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Now at the beginning of her second year, Lily Hammond looks back at being a fresher.

I remember being told in an absolutely AWFUL fresher’s presentation last year (you second years remember, the one that used an awkward combination of contemporary dance, horrific stand-up and puppetry) that first year is a rollercoaster, with constant ups and downs, peaks and troughs and even a corkscrew or two. Although this is a rather unoriginal analogy, it is actually very accurate. When I waved my parents away this time last year my overriding emotion was excitement, which in my case obviously resulted in me drinking too much in the Hiatt Baker bar that evening, leaving me with a very positive outlook on the coming year. However, it was the week following this that I would say was the most difficult I have had at university.

Now, while I wasn’t the biggest fan of Fresher’s Week, I absolutely loved being a fresher

I have to say, I think Fresher’s Week is overrated. I mean, I do understand the hype- there has to be an element of build-up surrounding the first week of university otherwise people wouldn’t go; but the first week of university is exhausting. At no other point in your life will you be shoved into a totally new living environment surrounded by complete strangers and forced to binge drink for six nights in a row. Now I don’t know about you, but I would say I was a reasonably seasoned drinker when I began university, but I was really not prepared for the stamina that is needed that first week.  I think what I struggled with most was the fact that you are having to socialise 100% of the time that you are not sleeping, and that really takes it out of a person. I remember going to a tea party organised by my subject and literally being unable to function because I was so tired. Luckily I’d tenuously made links with a girl earlier in the week that I clung to so she could do most of the talking because I was physically unable. But then again, fresher’s week does set you up well for the year ahead as, although you really don’t plan to, you will be probably going out that much throughout the whole of first year.

Now, while I wasn’t the biggest fan of Fresher’s Week, I absolutely loved being a fresher. The first year of university is brilliant. Obviously you have this new overwhelming sense of independence- you can get up, get back and bring back whenever and whoever you like with really very little consequence. The friendships you make are unlike any others. You really grow up with these people over the course of the year and I promise that by the end of your first summer you will want nothing more than a tragic night in Lola’s with the squad. You are also studying something that, fingers crossed, you really enjoy with other likeminded people. Meanwhile all this is happening in what can only be described as a truly amazing city- don’t worry you Stoke Bishop lot, you will venture past the Triangle eventually. You probably won’t go to many lectures and you probably won’t do particularly well in exams but that is really not what first year is about. My main piece of advice would be to put yourself out there, chat to anyone who will let you, and make those tenuous links with people you can cling to when you are too tired to talk, as they might just turn out to become one of your best friends.

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