By India Noon, Opinion Co-Deputy Editor
As a second year returning to university, Freshers' Week has given me some time to really reflect on my own Welcome Week from last year and what I learnt through all of it. In this article I hope to share a little of my own experiences and perhaps give an insight into what freshers can expect from a truly unique first week at university. Everyone will tell you different stories about freshers. Some a bit wild and crazy, some a bit lonely and homesick and some just down right strange. But it’s important for me to start this article by saying: everyone will tell you different stories, none more or less valid or successful than each other, just different.
My freshers started pretty much like everyone else’s. Super nervous, scared and questioning every decision I had ever made up to this point. It was a classic fear of the unknown. Here I was leaving my entire life behind to try and start a new one in a place I'd liked the look of on an open day. The reality is everything you will do in the first couple of months of university, let alone freshers, is scary, sometimes even quite difficult. But nothing easy is really worth having. In my opinion, freshers is what you make of it. If you put yourself out there, push yourself out of your comfort zone and give it your best shot, I can guarantee you get some sort of experience!
I can still remember my very first night of freshers. It included me asking my poor flat mates every question I could think of to get to know them and an awkward game of cards that we all look back on now and laugh at fondly. Nothing was as typical as me burning my very first cooking attempt within hours of me getting into the kitchen- burnt garlic bread anyone? And the evening rounded up with our first experience of a Bristol favourite: SWX on one of its very packed welcome events. In all it wasn't a disaster and it was safe to say I felt a little more confident that I could actually do this now that I had survived my first night. Pretty soon my freshers week turned into what was expected when adolescents get given an incredible new city to run around in. Pre's every night followed by a club became a regular chaos for the week. But amid this chaos memories were made, and friendships started to solidify. I think I started to find my people.
But here’s the thing, you don’t have to be a big drinker to make these kind of connections in freshers week. For me the very act of spending time together, sharing things about yourselves and simply laughing with each other could bring me closer to anybody I possibly met. My favourite story is the reason why I give the same advice to every single fresher I meet. By the end of freshers- around Friday-my new friends and I planned to get lunch at Nando's and walk to Clifton Suspension Bridge together. Coincidentally it was someone’s birthday that day so we used the excuse to all sign a card and present some Prosecco when we reached the bridge. We spent the entire day together sitting and having lunch and then walking to the bridge to catch the sunset. Not a single drop of alcohol was consumed that day and yet I felt as confident and happy with these people as I did around them on a night out. That day highlighted the importance of having wholesome experiences with my friends, that didn’t include going out. Now to every fresher I meet I encourage them more than anything to organise sober activities and get to know each other on a real day basis. Not only will you make even more great memories but you'll know and understand each other so much better.
However, not every freshers week is a success story and not every day in my own freshers week was a dream. Epigram found that 60% of students said that freshers week did not live up to their expectations. Despite my freshers being everything I had hoped it would be I was still super nervous, often feeling homesick and regularly overwhelmed. The truth is, those feelings are inevitable and entirely human. If we do not experience the lows of moving away from everything, we would not be able to appreciate the highs. I would highly encourage you to never compare your freshers weeks with the likes of your friends or what you see online. Like I said at the beginning of this article everyone will tell you different stories about freshers week and everyone’s experiences good or bad are valid and important.
All in all, freshers week is not the best week of your life. Your university years do not rely on freshers and you are entitled to feel every good and bad feeling about your own experience. However, what I can say is that freshers can still be an amazing time where you can put yourself out there and develop as a person. Take the good and the bad and run with it. If you push yourself and try hard, I promise you can expect an experience like no other.
Featured image: Unsplash/Long Truong
How was your welcome week? What would you advise the freshers of next year? Get in touch @epigrampaper_