Here’s all the things I’d tell my naïve fresher self right now

To spare future freshers the embarrassment

Oh to think back to a Covid-free time, where the only thing us freshers were concerned with was getting a decent space in the SU queue and missing that 9am lecture due to a raging hangover. Looking back two years on as a now relatively *mature* student, what are the things I wish I had known then?

Make sure you join societies

Joining societies is a great way to make new friends and learn new skills, yet somehow I didn’t end up joining many, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. How many of us over the course of these three years have signed up to societies in Freshers’ Week with the best intention of turning up to the socials – but somehow never did? Whether I was ‘too busy’, ‘sorry something urgent has just come up’, or frankly was just too shy to make the first step and put myself out there, I always found an excuse not to go.

Whilst I did end up joining – and actually participating – in the Drama Society, I wish I had put myself out there more in first year and joined more societies. Cardiff has such a vast range to select from and I urge any fresher, or any student for that matter, to sign up to something that interests you, no matter how late in the year it is. You’ll feel right at home in no time.

Also, think about which societies, clubs, or various opportunities will look good on future job applications. If for some reason you don’t find a society that suits you, create your own!

Attempting to be Marilyn Monroe for Act One’s ‘Gone too soon’ themed Halloween social.

No, you don’t need another takeaway

Any of my flatmates will agree that I am one of the unhealthiest eaters in my house, and probably the whole of Cardiff if I’m frank. Any excuse for a Deliveroo and I’m there. Whilst having a takeaway a couple of times a week is fine, I think my darkest moment was when I was so hungover I had five takeaways in one day. I wish I had experimented more with home cooking, mixing up my weekly rotation of spaghetti bolognese, fajitas and Lidl curries in favour of something a little more exciting.

Classic ‘Student Special’ from Mama’s.

But this leads to another important issue, which is budgeting. I know I personally struggled a lot with this, especially when ASOS’ 20 per cent student discount was calling my name. But is it really worth going into your overdraft to buy 11 pairs of new jeans..? No. So, if you take any piece of advice from this, work out how much money you have for the term and then set yourself a weekly budget which allows for your food shop, nights out, and the odd spontaneous purchase.

Actually turn up to University lol

I’m not proud to say this, but I’m pretty sure by October of first year I had stopped going to any of my lectures and seminars for one of my history modules. Please, do not go by what I do, but what I say – do not sleep through your lectures! I know it’s easier said than done given the current circumstances, with motivation lacking considerably more due to most classes now being online. But seriously, it is not worth the binge-reading and stress during reading week in order to catch up and meet your deadlines. Try to get on top of your workload early and that will put you in good stead as you progress through the year.

Have fun, but don’t overdo it

“Go hard, or go home”, but let’s not forget that sleep is important too and that freshers’ flu is a b***h. There has been many a time where I have stumbled home bleary-eyed, vomiting into a passing bush or crying over a scenario that I imagined in my drunken state. Or all three at the same time if I was really lucky!

Looking a tad worse for wear

Miss you Senghetto 🙁

While Freshers’ Week is all about having fun and going crazy, I probably didn’t need to carry on with that mindset throughout the entire year. Now more than ever is the time to try and set some time away for yourself and your flatmates to do something more low-key together. For example, a movie night, pamper evening or even just making dinner as a house.

Self-care with the boys

Enjoy it, it goes by so quickly

My last note, enjoy it! It gets rather stressful in second and third year, so make sure your experience in first year is one you won’t regret. University flies by and so it is important you create memories that you’ll treasure forever.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

Listen up: Here’s everything freshers need to know before agreeing to live with someone

How to have a banging uni year without clubs

The new normal: a Cardiff student’s average week during covid