised, amused by the comedy society and entertained by the theatre group. Be warned, Rolf Harris and his band often tour the unions.

The first week is all about having fun, meeting people and sorting out where you can get the cheapest everything, from bread to beer. You won't have time to feel homesick.

By Sunday night you'll be exhausted. Nobody will have had more than six hours' sleep in as many days. The last party finishes at four in the morning and the first lectures are only five hours away.