Freshers’ week is over, try to not panic

Molly talks you through how not to lose your cool when reality starts to set in

acting archaeology Books Debating essay essays extracurricular Freshers Freshers Week porters Reading reading lists supervisor UL University Library

Right lads, the hangover of freshers’ is fading, term has kicked off.

You’re probably feeling overwhelmed, stressed and like you have no idea what you’re doing. You may be stumbling through a first essay, trying to navigate your faculty or dreading your first ever supervision. Some of you might even be crying and having a mental breakdown in the UL because you can’t find the one bloody book you need to help you write this archaeology essay and if you can’t find it you’re doomed and what kind of sadistic bastard designed this phallic book labyrinth anyways? 

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In case you hadn’t guessed, I had a crying mental breakdown in the phallic book labyrinth

So, dear freshers, here are a few tips and tricks to help make this first week of term a whole lot less awful and a bit more chilled.

DON’T panic about your reading list

I am a college parent, grandmother and great-grandmother. I was a subject rep for two years. If I had a pound for every fresher that frantically asked me if they would be in huge trouble if they hadn’t read their entire suggested reading list, I would probably be able to buy myself a nice lamp. The answer is no, I assure you literally no one has read the whole suggested reading list. More importantly, even if you haven’t, no one cares.  The key word here is ‘suggested’. This goes for your essay reading lists too. No one is expecting you to read 20 in-depth accounts of the life Rabban Sauma for your essay. Make wise use of the index and learn the fine art of skim reading.

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Do not become this. This is not cute.

DO ask for help

When I had my aforementioned UL breakdown, once I’d managed to sort my face out and (literally) pick myself off the floor, the first place I turned to was the help desk. A kind and patient lady, who clearly sensed I was a fragile fresher, showed me where I could find the books I was looking for. The lesson here is, don’t waste your time freaking out when you are surrounded by clever people whose literal job it is to help you. Call up your DOS, your tutor, the librarian, the porters, whoever, do not be afraid to ask for the help you need.

DON’T expect your work to be perfect

Even with the valiant assistance of the UL helpdesk, that first archaeology essay was still total shit. For most of you, your first essays will also be total shit. That is fine. Now I know a lot of you guys are used to being one of the cleverest kids in your school. You’ve probably figured out by now that this is no longer the case.

The sooner you come to terms with this and accept your unavoidable imperfections, the sooner you’ll be able to improve. Take me for example, after four years, my supervisor said my last essay had ‘some moments of coherence’! Success!

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That ‘this essay would just about scrape a 2.1’ feeling (Photo Credit: Jasmine Walter)

DO distract yourself with some extracurriculars and societies

So once you’ve come to terms with your academic mediocrity, it’s time to start getting your self-esteem from other places. Consider ultimate frisbee, or acting, or debating or oversharing in a column for a student newspaper. In all seriousness, you’re currently faced with an absolute wealth of extracurricular opportunities and it would be criminal not to take advantage of them so that you can spend an additional couple of hours a day stressing out about how your supervisor thinks you’re thick.

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Me looking at the ruins of my academic potential

DON’T forget to factor in some down time

‘But Molly, you’ve just said make sure you do extracurriculars, why are you repeating yourself?’ I know what I said! When I say down time, I’m not talking about going off and playing some sport or attending an improv class or anything vaguely productive. I’m talking about spending an hour sitting in the bath, eating baba ganoush with a spoon and watching videos like this on Youtube. Turning off your brain every now and again is vital. Make sure you do it and your mental health will thank you.

DO know that everyone else is going through the same thing

And I do mean everyone. Your supervision partners, the people on your corridor, the person who sits next to your in lectures and takes an abnormal amount of notes, every last one of them. Everyone is panicking no matter how solid their facade of nonchalance is. So just take a deep breath, calm right the fuck down and repeat after me.

“It’s going to be fine.”