I’ve had some low points in my life. One in particular is etched into my memory when, on the second day of Freshers’, I was forced to call the facilities man for my university halls because I’d ‘blocked the sink from washing up’. Really, I’d been vomiting all night in an attempt to numb the awkwardness of Freshers’ Week with countless Jägerbombs.
‘It’s going to be the best week of your life’, they said. ‘Enjoy every minute’, they said. The media, my friends, and even my mum, kept reiterating how much fun I was going to have over the week. One online article even described it as ‘one of the most exciting, memorable weeks of your life.’ I beg to differ, and here are four reasons why:
1) The Nightlife
Considering I was heading to university in Manchester, I thought the nightlife during Freshers’ might have been slightly better than at, say, the University of Plymouth. I was wrong.
The week consisted of various fancy dress nights. On Monday, we dressed up as geeks. Tuesday was a ‘full-moon party’; queue a sea of neon hot pants purchased in Primark that morning. The big finale? A zombie theme with Zane Lowe DJing, I must have died and gone to heaven.
2) The Expense
£45 seemed steep for a Freshers’ pack, but it was what everyone else was doing, right? So, I gritted my teeth and dug into my big, shiny student loan. In exchange for my cold, hard cash, I received a Facebook-themed T-shirt – with space to write my name, degree subject, and relationship status. This was a chance to witness the cutting-edge creativity of my peers, some of whom studied ‘Your Mum’, while others put a valiant line through the relationship status and wrote ‘Will Do Anyone’.
Along with this, my fun-filled pack included wristbands for entry to all the nights I mentioned earlier – and some stickers. I then proceeded to spend double that on drinks in an effort to have a good time.
3) Making Friends
Everyone was so desperate to make friends you could almost smell it and I was in no way exempt. All the while I’d be talking to someone and being super friendly, I knew we were both simultaneously assessing if we wanted to be each other’s friend.
I found myself latching onto people I had nothing in common with, solely so I didn’t have to eat dinner by myself.
But this had repercussions: I spent the next three years dealing with ghosts of Freshers’ past, and it didn’t get any easier when I met someone I did like. The whole time we’d be chatting, I’d be trying to silence the niggling thought they might not like me.
I remember being in my new ‘friend’s’ room and picking up her laptop when she was in the loo. When I opened it, I found my Facebook profile on the screen. We actually ended up becoming best friends but, at the time, I felt like I was being judged harsher than contestants on The X Factor.
Wasn’t I meant to be having sex with lots of dashing young men who filled every nook and cranny of this sexual utopia? I didn’t fancy anyone I’d met, and I hadn’t slept with anyone. I felt like a pariah.
Overall, despite the abounding negativity running through this article, in actuality, I had an incredible time at university.
My advice for anyone who is starting this month? Don’t put pressure on yourself to tick any of the generic boxes as soon as you arrive. Do your own thing, because it takes time to get settled and feel comfortable with people. And please don’t panic if your life doesn’t look like the opening sequence of Laguna Beach by the end of your first week.
Susie is about to start studying for an MA in newspaper journalism at City University London. She is also a full-time sashimi enthusiast
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