Freshers’ Week is overrated
Don’t feel too pressured to make the first week your best week
Results’ Day has dawned, you’ve got your A*(s) and congratulations, your Cambridge dream has finally materialised! Your next big milestone – Freshers’ Week.
For all of September, the Facebook and Instagram feeds of your friends will be clogged with their Freshers’ Week fun and new-found friends. Come October it’s your turn, at last, to join in. Sorry to rain on your parade, but despite what you may hear, Freshers’ Week is probably not going to be the best week of your Cambridge life.
So here’s the good, the bad, and the downright ugly about Freshers’ week.
Let’s begin with crushing the most obvious myth – Freshers’ Week is not a week long. You’ll probably get to Cambridge on the weekend, by Tuesday you’ll be meeting your DoS and supervisors, and all too soon Thursday comes and lectures start. It may be a week or even two at other unis, but welcome to Cambridge, and you might as well start as you mean to go on. Which is learning to work hard and play hard, unless you want to spend the year being a library hermit.
Freshers’ Week friends can be a bit of a hit and miss. Of course some people are lucky enough to meet their close friends from day one. However, from what I recall, it’s more like a treacherous landmine. You don’t want to end up with no friends, similarly you don’t want to be stuck with a flaky bunch for the rest of the year. Proper friendships take time to develop, and in Freshers’ Week people may not be as they seem, in their attempts to reinvent themselves or impress others.
Fake smiles may be your new best friend as you sit through the umpteenth gap year reminisce. And with the influx of new names and faces, trying to remember them all is an absolute nightmare. Considering that I still got names mixed up at the end of Michaelmas, during Freshers’ week I was just hoping that people were too drunk to notice I was making their names up.
Alcohol can be both friend and foe. Without this social lubricant it may be hard to get on with those you’ve just met, or maybe even just tolerate them. Yet too much and things might not be all fine and dandy. Even if you’re not like me who blurts out everything I think after one drink, it’s likely that you Freshers don’t know your limits yet. Which means you ought to be prepared to deal with sick friends or being helped back by older years. At least you have three years at uni to sort yourself out. Just make sure you have plenty of Ibruprofen for the first week.
The main reason why Freshers’ Week is overrated is because your time at Cambridge gets so much better. Sure, in Freshers’ Week, everything is new and exciting, but it’s also confusing and intimidating. You may feel like a tiny fish in a great big pond, or feel, as most of us did to a certain extent, as a fraud who’d somehow managed to bluff their way in and it was only a matter of time before you were found out. There’s a certain pressure to keep up and fit in. This is something that fades with time as you realise no one really knows what they’re doing and we’re all bluffing our way through our degree, both socially and academically.
Perhaps Cambridge is like a good wine, it only gets better with age. Speaking as the sagacious, old (soon to be) second year that I am, I would say that there are plenty of times that have been better than Freshers’ Week. Take Christmas, for example, or May Week. Being at uni might be the best years of your life, but that doesn’t mean you have to be enjoying every single second of your first week, or that there’s something wrong with feeling lonely or overwhelmed.
Now I’ve burst your bubble, don’t be too upset. Freshers’ Week may not be the best week ever, yet it can still be a heck of a lot of fun. And once you’ve survived Week 1, just wait until Week 5.