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Opinion | An open letter to Freshers

As the Summer draws to a close and September arrives, it is time to start thinking about the imminent start of the university year. Here are some really basic tips that might just help you on your way.

By Daniel Harris, Fourth Year, Spanish and Portuguese

As the Summer draws to a close and September arrives, it is  time to start thinking about the imminent start of the university year. Here are some really basic tips that might just help you on your way.

Dear Freshers,

For final years like myself, we very much know what to expect by now. For Freshers, however, starting over in a new environment is probably a nauseating mix of excitement and fear. It will, as things do, almost definitely end up okay in the end, and part of the experience is making your own mistakes. That said, here are some really basic tips that might just help you on your way. I know that they really helped me:

  1. Go Beyond the Triangle Clubs.

Now, everybody needs to go to Lizard Lounge at least once. Lola Lo’s and Gravity (it is still called Bunker, everyone) have their good qualities. But remember there are so many brilliant clubs outside of the triangle; something I failed to discover until the end of my second term. Even if Drum and Bass is not your thing, Lakota, Blue Mountain, Motion, Cozies, Black Swan, Full Moon and Attic Bar, Trinity Centre (just to name a few) offer something you can’t quite find on the triangle.

Students clubbing at Lizard Lounge | Courtesy of Lizard Lounge

2. Try to Say Yes.

Simply put, go out and have a good time. Even if you’re a bit tired or hungover, make the most of every time somebody knocks on your door and asks if you want to go for a walk,  explore the city or go out to meet some new people. You may actually find that Fresher’s Week doesn’t have to be the hungry money pit that people typically assume that it is. But, even if you can be a bit stingy like myself, let loose just a little; it can be expensive, but it is money well spent.

3. Sign up to societies.

It seems like a pretty obvious one, but it is amazing how many people do not take advantage of the multitude of societies on offer in Bristol. Whether you’re a serious sportsman or musician, or you just want to talk to other people about cheese and wine, societies are a great way to get to know people in second or third year. Make sure not all of your friends are freshers! All of these societies will be represented at the Freshers’ Fair, so make sure you head on down to find out about these societies, learn more about Bristol and nab some freebies. A lot of people tend to find that one gem of a society, filled with like minded people who you almost seem destined to have meaningful friendships with. Which leads me on to my next point:

It's okay not to be okay

4. Freshers’ friends don’t last.

It would be lovely if those three people you went to your course registration became your best friends. And for some people, perhaps this is true. However, you are going to meet a lot of people in your first week of university, so definitely do not expect to be close friends with the first big group of people you meet. This is all part of the university experience, and just remember to take it with a pinch of salt. You will find amazing friends, just maybe not straight away.

Freshers wristbands | Courtesy of Bristol SU 

5. Don’t panic about housing.

The cause of much anger and friendships ending during my first year, sorting out housing is a fickle and difficult process. Firstly, you do not have to sort it before Christmas – period. Secondly, remember that you have only known most of these people for a couple of months. Take your time, find out who you really get on with, and just stay relaxed about the whole situation.

Don't be afraid to ask for help

Now for some quickfire self-explanatory advice:

6. Getting a job

Whatever your economic situation, this is a really good source of part-time work, flexible around university term times.

7. Explore

Some to start you off: Harbourside, Clifton, Ashton Court, Brandon Hill & Cabot Tower, The Downs.

Students playing on The Downs | Epigram / Patrick Sullivan 

8. Back up your work

Don’t be that person that somehow loses their essay the night before submitting. Google Drive or Dropbox both can be set up from your computer to auto-update.

9. Eat Your Vegetables

Simple – take care of yourself and other people.

And finally…

10. It’s okay to not be okay.

University is tough and freshers is a rollercoaster. Speaking personally, I’ve made some incredible friends, had some great night’s out, loved and hated (just a little) my course, played some great music and had my fair share of arguments. Know that you are not alone in this experience and although everyone may appear to be having a great time, all the time, they are almost definitely feeling those some nerves and struggles that you are. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from whoever you feel comfortable with, whether that’s a friend, a lecturer, personal tutor or a mentor. The university offers a wide range of support systems, from the Student Wellbeing Service, Student Counselling Service, Big White Wall and the 24/7 Residential Life Advisers. Be yourself and you’ll find people who will help you through this crazy experience.

Featured:  courtesy of Lizard Lounge

What's the best piece of advice you ever recieved during Freshers' week?