Opinion | The pressure of Freshers’

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Alice Durrant, First Year, Italian and Philosphy

Having survived Freshers’ and the first week of lectures, I feel qualified to talk about the pressures of this hectic start to uni life.

Whilst some are lucky, and hit the ‘Freshers’ jackpot’, immediately gelling with their flatmates and loving their new-found sense of independence, others find the transition more difficult. Feelings of homesickness and panic start to set in when they haven’t managed to find their forever friends within the first few days of arriving.

From an outside perspective, it seems unrealistic to find ‘your people’ in such a short space of time. However, Freshers’ week exists in a kind of vacuum where this expectation is common and failing to meet it can cause new students to feel isolated and excluded.

This isn’t to say that this initiation into university life doesn’t have its positives. Freshers’ week encourages you to push yourself out of your comfort zone, meet new people and confront new challenges - such as independent living and limitless(ish) freedom.

You may not like every new thing you try during this week. Long nights out clubbing or a stressful society induction day may not be your cup of tea. However, this only enhances your future uni life as you learn more about yourself and how to maximise your happiness as the year goes on.

social media only exacerbates the pressure of having a week comparable to a teen movie

Although the university does a stellar job of providing a range of activities for both the night and day for students who aren’t too keen on nightlife, you may find yourself with a lot of spare time during Freshers’ week. Flatmates may have different interests and attending events alone can be a daunting task.

It may seem like you’re the only one with hours to fill whilst everyone else has a packed schedule of social outings and places to be, but this free time is completely normal and gives you the opportunity to recharge before returning to the chaos.

Social media only exacerbates the pressure of having a week comparable to a teen movie as TikTok ‘for you pages’ and Instagram feeds are filled with countless recollections of the night before. All of which, of course, are carefully edited to make sure their peers know they are having the best week of their lives.

In reality, they may be feeling just as lonely as anyone else. Being constantly exposed to these highlight reels naturally brings up huge feelings of FOMO as you question why your Freshers’ week doesn’t look like what you see on Tiktok.

Freshers' week doesn't have to set the precedent for what's to come

But it is important to remember that, for many, Freshers’ week isn’t the peak of their uni careers. Instead, it is only the starting point with the best memories and experiences still yet to come.

This may seem like a warning to all future freshers to expect a gruelling week of boredom and loneliness, but this is not the case. Instead, I want to reassure anyone who didn’t have the week that they expected that - that’s okay. Don’t feel disheartened about the rest of your time at Bristol as Freshers’ week doesn’t have to set the precedent for what’s to come.

It may be tempting to resort to panic if the give-it-a-go session you went to wasn’t your thing or you don’t have a large, close group of friends by the end of the week. But it’s important to have some perspective and remember that Freshers’ is only seven days out of a three-year journey, giving you plenty of time to find the things you enjoy.

Featured image: Alexander Popov


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