Freshers’ Means Pressure
ALEX MANSELL is back
Ok Freshers, here’s some advice you won’t find in your college handbook. Rule no. 1 of Freshers Week? Don’t sleep around. Ok, if you have to do it, at least try to keep it on the DL. Not exactly what you wanted to hear I know, but hear me out on this one. I’m not saying this on the assumption you’re all crazy horny young things but Freshers is a f*cked up time, and it’s easy to get lost in a world of sex and pressure and alcohol.
Freshers Week is potentially the greatest week of your life: the only time when reckless abandon and even more reckless drinking are not only condoned, they’re encouraged. It’s like Christmas every day. Everyone’s in a good mood. The rules change. You start to forget what it is to be in a normal state because for a week you’re either drunk or hung over. It’s a bit like an accelerated version of the post-exam gold rush, a period of time when promiscuity is the norm. Alcohol flows, meeting new people is first on the agenda, and talking to randoms is completely normal at this time of year.
Naturally everyone wants to have a good time; they want their first week at uni to be one of hedonism and debauchery, something to shout about. It’s so easy to have a just-don’t-give-a-f*ck attitude, to be all hellllll yeahhh I’m a student, and those new to the game are particularly susceptible.
Freshers, like it or not, you are Fresh Meat. Innocent, wide-eyed, vulnerable, you are the perfect easy target for any seasoned 2nd or 3rd year. And I’m not just talking the girls. Guys, you too are at risk of being corrupted by the cougars of Durham, who prowl the cobbled streets armed with experience and tequila.
Now I’m not saying you should avoid pursuing or being pursued. I’m just telling you, for the sake of your reputation, to be careful. The minute you open your legs, people will open their mouths, and there’s nothing quite like college gossip for labelling you for posterity. You’ll find that generally your business will become college business, so you’d do well to keep a low profile for the first fortnight you’re here.
Trust me when I say there’s plenty of time throughout the year to get your kicks. Freshers Week is make or break situation, the carving of your reputation. How you act now will determine how people see you for a long time, and even if you redeem yourself with nun-like behaviour or the rest of term, the damage will have been done.
Everybody likes to have a college slut. Or several. And it’s very easy to get yourself into that category. Even just by pulling a few too many you risk becoming a joke, lowering your market value to the point you’re no longer considered a realistic pulling object. Being a whore early on is detrimental to making future conquests. Durham is a small place. There’s always a friend of a friend who might know your name. The present-you might well be cockblocking the future-you.
Obviously I’m not saying you need to be celibate the whole time. Just make sure that you go for quality not quantity. There’s no need to settle for mediocrity, just because the LETSGOF*CKINGMENTAL Freshers Week mentality tells you do. How many people you do or don’t get with is completely up to you, and you shouldn’t let your choices be dictated by the need to feel like you’re a player or whatever.
When you do make the pull, try to do it discreetly. It takes one dodgy picture on Facebook for others to judge your character, and for the sake of scandal, people generally like to think the worst. Also be discreet in what you tell others. Fun as it is to disclose the who, what and when of your Freshers Week antics, it’s advisable to try to keep it to closer friends. ‘Durham bubble’ is a phrase you’ll hear a lot while you’re here, and there’s a reason for that.
One other thing is to try not to make your way through a friendship group, for this is a sure-fire way to be labelled easy. Diversity is key here: it’s better to get with people from different colleges to reduce the dreaded mutual friend risk, mutual friends being the curse of the Durham sex scene. Oh, and be warned that, Durham being Durham, you will most definitely see them again, so make sure you actually fancy them. See my article from March for details on how to deal with this.
So I guess what I’m saying is a have a fun time, do whatever (and whoever) you wanna do, but don’t do it in a way that means it’ll get around. Durham’s rumour mill is forever churning: don’t be one of its victims.