The ultimate freshers’ week survival guide
With rumours flying around left, right and centre, even the idea of freshers’ week can feel like navigating a minefield.
From working out how many Jägerbombs you can buy on a shoestring budget to tackling the ever-growing pile of washing on the floor, freshers’ week is undoubtedly the most fun you’ll ever have, but also a little daunting.
Luckily for you, we’ve wracked our brains and plundered our diaries to present you with the ultimate guide to coming out the other end in one piece.
Scrimp ‘n save
Now don’t get us wrong, working out a weekly budget for the year is a top-notch idea (we’ve even made a handy guide to help you do it). But you’ve got absolutely zilch chance of sticking to it for the first week.
Alcohol and partying aside, freshers is filled with unforeseen costs like buying text books (yes, they are essential) and it’s highly likely you’ll develop a genuine phobia of checking your bank balance.
Save as much as you can for this week ahead of time. Factor in one-off costs like your freshers’ pass or wristband, which gets you entry in to all the biggest events, and put together your own special freshers’ week budget.
You won’t want to miss out on anything because you can’t afford it, so make sure to save and plan ahead. And remember: money spent making friends is not money wasted!
You may have always dreamed of becoming a member of the Liechtensteinian monarchy or a world-class polo player, but it’s probably best to hold off on the dodgy accents for now.
It’s never a good idea to try to reinvent yourself at uni; people will see straight through it and you’ll feel much more comfortable if you aren’t trying to be someone you’re not.
You’ll unavoidably change and grow up at uni, but that comes with the experience, not because you’re trying. However…
Don’t be shy
Even if you normally wouldn’t make the first move to introduce yourself to somebody, make the effort and others will be grateful. Remember that you’ve all been thrown in to the same situation and – as a general rule -strangers really don’t bite.
Smile and be nice. If you hold back you’ll regret it. If you find it hard to approach people, stick some music on while you’re moving in to your room and prop the door open, people will say hello as they pass. You can also check out our handy guide to surviving shared living.
Make an effort to remember people’s names and they’ll be more likely to remember you. Even if you don’t want to make friends, think of the money! Bulk-buys equals more pennies left in your pocket.
Do your admin
Okay, so spending half a day queued up and doing paperwork isn’t exactly living the dream, but get it out-of-the-way or it will come back and bite you in the posterior.
Suggest going to register at the doctors or university library with people you have met in halls. The queues are long so use them as an opportunity to get to know people.
Remember to take all the relevant documents when signing up for anything, like your photo ID and passport sized pictures so you don’t have to come back again or pay for new ones on the spot.
Sign up to societies
Go to the freshers’ fair and shop around. Most universities have hundreds of clubs, from basketball to pizza appreciation so you’re bound to find something that interests you. You can even become a pirate!
Be careful though. Don’t sign up for clubs that want a registration fee upfront unless you’re sure you’ll stick to it. You might regret spending that £10 when you don’t even turn up for one Toastie Lovers’ club meeting.
Becoming a bit extra-curricular is a great way to meet people outside of your accommodation, plus the sports teams’ nights out are always the best!
Pick the events you want to go to
There are so many events in freshers it’s easy to feel guilty for ducking out on the odd one or two. But don’t panic, the earth will keep turning.
The truth is you’ll get to know your new flatmates much better during nights in than when you’re nervously smiling at each other over loud music and over priced drinks. You’ll also enjoy your nights out more if you’re not riddled with yesterday’s hangover.
Come armed with a deck of cards and a bottle opener, and stock up on sweets and tea bags, especially if you live in halls. It sounds stupid but sharing will help you meet people and make a great first impression!
Also, bring your favourite feel good movies – for homesick moments and wallowing in your hangover.
Scout out student bargains
It’s amazing how much better things taste when they’re discounted or free. So make sure to snag yourself an NUS student library card early on. This is the card to prove you are a student to grab some juicy student discounts.
Even if a shop doesn’t advertise a student discount it’s always worth giving it a go (see our haggling tips), and always make sure to hunt out glitches and voucher codes when shopping online.
You might also notice a few other student discount cards, which you often have to pay for. Most of the time they aren’t worth the money, but it’s still worth checking what they give you.
Finally, keep tabs on our student deals section too, it’s just like Christmas if it were a deals site!
Fancy dress is essential
Before you laugh at the guy who’s staggering down the hall with sixty different outfits, it’s worth remembering that freshers’ week is all about fancy dress.
There’s no need to spend a fortune though, pack bits and bobs like your old school tie or that eye patch and sword from last Halloween to vamp up a stripey top and viola – free fancy dress for all!
Leaving home can be more of a shock than you might expect. As inviting as it may be to spend an hour crying to your mum on the phone, try to refrain. It will only worry her and give you puffy eyes.
Five minutes letting it out before the next pub crawl is fine, but don’t waste freshers’ week feeling sorry for yourself. If you’re struggling you can always check out our tips to overcome it.
You may actually find it easier NOT to talk to people at home too much at first. Avoiding the famous Freshers’ flu with plenty of Vitamin C will also make it easier not to hide under the covers.
Don’t be that girl or guy
Getting so drunk you get with a complete ‘loser’ during freshers’ week will haunt you for the rest of first year and beyond. Focus on making friends, not on romantic interests (they’ll come naturally).
Finally, do remember that freshers’ week isn’t your average week at university. Yes, you’ll still be tempted to go out every night, but once you get in to a routine you’ll find it much easier to look after your pennies.
And trust us, the desperate urge to grab the nearest friendly face and proclaim them your “new best friend” will pass, and the real best years of your life will commence.
For more tips on how to avoid mishaps and mistakes, visit our list of 30 you’re bound to make.