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

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Recruitment Genius: Graduate / Trainee Sales Executive

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate/Trainee Sales Executive is re...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Graphic Designer - Peterborough - £18,000

£22000 - £23000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Graphic Designer...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Cambridgeshire - £23,000

£22000 - £23000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Front-End Develo...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Application Support Analyst

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?