Freshers' Week: The perfect start to university life

Freshers' Week can really help to ease you into living away from home – if you do it properly

Your first term at university will be a welter of new faces and experiences in an unfamiliar environment – an exciting and daunting prospect in equal measure. Freshers' Week, also known as Welcome Week, is the bridge to this new phase of life, designed to help make the transition into university as enjoyable and rewarding as possible.

During the week, you are likely to be confronted with a dizzying choice of ice-breaking activities, from paintballing and pub crawls to foam parties and comedy nights. At times, it can seem more like a Freshers' Frenzy.

Behind the wall-to-wall fun there's a serious purpose – namely to help you settle in, meet fellow students, find your bearings, enrol on your course and join clubs and societies that reflect your interests. If sports and exercise is your thing, for example, you can probably try out everything from archery to Zumba.

"It's all about creating as many opportunities as possible to help new students to meet and build new friendships," explains Ed Foster, study support co-ordinator at Nottingham Trent University. During next term's Welcome Week, Nottingham Trent will be offering around 400 events and activities. Despite Nottingham's reputation for great student nightlife, Foster acknowledges that not everyone will want to go clubbing and they ensure that more restrained alternatives are on offer, including theatre visits and a ghost walk.

Whatever your thing, it's best to do some advance research by checking out the student union website for your university and shortlisting those activities that really appeal to you. You can also look out for your Freshers' Week Facebook group and follow plans on Twitter.

If there's one word that sums up Freshers' Week it's pressure – to meet everyone and do everything. These full-on days and nights will be a major test of stamina for even the most hardened of social beings.

Getting the most out of those first seven days and nights presents a challenge in itself, so here are some useful pointers to get you through.

You can't be everyone's new best friend

Having waved off tearful parents, the first challenge is meeting fellow students with whom you will be sharing a corridor or digs. Make an effort to introduce yourself, even if you feel like crawling under your duvet. Keep your door open. You're not the only one who may be feeling isolated or lonely. But keep in mind that you can't be everyone's new best friend. Pick the people with whom you instinctively feel you will have a good rapport.

Pace yourself

"Remember that it will be only the first week of many and the worst way to start university is by burning yourself out. So, get involved, but look after yourself, too," advises Raechel Mattey, vice-president of the National Union of Students.

For many freshers in their first week, alcohol inevitably plays a leading role. It can calm nerves and ease social encounters, but watch your intake. You don't want to be the one who is always being scooped up from the pavement by fellow students.

There's no shame in not being a 24-hour party animal. If you need to catch up with sleep, make your excuses. And don't worry if you don't drink at all. Despite the focus on alcoholic consumption, you'll find there are plenty of others who can enjoy themselves on virgin cocktails.

Empty wallet syndrome

There is bound to be someone who blows a whole term's money in the first week. Make sure it's not you. Work out what you can afford to spend for each night out and leave your credit card safely in your room. Don't try and buy friends. A round of drinks can use up a great chunk of your budget.

Talking of budgets, don't forget to draw one up. If you have received your loan, you may feel super-rich, but avoid the temptation to blow it.

The serious stuff

It may seem like the social scene is all-consuming but you will have important tasks to do, such as formally enrolling on your course of study. There will also be valuable introductory talks and library familiarisation sessions to attend in the daytime.

Make good use of the week to get your bearings. You don't want to get lost looking for your first lecture. Use the time to check out where the student health services are based, as week one is a good opportunity to register.

Keeping healthy and safe

The notorious "Freshers' flu" is ready to pounce on the sleep-deprived and poorly nourished. To keep it at bay, make sure you eat healthily at least once a day, including lots of fruit.

Avoid peer pressure to do crazy things. Tales of Freshers' Week pranks that got out of hand abound. Keep your wits about you after a few drinks. Your new mates may also be in a similar condition, so look out for each other.

Help is on hand

There is bound to be a good support network of student buddies or mentors to help you move into accommodation and offer practical advice. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Not every new student fits the mould of being 18 and from elsewhere in the UK. When planning Freshers' Week, universities and student unions are keen to cater for students from the local area, mature students and those from overseas. If you fit into any of these categories, look out for special social events for you. If you have special needs, it's important to make sure these are known before you arrive.

Finally, take in all these dos and don'ts but, above all, enjoy Freshers' Week for what it is – a great opportunity to find your feet and make new friends without the pressure of essay deadlines. The trick is not to feel you have to enjoy everything or attempt to do it all. With some sensible planning and self-restraint, it can turn out to be an experience you'll treasure forever.

nus.org.uk freshers.co.uk thestudentroom.com

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Guru Careers: Trainee Software Developer / Graduate Developer / Junior Software Engineer

£13 - 16k + Training & Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We have a unique oppo...

MBDA UK Ltd: Electronic Test Systems - Graduate 2015

Competitive Salary & Benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: Role Purpose: Exciting opportunit...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Executive / Marketing Assistant

£18 - 23k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Executive / Assistant is n...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Trainee

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider to the fa...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'