Freshers’ Week and the baptism of awkward
Forget Freshers flu, nothing compares to the hardships of human interaction
Freshers’ is the best week of first year, but it’s also a minefield of awkward social situations that everyone has to stumble through, made even worse by the onslaught of freshers’ flu…
The clingy ‘friend’ from school
Shivers went down your spine when you got to the bottom of their yearbook page: yup, you’ve got them for another four years.
Just when you think you’re safe, the text will come through – ‘what club you heading to tonight?!’ How the hell did they get your number.
Even worse, you’ll spot your unmistakably uncool leavers’ jumper with an enthusiastically waving arm attached to it. It’s also waving goodbye to your new indie friends.
The actual friend from school
No apologies here – lying about how cool you were in your previous life is that bit harder when there’s someone who knows the tragic truth at the same pre.
“Games of ‘never have I ever’ were the worst”, said Anna Coady, a second year student at Edinburgh.
“Unless you’ve managed to form a truce beforehand, having someone that knows the right questions to ask basically means you’re in for a tough time”.
Exhausted and downbeat from hours of hard graft with that girl in the common room that left to Facetime her boyfriend, your room is your happy sanctuary away from the social tribulations of Freshers Week.
But faced with a corridor full of open doors, getting there is another matter.
If the occupants aren’t airing out the smell of sick from the night before, then those doorstops (symbolic of token, usually futile, efforts to make friends) are there for a more sinister reason entirely: to lure in unsuspecting peers and cruelly subject them to mundane chat.
Supper only opens at five but its midday and you’ve already texted all seven of the numbers you accumulated the night before, begging them to go with you. Unfortunately most of them are at least a few digits short and the only number you took down soberly was an RA’s.
“We had to make sure there were never any spare seats at our table”, said Olivia Harper, a recent graduate from Pollock Halls. Apparently this wasn’t even to look more popular.
“We had this one sleazy RA who’d roam the JMCC looking for potential victims. We’d occasionally find him in club night photos, lurking behind us when none of us had even known he was there.”
Losing old nicknames
You probably thought your old nickname was quite funny. Everyone understood the context of the name ‘Schweffy Steve’ – it was meant to be a house party, not a sleepover, just the other guys didn’t show up. You’ve actually kissed, well, several girls since then (and although her Facebook profile doesn’t do her justice) one of them was actually quite fit.
Ditching the freshers friend
The things you’re prepared to overlook just for the social gratification of having someone to talk to – be it a tragic gap year necklace, bad breath, or simply the fact you don’t have a single thing in common. You probably just wanted to scan the room for better befriending opportunities without looking weird.
Only once you’ve followed them to their room, and seen the row of pristine Star Trek action figures sitting cosy in their unopened boxes – or, even worse, a bulging textbook crammed with more post-it notes than actual pages – do you realise just how big a mistake you’ve made.
Rachel Donald, a student at Aberdeen University, tells a traumatic tale of her Freshers friend who “could only eat food from Waitrose, and was really struggling because there was only an M&S in Aberdeen”.
“She went on to explain that she was sick if she ever ate from anywhere other than Waitrose. What was worse was that she was in my room so I couldn’t even leave, I just had to listen to her first world problems for hours”.
Even when you do meet someone you get on with, conversations always seem to start the same way. Although ‘what course do you do?’ is a useful question to gauge how nice you have to be to someone (that is, whether you have to put up with them for one year or all four), it’s also intensely dull. As a result – and contrary to popular belief – pretending not to die a little inside every time you’re quizzed on your degree is a more valuable Freshers skill than downing pints, and far more difficult.
On a side note, if you didn’t lie in your personal statement (and your thirst for knowledge in your given field really is ‘unquenchable’) then you’re in for a treat. Go buy a doorstop