A debate on the messiest week of your life
Freshers’ week – you either love it or hate it. It’s hyped up to be a first years dream, an introduction to the best three years of their life packed with booze non-stop partying and beautiful people. For many, the reality is that you’re shoved into a new place, horded into clubs you’d never normally go to while you try to force friendship with people that you don’t actually like. Here’s both sides of the life-long debate – is freshers’ week actually any good?
No, freshers’ is overrated
Come on, it’s time to admit it. Freshers’ is hugely overrated.
It’s advertised as a milestone in your life, a rite of passage, the point where you realise the restrictions of your home life and learn the meaning of freedom, being able to do what you want without worrying dear old mum will get an ear-full. It’ll be a week long Project X, they say. Turns out, it’s actually just projectile vomit and long conversations about someone’s soon to be ex.
The week serves a basic purpose, it allows new students a small period of time to adjust to a new regime, city and group of people before throwing them into their first year. In proportion to this, freshers’ are told of a “mad”, “once in a lifetime” week where anything goes.
The impression given is the carefree hedonism of one of those American college movies. The reality is a dozen strangers, awkwardly talking, sat in a tiny strip lit kitchen, trying to come up with a card game more than three people know.
You’ll sit and listen to a keen socialite lie about doing coke, because that’s how to make yourself seem interesting to people. This bursting of the bubble by the sheer prick of reality occurs at either prison like accommodation that’s been decaying since the end of Thatcher, or a characterless modern development complete with a depressing smell of newness.
Freshers’ is not what it is made out to be. The best nights occur later on in uni when everyone has learned not to care, when you can be without the pressure of first impressions. During freshers’, everything will seem like the be all and end all of life – people confess their love to those they’ve only known a few days, a kiss is apparently the start of long term love, a one night stand the ruining of a reputation. Do any of this a few weeks into term starting and it’s just par for the course. You haven’t really known anyone long enough to not worry about how you act around them, or share a free flowing conversation based around more than your name, where you’re from, what your course is or if you went Maga.
The other reason none of the best nights occur in freshers’, is that no one really knows the city they’re in well enough to avoid making tragic errors in judgement on where to go and what to do. Events like the freshers’ Icebreaker (you’ll queue 40 minutes for a drink – seriously) or even the Guild events (not even Basshunter could save them) left you going home early, sober and with empty pockets.
It pointed out that you were a walking pound sign to be milked in return for jagerbombs and watered down shots. The week is essentially hopping from club to club, dancing in silence, getting bored and leaving, wondering if this is what the rest of uni will be like. Luckily it isn’t, once you get to know the people and the place it picks up, prinks are less awkward and people more forgiving.
However if freshers’ teaches you anything, it’s to lower your expectations in the future. Be prepared, newbies – freshers’ is all a fad.
Yes, freshers’ teaches you so much
Screw the haters – pickling your liver is vital to student experience.
Freshers’ week teaches you that introductory module lectures are pointless, and missing lectures doesn’t mean you’ll get an after school detention. You realise you don’t need to buy textbooks, that it’s better to go and have a coffee at Starbucks than enter a lecture late and that your Academic Adviser is about as useful as your IKEA mini ironing board. Freshers’ reveals to the newborn raver that the mystery of Pop World and its aggressive promoters is just a near-empty room with the odd stripper pole and a couple of middle aged men. It sorts the shit clubs from the good ones. It proves that a Carnage t-shirt is the equivalent of paying to enjoy a mosh pit down Concert Square in the rain.
So, freshers’ might not be enjoyable, or even remotely fun. It’s a week of pretending to like people who are dicks, drinking more quad vods than your liver can cope with and feeling like you can’t chat to anyone unless your eyeballs are unable to focus. But by the end of the week, you’ll have a couple of people you can call friends, who’ve all exchanged bodily fluids. And you’ll have realised you can do shit all in first year. The ambitions of a 1st will have faded to hopes of a 2:2 and your internal organs will be pickled, but you’ll be such buddies with your hall neighbour that you won’t mind hearing his Netflix and Chill sessions with the girl from downstairs for the rest of the year.
Everybody no longer a fresher loves to hate freshers’ week now – the backlash is real. Suddenly, it’s cool to be cynical about having fun and a week of blind drunk partying isn’t fitting into the lifestyle of teatoxs, Calvin Klein underwear and green smoothies. Just as Malia is now allegedly for the GCSE age group, we’re also being told that foam parties are embarrassing, Carnage is actually carnage and smurf parties are down right ludicrous.
But come on, who doesn’t look back at freshers’ with a grim, self-satisfied and smug nostalgia? It’s a rite of passage, a tradition of old – the boundary of undi-dom, the first leap into the unknown world of independent living, one small step for any old student, one huge leap for the fresh meat.
Fresher’s week epitomises British awkwardness – it’s a uniquely Blighty event. No other country struggles so greatly with human interaction that its terrified new university students have to vomit into someone else’s hands to make friends. Yeah, the Americans go wild when they turn 21 but they make uni frirends by sharing rooms. SHARING ROOMS. Can you imagine? British students would actually implode from the tension in that dorm room. We need a week of alcohol induced bumping, grinding and girls loo-breaks just to form basic human connections.
Without freshers’, no student would have any friendships for a whole three years. Third years would still be living in halls, unable to make the leap and speak to a fellow student past an awkward nod in the corridors. Drinking copious amounts of alcohol breaks down the barriers of British embarrassment – it pushes us into the arms of unknown neighbours whose cutlery, and food, will be become vital as the year goes on. We, as British students, need freshers': it enables us to release the fear and the panic we face with the reality of university. It soothes the pain of leaving Mummy at home.