University 'Freshers' Week Anti-Survival Guide
For The Quiet Types
If you’re like me and perhaps you’re sick of hearing about ‘freshers’ as the start of the university year approaches, that’s probably the natural reaction. I have never been much of a party-person or a person-person, and if you’re like me, every time you hear the word ‘freshers’ being brought up in a conversation, it sounds like hell-on-earth. That would be an accurate way to describe it.
As I am now going into my third year and I have to hear the general spiel about how exciting and life-changing freshers will be again, and it usually rowels up the students entering their first year. Unless you’re like me who hated it from the very beginning. So this will be five points that contribute to the anti-survival guide for people who hate people, and will hopefully disillusion some freshers who can’t wait to spend the whole week drunk and being buddy-buddy with their newly acquired ‘housemates’.
You probably won’t be friends with your housemates.
You may hear from your older siblings, relatives, or just through university propaganda that the first week at university is going to be the time of your life. News flash, it won’t be. Most likely when you meet your flatmates for the first time it will be with their parents, and thus proceeds the Mexican standoff that both yours and your housemate’s parents will have. Things like to be run in one way or another in a household and they would not like you to be pushed around due to your housemate’s different lifestyle.
After you move in and meet them, they will either be trying to talk to you at every opportunity or not be speaking to you at all, only speaking when someone needs to take the rubbish out, or when too many plates are stacked around the sink.
If they’re the party-type then the safest space is your own room, and if they have the balls enough to interrupt you, (out of sheer awkwardness) they will knock on your door. They will most likely talk about the events at "freshers" for the whole week, they ask if you have been to them, or they ask you to go with them. The answer is "no." If you expect your life to be like the TV show Friends, prepare to be disappointed. The most interaction you may have will be a simple “hello.”
One redeeming quality of this is that it won’t be Mormons or cold-callers turning up at your door anymore. But you will still get the odd one or two members of the university’s political societies showing up. Otherwise, prepare for leaflets under the door and a knock at the door every other day during freshers week.
This time it will either be: a) people trying to promote freshers events with discount tickets, sent to you by the Student Union, or b) people trying to sell you freshers event tickets within your own block (if you live in student halls).
From experience, the natural answer is to close the door in their faces, as they will most likely try to get into your flat and will only leave until you go into your room, or to buy their tickets. The main tactic involves asking “Can you ask your housemates if they want to buy one?”
And as soon as you let go of the door to ask, they casually come strolling in. If it’s not these people knocking at your door they’re most likely walking around the university campus, and when they see you they won’t leave you alone. Some will simply be fine when your decline their leaflets or clipboards, others will pretend to act like your friend. Just like that one strange kid in secondary school who wouldn’t leave you alone and you didn’t really want there, you know the one.
If wandering around the campus wasn’t bad enough, they will also invade your freshers week lectures and waste most of your time with their "Life is great as a student" act. If all of that didn’t make you feel sick, then your housemates may be even worse.
As it is the first week, they don’t know your boundaries and would most likely try to be too close to you than to keep their distance. This may even include either, trying to get you to drink alcohol, or walk into your room uninvited (the latter is the worst case scenario.)
No Social Circles
There will be no popular people, nerds, or the ones that just don’t fit in. You all don’t fit in and it’s usually every one for themselves. That’s how I’ve experienced it. Everyone tends to ignore other people unless it’s a seminar ice-breaker. People tend to be wrapped up in their own world and anxieties.
Later on in the year, seeing people who are on the same course as you on the street can be awkward (just like seeing a former secondary school student who you knew at the time but wouldn’t consider them as a friend on the street.)
However, I am not saying that you should actively stay away from everyone on your course. If it comes to it, a simple “Hi, how are you?” or a nod will do.
There are two extremes of students: a) the people who can’t stay sober for a week, being that ones that only go to university for the clubbing (and they can afford it too) and b) the ones who spend more than enough time at the library, which is fine, but then they brag about it. You know the type.
However, there are those in between, the people who just want to make it by with the best results they can try to get (A.K.A people who are humble.) In the end, try to find someone from home who you knew from college or school who is going to the same University. Keep them close, it goes a long way.
This may count as a part of the "harassment" section. However, I will have to include societies as its own section because of what they’re trying to harass you for. You may think that joining a society may be within your own interests. What could go wrong with people who share the same hobbies and likings as you do?
One of the main problems is that it will be similar to how you interact with your own flatmates, awkward. And most likely you will interact with your own flatmates more than other members of the society (people come from different backgrounds.) You may also think that you will be a tight-knit group where you can become friends with everyone. This can be possible but commonly there will be too many people within that one society for you to actually connect with them. You may get close to the one or two people but you will never feel actually a part of anything unless you’re somewhat egotistical or a part of the "party-people" type.
One major point I would like to address is that most societies, not all, but the most popular, work similarly like a business (just like the student union.) This may be clear through the roles of presidents, chancellors, and vice-presidents within said societies. It may be cheap for me to say this, but they also milk you for cash (this includes the student union), through membership fees (The Conservative Society seems to usually have the most expensive fee, go figure) and other society activities you have to contribute to, and this is before you spend money on student union events.
The student societies may seem friendly at freshers fair, but it’s nothing more than to acquire more members to gain more profit at the end of the day. Let alone the way they try to make you join a society, they beg you to come to their kiosk. You should have to go to them, not the other way around. If you’re really interested in societies I would suggest that you should try to find something that could be considered lax and recreational, like a D&D society or the Harry Potter Society. Actually, scratch that last one.
All students are equal, but some students are more equal than others.
Yes, I know, this may be crude but it is usually true. However, you are a full-time student and working at the same time is tremendously difficult and it is inevitable to not slip up when it comes to your grades. Thus you may have to be stuck with whatever default maintenance loan you have, and depending on where you are staying, your loan may not even cover the fees.
Therefore, you have a lingering feeling of guilt over your head when you admit that for most of the year you’re stuck on "daddy’s money." While your flatmates or friends are going out clubbing every night during freshers week, it is more than wise to save the money you have now. Sometime down the line, you may live on less than £10 or £5 a week, I know from experience. Water from the tap, bread and butter, done.
Key offenders of "daddy’s money" who live on a £400 monthly allowance tend to be either from the well-to-do countryside or the inner cities, though it’s rare to see inner city Londoners go to a university outside of the Home Counties.
The "Money Problem" when it comes to students can leave you feeling alone, especially if you come from a working class background. However, it is also true if you come from a middle-class background. New books and equipment really do put a financial strain on all students' families. University life seems to show a glorified sense of unity, when in fact it is nothing more than a crucible of culture and class clashes that will probably result in a 10-minute conversation of “Oh, where do you come from?” and “Oh, what accent is that?” which will probably be the only few conversations you will ever have.
You will also never understand how they can afford the amount of alcohol they have in their cupboards, instead, you look in your own cupboard to see a sorry box of Bran Flakes. Well-off students (and those from abroad) tend to stay in student halls rather than in student homes, they can pay the prices of student halls with cash to spare to go clubbing, clothes shopping and have a pretty good time.
So the next time you see people getting excited about freshers week or if the university and the Student Union are forcing the idea down your throat, think to yourself, “Can I really afford this?”