Things I wish I’d known as a fresher

A whole year older and wiser, Sophie Belcher passes her first year wisdom down to the next generation of freshers

Fancy Dress first year freshers nights out predrinking students the tab the tab exeter

Hindsight, as they say, is a wonderful thing.

After all your years at uni, between those dreaded 9am lectures, those all-nighters you pulled and that time you woke up to find a traffic cone in your hallway with no recollection of how it got there, you learned a lot – and that’s not just from the hundreds of hours you spent in the library. (Okay, the tens of hours.)

If you could go back and give a few nuggets of wisdom to your Fresher self, or just give a few pointers for this year’s newbies, what would you say?

Here’s a definitive list, from someone that’s been there, done it and got the university hoody:

Don’t try and pack your entire room

The art of packing light: a hard one to master

It’s tempting to try and take every worldly possession that you own because you think that, by packing your car up to the roof with boxes, you’ll somehow be able to recreate your room at home.

Unfortunately, the rooms in halls are usually not much bigger than your usual walk-in wardrobe (and that’s including the en-suite).

Once you’re parents leave, you’ll then be left in your very own cardboard box fort wondering where the hell you’re going to put it all.

Add to that all the stuff you’ll accumulate over the year and the fact that you have to try and get it all back home at the end of the year and you have yourself a total nightmare.

Sometimes, it’s wise to be brutal.

Do pack all your fancy dress clothing

Come prepared for the classic ‘Cats and Robots’ theme

From 80’s Glam Rock to fateful nights at Barbie and Ken-themed English Soc. socials that start with far too much fake tan and end up in mid-afternoon walks of shame, fancy dress is huge at University, and those random items reserved only for dress-up will see – finally – the light of day.

One of the greatest things at university is sitting in your pyjamas the following afternoon, with a hangover to rival all hangovers and glitter still down your face from the night before, going through the Facebook photos with your flatmates.

Get a Uni hoody

Probably the best university hoody in the world indeed

First of all, they’re the comfiest thing in the universe. Besides that, though, it will be your ultimate saviour when you’ve got a 9am seminar, only arrived home from a night out four hours previously and have to be at Queens in 30 minutes.

Throw on your hoody, some Wayfarers and a pair of leggings and people will just automatically assume that you’ve had a heavy night. No questions asked. It’s like your post-lash uniform.

This rule also applies to the majority of the items in the Guild shop with exception of onesies. Hangover or no hangover – save that one for your living room.

Don’t get lured in by the campus bookshop

Blackwells gets boycotted

Yes, it has your entire reading list in one place. And, yes, it does seem like a better option than a 20 minute walk to Waterstones, but you will thank yourself later for avoiding it.

For your textbooks or the kinds of books that are a nightmare to get hold of, it’s brilliant. But for the rest, look online – otherwise you’ll end up spending an absolute fortune.

A fortune that can be much better spent at Princesshay or The Ram.

Learn to layer

Students, like good boy scouts, are always prepared

You will very quickly learn that, in terms of temperature within the university, there is absolutely no middle ground.

Whether you’re in Peter Chalk, or the Forum library, Queens or Geoffrey Pope, it will either be the closest you’ll ever get to being on the insides of an active volcano – or akin to a night’s stay in the Ice Hotel.

Comfortable temperatures simply don’t exist.

Be ready to either be stripping off or piling clothes on at a moment’s notice. Nobody wants to be the idiot in the jumper when it’s 34 degrees in the lecture theatre and everyone else is in a tank top. You just don’t.

Freshers can be spotted a mile away

The emotional breakdown at the printer: a traditional Fresher experience

You can try as hard as you like to blend in with those comfortable looking third years as they chat outside the Forum.

You can believe with every inch of your being that you look anything other than utterly terrified when confronted with the prospect of your first experience with the library referencing system.

But you won’t.

No matter how much all that travelling in your gap year “changed you as a person” and really made you feel that you’d “like, just really outgrown everyone around you” because, of course, you’ve got “like, so much life experience now,” there’s thousands of other people uttering those exact words.

It’s probably your first time living away from home, you’ve had a hefty chunk of student loan cash popped into your bank account and not waking up until mid-day is now a completely acceptable occurrence.

You might try and hide your excitable peppiness. Unbeknown to you, though, you’ve still got Fresher written all across your face.

Don’t get overexcited with homeware shopping

Maybe the sixth kettle is a tad excessive

The second that email pops into your inbox confirming your choice of accommodation, it’s only a matter of time before the lure of shopping for your first uni flat will guide you towards that pink toaster you’ve had your eye on ever since you made the decision to even go to uni.

The matching pink kettle will end up in your basket too and, before you know it, you’ll have bought enough stuff to kit out a house big enough for a family of four.

What you won’t discover until moving in day rolls around, however, is that the other four people in your flat have done exactly the same.

Contrary to popular belief, nobody needs five toasted sandwich makers.

If only you’d waited until you got there, you might not be faced with finding space (and plug sockets) for all those George Foremans and, as for the kettles, there are not enough teabags in the world to constitute that amount.

Be playlist-conscious

You can’t hide that secret Taylor Swift passion forever

Pre-drinking is a university institution and those first few nights out, for Freshers, are make-or break. It’s those few hours before you all head out that will cement the friendships that you’ll have for the rest of your time at uni.

You’ve made enough vodka jelly to knock out a racehorse, everyone’s brought a bottle (or seven) and your iPod is the nominated one that’s been placed gingerly on the iPod dock. You’ve put it on shuffle and got on with your evening.

But, oh what’s this? The VengaBoys? The entire room goes silent as you leap across the kitchen to skip the track as the stark realisation hits that you’ve made a terrible, terrible mistake. You’ve trusted the shuffle.

Playlists are the one and only way to avoid this and even then it’s risky business. Be playlist savvy. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later.