Take this from a fresher: Freshers’ Week 2020 was a write-off

We knew Freshers’ Week during 2020 was doomed…

Look, we all know that anything that 2020 touches gets turned to ash. We’ve learnt this, and we’ve got to make the most of it. Everything is online now; lectures can just about be substituted by virtual replacements, and digital seminars are just as awkward as the in-person ones were.

Freshers’ Week wasn’t something that could have (or even should have) been fully replaced. We all knew it. That aside, here’s how it played out.

It started off as awkward as expected: a series of generic questions, some strange drinking games and everyone retreating to the safety of their rooms by midnight. Despite the long day, I wasn’t very tired and wanted to explore campus, so decided to go on a late-night stroll. This was my first mistake.

Attending a party you don’t want to be at

One of my friends had arrived a day before me and just happened to be standing outside as I walked past so shouted me over. I can’t quite remember what happened next but I ended up in different flats, drinks being handed to me and deafened by the blaring music.

It was great, until I became aware of the fact that I knew nobody around me and had completely lost track of my friend. Within seconds, I went from having the time of my life to having a panic attack. Shaking, hyperventilating, sweating, the works.

I made my way out between the drunk people dancing and belting out “Wrecking Ball” then stood staring at each of the identical buildings trying to figure out how to get back to my flat. As soon as I did get back, no idea how drunk me managed it, I sat crying on my bed and swore off any other Freshers’ parties, thoroughly overwhelmed.

So, we can probably put a lot of that down to being very drunk and very emotional. After all, I had just been abandoned by my parents to live with a bunch of strangers for the next year… But how bad could that be?

What about those of us that don’t get on with our flatmates?

People tell you “living in halls is so much fun – you won’t get along with everyone, but it will still be fun!”

What they don’t prepare you for is not getting on with any of them. I hadn’t got off to a particularly good or bad start with my flatmates, but I wouldn’t describe the next few days as great. It mostly consisted of me being ignored when I asked questions, being left out of group outings and despite keeping my door open (as many websites tell you that this is a great way to befriend people) only one of them bothered to talk to me. I tried to keep a positive mind-set and convince myself that it would get better. It didn’t.

I ended up spending most of my time towards the end of Freshers’ Week with my friend and their flatmates (who are lovely) asking them for advice on what to do. This was my second mistake.

Where’s the college spirit?

So far, I have sworn off house parties and my flatmates aren’t ideal; however, surely one of Lancaster’s benefits is the college system. You know the thing they like to describe as “family”. In tough times we can rely on that “family” to save Freshers’ Week, right?

No. No we can’t. I won’t name names, but in my college, if you weren’t on every single group chat (WhatsApp, Snapchat and Facebook) then you would miss a lot.

Most events were cancelled or moved online (without much notice, but some of that was beyond their control) on these chats, so if you weren’t on them you may turn up and wait for a campus tour that wasn’t going ahead. (Definitely didn’t do that.) The one event that still went ahead, involved walking around on a scavenger hunt for an hour at seven pm in the cold. Only to find out the prize had already been won.

I want to go home

Image may contain: Female, Bed, People, Drinking, Furniture, Clothing, Apparel, Drink, Beverage, Cushion, Pillow, Face, Person, Human

If I haven’t convinced you that Freshers’ Week is overrated yet, just wait. Think back to me peacefully chilling with my friend’s flatmates and that party, it turns out I had interacted with someone who had tested positive for coronavirus.

Within hours of finding this out I was isolated in my room, as my flatmates had a pizza party, and had to book a COVID test. Dreading being in quarantine for two weeks there and incredibly homesick, I did what any reasonable first year would do. I rang my parents and made them pick me up, then cried the entire three hour journey home, only to find out the next day I had tested positive for COVID and I’m now spending my next two weeks in isolation.

So, in conclusion, Freshers’ Week, or at least Freshers’ Week 2020, was a huge write-off.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

Decorate your Lancs uni room and we’ll tell you which college you really belong in

Here’s how to report COVID-19 as a Lancaster Uni student

Lancs students can face exclusion if they are found to have a mixed household gathering