One of the best ways to describe freshers' week is as the biggest party of your life to date! For seven days you'll be immersed in a frenzy of activity designed to make the transition from living at home to living away as smooth as possible. You'll meet new people, make new friends and generally have a fantastic time. It's the only week when you can devote nearly the entire time to pure fun without the demands of lectures, seminars, tutorials and essays.
For many students, university is the first time they have lived away from home and their parents. While on one hand this sounds fantastic, it can also be a little daunting to have such freedom yet so little direction. Never fear: your student union understands and will have organised a programme of events for the week to help you find your feet. Don't forget there will be hundreds of other freshers wandering about in a daze too - you certainly won't be on your own!
The formal stuff
Registration and induction
To officially join your university you'll need to go through registration, which can be a real test of stamina! Your university will advise you on the exact procedure and what you need, but it normally involves queuing to get your student ID card (don't forget your dodgy passport photos!) and then queuing to have your documents checked. If you are eligible for a student loan, confirmation of your registration will be sent to the Student Loan Company to trigger your first payment into your bank account (make sure you set one up in time!).
You might also have an official welcome to the university, often called an induction ceremony. This will be a more formal affair than anything offered by the student union, but it will go some way to making you feel like a fully fledged student.
Talks and tours
Your university and student union will have worked together to provide a comprehensive programme of events. You'll normally be able to go on tours of the university and its faculties, the town in which you're studying, the IT facilities and the library. You'll also be given talks on how groups like the student union, careers service and welfare services (including the chaplaincy), can help should you ever need assistance, and be advised to register with a local doctor.
The fun stuff
Meet and greet
Chances are you will previously have visited your university but you won't have been able to take everything in, so take advantage of the tours organised by the student union. A relaxed week of getting to know your way around means you won't be tearing your hair out at 9am come Monday morning, trying to find out where your first lecture is!
The student union will also have planned a variety of events to ensure that you will have ample opportunities to get out and meet new people: Edinburgh alone claims to have laid on 500 activities for its students! These could include pub crawls, coffee crawls, sports events, themed party evenings and organised walks in the city or surrounding countryside.
Whatever you do, you'll have a chance to relax and check out who you'll be spending the next few years of your life with. And don't forget one of the highlights of the week: freshers' fair, where you'll be able to join societies that you've never even heard of before! Turn the page to find out more...
DOS AND DON'TS
Have fun! That is the whole idea of freshers' week after all, so relax and make the most of everything on offer.
Phone home. Put your parents out of their misery and let them know you're happy and not going hungry.
Be careful. If you're planning on being out late at night, make sure you have someone to walk home with, or use the university transport provided.
Pine away in your room. Homesickness is common amongst freshers, so it's much better to talk to someone if you're feeling down in the dumps.
Blow your budget in a week. It's very tempting to spend, spend, spend during these first seven days but remember, your student loan has to last quite a bit longer than that!
Drink too much. Turn to the article on page 6 about looking after your health to find out why...
The National Union of Students' site is packed with useful information
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