Dear Fresher…

Freshers’ week, and sometimes first year in its entirety, can be hard. Here are a few words from someone who went through it and came out the other side.

We’ve all been there. The anxiety paired with excitement; the desperation to make new friends coupled with sudden social ineptitude; and the want for your parents to immediately leave you alone while also hoping they’ll do the next four years with you. Even the coolest of cats has felt this way. They might be strutting their stuff around Halls, concealing their misery in a red Zara puffa, but don’t let them fool you – if you look close enough you may be able to decipher a tear behind those Chanel shades.

I, thank my lucky stars, will not be experiencing Freshers this year. This is not because I’m leading a strike, or because I decided I would remain in London until the week was over, but because in July I was awarded with the title of Graduate. That’s right, graduate. It makes me sound (and no doubt seem) old to the fresh-faced teenagers entering University. But, in fact, as a clueless, broke, and bumbling 22-year-old living back at home, I’m little different to the me that left London for Edinburgh in 2013.

I digress.

This morning on the Tube, I stood next to two girls talking about heading off to halls next week (they’re going to Stratford. They probably couldn’t have been speaking louder even if they wanted to). They were stalking their ‘buff’ flatmates, already planning how many nights out they were going to have, who they were going to kiss, and trying to establish how many drinks was one too many. These two lovely, if somewhat nervous, girls epitomised Freshers' week: comprehension of the unwritten social code, an abundance of expectation, and undeniable party fever.

Freshers' week, and sometimes first year in its entirety, can be hard. Not for all, but certainly for some. Indeed, some personalities are better disposed to cope with the total change brought about by milestones like this one. Others, like myself, struggle. On my first day, in fact, I was so desperate to escape Halls as soon as I could that I became fixated by my lack of toilet paper. My poor father.

Going to university brings with it new freedom, new faces, new friends, and a new home. Your parents tell you: “these are going to be the best years of your life,” “these are going to be the friends you keep forever,” “oh when I was at University, the fun we had!!!” You’re conditioned to think it’s going to be great from the very first moment and continually throughout. This is probably an unrealistic picture. Everything in life, university included, is full of booms and slumps.

To those of you packing your bags as we speak, stuffing every comforting but pointless item imaginable into the car for the long drive, I wish to say this. It’s okay if you don’t love it, be it your first week, first year, or maybe (but hopefully not) any of it. I certainly took my time easing into the university experience (my first week was an emotional rollercoaster, as was much of my first year). What I wish for you freshers, that I did not have and am still without, is patience. Be patient with and gentle to yourself. Stop piling pressure on yourself, and understand that the people you’re meant to spend these years with will find their way to you and you to them. The things you’re meant to do, you will do. For now, breathe and relax into it.

The pieces always find their way into the puzzle.