Every piece of advice second years have for London freshers in 2021

‘Hi, what’s your name, what do you study and what vaccine did you get?’


It’s Freshers’ Week in London, which means that the crazy parties you see in teenage movies from the noughties are finally coming. Speaking as second years who haven’t had the full uni experience yet, it’s the time we’ve all been waiting for, and you lucky freshers get to see it all first-hand.

However, even with all the new faces you meet when you start uni, everyone just seems to ask the same three questions: “What’s your name? What and where do you study? What’s your insta?”

Maybe in a pandemic setting you add a cheeky “What vaccine did you get?” but the conversation, more often than not, does not get deeper than that.

Don’t worry, we’ve all been there; most freshers have experienced the “wtf” moment of scrolling through Instagram in the morning and not knowing whose photos are on their feed. Before you know it, Freshers’ has passed and you look back realising that you may have seen and talked to a hundred people, but only truly know two, and that’s completely okay. 

Rule number one is to never base your whole university experience on Freshers’ Week, and you’ll learn that very soon. Here are our other major pieces of advice to get you through the next week:

1. It’s not a good idea to plan for Freshers’ Week before you arrive

There’s no way you’ll make it through Freshers’ without catching a cold or feeling sick, so we’ll only say this once – do ~ not ~ buy one of those fresher wristband things. You never know what’s going to happen and you probably won’t survive ten days straight of going out clubbing. 

If you ever do feel sick, it’s easy to register with a GP and most London unis have a practice they refer students to – call them, and book a visit.

2. You will find a bunch of weird guys clubbing… 

Although it’s always like that, during freshers it’s way worse. Make sure you go out with a group and don’t walk back home on your own.

3. Try new hobbies at societies

Join a weird society (or two). There are plenty of interesting and exciting societies you can join and things to get involved in on campus. Sometimes you might not enjoy it but at least you tried. Societies are also a great way to get some professional experience and add a couple lines to your CV. 

4. London is not St. Tropez 

Always go for a pair of fancy or black trousers and a cute top. Trust us, the end of September doesn’t feel like summer anymore. You’ll be happy to not have chosen a super short dress instead of trousers when you’re freezing outside the club.

If you still decide to be brave and wear a super short dress, thinking the alcohol will help you forget it’s cold, wear tights, we promise it helps. Also, take a small bag that you’ll be comfortable dancing with because most clubs don’t have the coat check option. And just don’t even consider wearing heels if you don’t want athlete’s foot.

5. Take care of your mental health

Just a little reminder, you do not need to attend every single fresher’s event! Most people you see there probably won’t stick around. There are so many things and events going on that you might feel pressured or overwhelmed.

Seek help if you need to, there are plenty of university mental health and wellbeing lines you can call. Just remember everyone is in the same boat, and even if you don’t feel comfortable talking to your new friends about it yet, some of them will definitely be feeling stressed.

6. Bring the least possible at parties

ID, student card, phone, and that’s it. No need for a Kodak (I’m the first to buy overpriced Kodaks but I’m sure you’ll be able to use it another time). 

7. Literally just say hi

This might sound like a cheesy American college trope, but for those living in student halls, we would really suggest you knock on your neighbour’s door and say hi. It only takes a couple of seconds but at least you get to know who you live with. You never know, you might end up being friends. 

8. Don’t be afraid to start an interesting conversation 

After saying hi, know that there are no rules of conversation you have to follow. Many students are afraid to have a conversation about something other than how many beers they’re able to drink, yet what we all forget is that there is a reason we’re at uni.

As much as most students hate to admit it, most of us have some sort of intellectual curiosity, which is why we are at the same place at the same time. So don’t be afraid to start a conversation about the life experiences and interests that have got you where you are today.

9. Make that bizarrely-named group chat with your new mates

Oh, the beauty of group chats! What’s better than getting a notification about a picnic and being reassured that you won’t be eating your Tesco meal deal alone in the park?

The constant notifications on your phone are also very useful in making you feel less alone – after all, we all have doubts about whether we should ask someone we briefly met a few days ago if they want to take a trip to Tesco for some fruit and ciders.

10. Say yes, but only when you feel comfortable 

Starting university is a challenge in itself, add to that the constant partying, talking with new people and weekly lectures, and our mental health can quickly become vulnerable. It’s important that you set and keep your boundaries.

Say yes to the proposition of going to the pub with your course mates on Wednesday at 5.00pm because why not? But don’t make the mistake of also saying yes to meeting for brunch with your flatmates, going for coffee with that boy that caught your eye at the club and a study session with the girl whose name you forgot that you met in the library last week, all in the same day. Sometimes it’s harder to say no, but you’ll be healthier if you do.

11. Enjoy it before proper uni starts

Try to make the most out of the first few weeks, and enjoy not having classes while it lasts.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

A definitive ranking of London unis based on where the nearest Greggs is

10 weird and wonderful societies you should visit at UCL Freshers’ Fair

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