5 things I learned in Freshers’ week

Fresher’s week survival tips that every new arrival should follow

freshers freshers week small talk socialise students talk

Freshers’ week means no parents, no rules, no bedtime.

1. Leave your bloody room.

There’s always one serial loner in every block that refuses to leave their room, and if you haven’t identified them in the first few days, then it’s probably you. While everyone else is getting to know each other and having fun, they’ll be sat in their rooms, presumably putting up posters, neatly arranging their desk, or some other boring ‘just moved in’ activity that they apparently have to do the very second they arrive.

In the worst cases, this can go on for weeks or even months. I even heard horror stories about a group of friends attempting to get to know a guy on their floor by constantly knocking on his door, only to finally be allowed in and find the floor littered with plastic bottles filled with a very dubious looking yellow liquid. There’s definitely a lesson to be learnt there – if you don’t want to be known as the guy who pisses in bottles, leave your room and socialise.

You don’t want to be known as the guy who pisses in bottles

2. Try to talk to absolutely everyone.

Freshers’ week is one of the only times in your university life when everyone’s perfectly OK with talking to absolute strangers, and you should take advantage of it. Go on, go up and talk to that pretty girl. You like that guy’s shoes? Go and tell him. That person is on your course? Say hello.

Like I mentioned before, nobody really knows anyone, and the high blood-alcohol level that you should be working hard to maintain throughout the week will make sure there’s no initial awkwardness.  Make the most of it and introduce yourself, before everyone retreats into their friendship groups and looks at you like a piece of dog shit stuck to the bottom of their shoe if you spontaneously try and speak to them. Go for it, but bear in mind this next point…

3. Think up something interesting to say.

“What are you studying?” “Where are you from?” “Where are you living?” I can guarantee these are the three questions that you’ll be asked (or ask other people) at least 10,001 times during Freshers’ week. Don’t get me wrong, they make for excellent small-talk, and as enthralling a subject they most surely already are, they can definitely be used to springboard yourself into slightly better conversations.

If you’re stuck for something to talk about, just lie.

Please though, if only for my sake, don’t let these questions be the extent of your chat; think of something more interesting to say.  I say this just in case I get talking to one of you, and we find ourselves at a crushingly awkward impasse after 20 seconds – situations like that are never fun for anyone. If you’re stuck for something to talk about, just lie. Chances are it won’t come back to haunt you, and even if it does, it’d probably make for a funny Tab article. If you’ve managed to navigate this social minefield, then remember this next one –

4. You shouldn’t feel bad for not talking to people afterwards.

You’re going to speak to loads of people in Freshers’ week, far more than you can realistically keep in touch with afterwards. If you see someone who you had a drunken chat with on the first night a few weeks down the line, don’t feel obliged to greet them like a long-lost friend. Instead, share a single emotionless nod of acknowledgement, then silently feel bad for not keeping in touch. That’s what I did anyway and it worked for me – maybe I’m cold-hearted but I didn’t feel bad too for long. Ah well.

5. Drink. But don’t drink too much.

I know what you’re thinking: “Oh, I didn’t realise The Tab had asked my parents to contribute to this article.” Am I right? Thought so. Seriously though, I was sick in Freshers’ week, twice. That might sound like a pathetically small amount to all you UniLads® out there, but if I could do the whole thing again, I’d stop after that 12th beer and choose to end the night as a staggering mess, rather than a vomiting, staggering mess. You should be spending your Freshers’ week meeting new people and making friends with your flatmates, not spending hours hunched over a toilet after you’ve had to go home early. First impressions are very important, and do you really want your flatmates’ first impressions of you to be “that guy who was sick in his trousers, fell down a flight of stairs and went to sleep in the corridor”?  Trust me, you don’t.