In a mini-series of open letters discussing the turbulent experience of being a fresher, Chloe Moloney tells her story of how things get better after freshers’ week.
Undoubtedly, your last night at home before fleeing the nest was a sleepless one. Your mind a ratrun of panic and your disquiet rolling to a shattering crescendo, the proceeding few weeks of your life were to be riddled with uncertainty. The University of Bristol was uncharted territory, and you were convinced that hidden behind each and every corner was either a twinkling angel or preternatural monster – a pot luck of fate.
As you stepped out into the milky air of Stoke Bishop, your eyes were like pinpricks and your mouth ran dry. Ahead of you lay an unexplored labyrinth of glimmering opportunity, yet doused with equal measures of discomposure.
So, I’m back here to impart some advice, yet not only to next year’s cluster of fledglings. If you can cast your mind back, fumble around and find your fresher’s self, give them a shake and make sure they listen up.
The first obstacle is the FLAT. You were busy unloading your food into the freezer when she came in: Flatmate 1. Your throat closed to a pinhole and you gingerly introduced yourself to her. Ok, that wasn’t as hard as you had anticipated, now was it? But with the fear of being ridiculed for your gaucherie, your stilted conversation reeked of apprehension. The tension hung in the air as thick as syrup, as you ungainly waded from topic to topic. However, after Flatmate 2 and 3 were added to the swelling list of your acquaintances, that rocky lump in your throat began to soften as you flitted from flatmate to flatmate, ceremoniously gassing away about this and that. Another taxing and daunting task could finally be crossed off the list.
‘I needed to calibrate my settings after being brackishly yanked this way and that’
With the FLAT conquered, it was time to swing around the bend and have a bash at MINGLING. Eager to dip your toe into unplumbed waters, Freshers’ Week was the perfect occasion to add a flurry of names to your contact list. However, while it is easy to be blissfully carried along by the ritualistic endeavours of Freshers’ Week, which mainly took their form in quaffing industrial quantities of booze, it is vital that you lean back and breathe. Having recently written a letter to the introverted students among us, being plunged deep into stifling and ebullient socialising certainly left me feeling a little heady. I needed to calibrate my settings after being brackishly yanked this way and that, and allow myself to bury my feet deep into Bristolian ground.
University is all fun and games until you get up one day realising you’re there for a degree, not just to get drunk and sleep all day.
— Dear Freshers (@Dear_Freshers) May 30, 2016
With FRESHERS’ WEEK heralded like a lurid and tawdry headline, and as you creep into mid-September, it is easy to feel wrought by constant social hammering. Yet rest assured in the knowledge that, although I am still relatively naïve regarding the frenetic world of higher education, I guarantee you that Freshers’ is not representative of university as a whole. And, if it turns out that Freshers’ Week is not your thing, don’t fret. It’s simply transient and ephemeral.
How do your experiences of first year so far compare with Chloe’s? Get in touch.