Advice from a seasoned student on how to get your first semester of uni right
Regrets, regrets everywhere
We’ve all been there. Lying in bed, exactly 9 hours into the post-festival comedown caused by some questionably sourced drugs, and suddenly the thought hits you. University. Along with all the nervousness and emotional baggage it carries. But fear not freshers, or at least, not yet. Because, through hard earned experience, and a spate of intellectual 4am conversations in the Antwerp smoking area, I have compiled a guide on how not to lose your sanity in first year. Or at the very least, put it off until second semester.
The first few weeks of uni can be a pretty intense time for you, and your moral compass. Even more disquieting is the fact you won’t have your pals from home holding your hair back when you hit pres a bit too hard, or adjusting your beer goggles.
Luckily for you however, one of the best social catalysts known to man (give you a clue, comes in a pack of four for £3.50 in New Zealand Wines) will be available in copious amounts to lubricate the edges of your rusty social skills. I can guarantee that in no time at all, you’ll be giving your flatmates inebriated teary hugs, feeling like you’ve known them a lot longer than you actually have. You’ll soon become used to their ubiquity, and hilarious attempts at mundane tasks whilst hungover.
As I’m sure you heard at open days until your ears bled, uni societies are another great way to expand the circle of acquaintances you’d rather not look in the eye after that messy night out in Revs. From Athletics to Veganism, societies truly epitomise the university experience, and there is nowhere else you can feel quite as safe from your academic commitments than in a Cheese and Wine society social. If nothing else, they’re a great excuse to get out of halls when it’s your turn to do the washing up.
It’s easy to forget whilst on your booze-fuelled freshers antics that the oak doors of academia will soon swing open and hit you square in the face.
And whilst it’s true that the first year of many courses count for little if anything at all, that’s not to say most students don’t find the work stressful at some point, since learning is self-directed. In lay terms, are you really motivated enough to be making notes on the structure of a fucking mitochondrion whilst jager bombs are 90p in 42s? Oh, really? Please enlighten me.
If you are one of those truly commendable students who wish for nothing more than a good grade, then do take solace in the fact that you won’t be the only one feeling shitty when you get your first assignment back. Difference is, that middle-of-the-road grade is a mere blip on an otherwise uninterrupted upward trajectory for you, whilst for the rest of us, those marks start looking less like a low point, and more like an average.
For those less worried about their academic endeavours in first year, good news is, you can get away with doing the absolute minimum (just look around you when the lecturer says the module pass mark is 40%, and savour the moment) and fuck it, why not? After all boys and gals, actually turning up to a 9am means the midday pint of Fosters in ‘spoons will only taste sweeter.
Social pressure to have The Most Amazing Freshers’ Week Ever is often palpable in university halls and the cliché is arguably at its most prominent on social media.
It’s natural to feel a twinge of jealousy at a snapchat from a schoolfriend who is cross-eyed in Tiger Tiger and having “such a good time with all my new best mates lol”, whilst the pinnacle of your night out was the cheesy chips with extra mayo.
So let me reassure you that chances are, you’ll have a great freshers’ week, filled with intellectual debate ("do you call it a bap or a roll?"), hazy memories, and more 2-4-1 promotional leaflets than you could hope to read in a lifetime. All of which, of course, you will be meticulously posting on social media. Integrity, eh?
However, if this is not the case then don’t worry. I found that the memorable nights out (or quite the opposite) are achieved later on in the semester, simply as a natural consequence of venturing further than Factory, and expanding your friendship group to encompass more than your flatmates.
And anyway, did Susan and her blurry club snaps get 78 likes for being the Most Improved Fresher on the Ultimate Frisbee team? Thought not.