UCL students give freshers the advice they wish they’d had

Everything you need to know in one handy article

Freshers’ Week is a time of legends for new students nationwide. For your friends at campus universities, their experiences will be pretty stereotypical, but for London Freshers you’re about to be exposed to a whole new world. Navigating new friendships, societies and the multitude of London clubs – not to mention finding out how not to be charged £10 for a vodka orange – will be tough, but we’re here to help you through it.

We asked some UCL students to give you the advice they wish they’d had for Freshers’ Week and beyond.

Karolina, Psychology

Be yourself and don’t feel you need to reinvent yourself at uni. Smoking areas at clubs are great for meeting people even if you don’t smoke; they’re especially great for meeting people from other London unis like SOAS, Kings’ or LSE. But don’t bring your card to clubs – contactless is far too dangerous.

David, English Literature

Definitely join societies and try the free welcome events. They may seem scary at first with loads of competent people, but they’re so welcoming and accept that everyone needs to start somewhere. There’s nowhere else in the world where you’ll be able to try all these new hobbies and meet people with similar interests for such a small cost!

Pippa, Psychology

If you get along well with your flatmates, make a rota for buying things you all use e.g. air freshener for the bathroom, washing up liquid etc. We also had a blackboard in the kitchen with a milk rota – if you buy big milk cartons to share it will save you a fair amount of money and you won’t be stuck with sad, curdled milk on your cereal.
Don’t start cooking when you get home from a night out and are still drunk. You may burn the kitchen down or at best, find this in your kitchen the next morning:

Yes, that is spaghetti…

Sam, History

Just turning up is 90% of the task. Always say yes; during my Fresher’s week I was at one point snorting Sainsburys basics cider off a fellow fresher’s back and there’s always the classic getting with a girl on a Wednesday, her being blissfully unaware (for a time) of the amount of catfood, raw onion and vomit that has passed by your tonsils barely an hour before. Also, really don’t bother going to introductory lectures. It’s never too late to just turn up to training having missed trials. And you’ll probably be wearing your school tie through the whole thing.

Kyle, Ancient History and Egyptology

I made a lot of great friends in my first week of Freshers by going to loads of events and trying out different societies that appealed to me in the “Give it a Go” weeks that followed. Definitely take the time to familiarise yourself with the route and your surroundings if you’re new to London for the first time: it’s a beautiful city! Also, just be you – there’s no style or fad that you have to fit into, nobody that you need to really impress or gain the approval of.
University is a big place, and the world even bigger still: the people you’re meant to be friends with will find their way to you if you walk the path that feels right to you.

 Alex, Chemistry

I think I only did my second freshers week right. The first time I didn’t think much of it all and stuck with the people I knew but the second time I went to every society I could that looked even remotely interesting and tried their introductory events.

Melody, Psychology with Education

Choose your second-year flat and flatmates wisely, don’t rush into it. Travel lots! Find your passion and goals and work hard on it.

Louis, Politics and East European Studies

Don’t miss Freshers week like I did. Don’t take it personally if you make friends early on and don’t hear from them again. Throw yourself into the deep end.

Harriot, Natural Sciences

In all honesty, there wasn’t as much support as was perhaps needed, so making friends with Londoners is definitely a top tip.

I’d had many an exciting night out in my hometown, and was eager to experience London life…however, it wasn’t quite what I expected. Personally, I paid far too much money to attend Freshers events at clubs that are far too crowded and people throwing up into plant pots (that wasn’t me…?).

On the other hand I met some of my closest friends in this week, so socialise as much as you can, go to the pub for a chat, visit museums and experience London together.

Alexandra, Classics

It’s not cool to pretend you can drink an entire bottle of vodka for pres, I know guys twice my size who can’t do it. Don’t be the person who has to be taken to the emergency room in freshers week by a bunch of people who don’t even know your surname! So much effort goes into being at uni, don’t make more for yourself by creating a persona you have to stick to for 3 years.

You don’t have to decide who you’re living with in December, like your friends who aren’t in London. The odds are you’ll change friendship groups at least three times before June, don’t make promises you’ll have to break later. Get a doorstop! Such an old tip but it works, it’s the easiest way to strike up a conversation with people on your floor. It doesn’t hurt to know your neighbours, especially when you need to borrow their milk or a chopping board.

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