From napping to McDonald’s at 3am: A day in the life of a first year Notts student

The standard silly fresher

Let me take you with me on a journey through my day as a first year student in Nottingham, trying to make sense of how to balance  lectures, seminars, independent living, socialising, cooking, cleaning, exercising and most importantly, clubbing. I’ve recently come to terms with the fact that balancing all of these in one day as a student is simply not possible, so for now enjoy this random chain of events which serve as a fairly good summary for an average day as a clueless first year, who hasn’t yet been hit by the shock of actual uni work and essays which will arrive in the near future.

And, if you’re reading this in second or third year, I hope this day in the life gives you wonderful flashbacks of when you first started at uni, and reminds you of how chaotic your Freshers’ Week was – I’ll try not to make you too jealous now that you’re swamped with actual uni work and coming to terms with becoming an adult with actual responsibilities. The first year experience is definitely a bizarre one, here you are with people you’ve only known for a few weeks and you’re all running drunk through the Nottingham city centre with a stolen traffic cone at 4am to “decorate” the flat. We’ll calm down in second year, or so we tell ourselves.


Morning everyone. Unless they’ve got a 9am, you best believe most students won’t be getting out of bed until around 10 or 11 – a lot later if suffering from a hangover, because sleep is the most important thing on everyone’s schedules. As a first year living in self-catered halls, the first thing on my mind is what I’ll be having for breakfast, so I head into the kitchen and whip up something quick and easy. Today’s choice, strawberry yoghurt with granola and fruit, normally accompanied by a latte or an iced coffee; I know, basic, but you can’t beat it – plus, its budget-friendly.


After I’m fuelled for the morning and had a catch up with my flatmates, I’ll make a half-hearted effort to clean my room, throw a last-minute outfit on, pack my bag and head onto campus for my lecture, obviously listening to one of my favourite playlists to get me through the day. I’ll normally spot one of my friends on my course along the way, so we walk together but – disaster strikes as we trudge through the rain and puddles when she trips and gets her whole leg soaking wet and completely ruins her white Converse. We stand there, bewildered, and take a moment of silence for the fallen shoe and the soggy jeans, they will be missed. We awkwardly rush in and find a spot near the back of the lecture hall, taking notes on our laptops while the lecturer rushes through 40 slides in less than an hour. After all that exhaustion, we’ll head to Portland Coffee to treat ourselves to their amazing chicken, bacon and mozzarella ciabatta while we let our brains cool off.


Time to actually get our heads in the zone and do some prep work for seminars later on in the week so we don’t end up trying to get it done in a rush the night before. So, I’ll meet up with a few friends off-campus and head to a little cafe in Beeston together to do some reading tasks we’ve been set (but we’ll always end up gossiping and ordering food instead of reading, oops). I’ll try to read as much as I can before my head rolls off and take notes on my laptop as I go, to try and make what I’ve read more memorable for my seminars.


To break the day up a bit, I head to the gym for an hour or so to fit some exercise into my day. Sometimes it can be a struggle to find the motivation to get up and go, but once you’re there you’ll be thankful you did – it’s one of the best ways to relieve stress and feel better about yourself, physically and mentally. It can be a lot easier bringing a friend with you or putting your earphones in and listening to up-beat music to help motivate you. Plus, it gives you an excuse to wear some nice gym sets (although I still do this on days that I don’t even go the gym anyway). Once I’ve got that out of the way, I head back to my flat to freshen up and start to make my way to my seminar.

After contributing some absolute waffle and partaking in some awkward group discussions filled with long silences in the seminar classroom, I decide it’s a good idea to get the tram into the city centre with my friends and indulge my shopping addiction. This is the part where we get approached by a random man in suspenders next to the tram stop carrying a big box of leaflets all about Jesus, singing hymns to us and telling us Jesus will save us. We run away into Zara, then make visits to H&M, Primark and Urban Outfitters near the Victoria Centre ‘just to have a look’, and end up walking out with multiple shopping bags and bank accounts that hate us. We tell ourselves it’s okay, we deserve a treat after working so hard today – but is it even a treat anymore if this is happening on a weekly basis? I’ll let someone else decide on that one.


By now, it’s around 5pm so after browsing practically every shop in Nottingham we hop on the tram back to our accommodation and let the napping commence. A well-deserved nap is just what every student needs, and having some alone time is relaxing so I put on Netflix and re-watch Gossip Girl for about the hundredth time, and as soon as I get into bed the obnoxiously loud fire alarm goes off and everyone in the block of flats has to stand outside in the rain until it turns off (this hell lasted for 15 minutes). Grumpy, tired and hungry, the herd of students begin to make their way back into their flats when the awful beeping finally stops. And now, for the main event – time to cook up a storm in the messy kitchen.

What’s my go to? Pasta, obviously – almost every student will tell you the same. I cook up the pasta and sauce, both bought for dirt cheap from Lidl because we’re on that student budget, while one of my flatmates tells me how he got kicked out of Rock City last night for throwing a chicken nugget at a security guard – gutted I missed out on seeing that. Voilà, dinner is served and it is heavenly; despite this being my third night in a row of having pasta, it still holds a special place in my heart. Gordon Ramsey would be proud, maybe I should go on Master Chef just to share my Lidl pasta with the world.

Now, there’s just one more chore we need to get out the way – sorting out the pre-drinks for the night out later at Unit 13, one of many student favourites. Time for a flat trip to the Co-op, only a five minute walk from our halls, proving to be very handy when we realise we forgot to buy alcohol. With a cheap bottle of £4 wine secured (a rare achievement when shopping in Co-op), we head back and start pre-gaming with drinking games that only last about 15 minutes before everyone gets battered and forgets the rules. Oh, the joys of being a student.


We’ve downed our wines, taken shots of who knows what, been over the same gossip three times, taken 100 photos, queued some classics on the speaker and now the Uber is outside. Everyone’s buzzing for Unit 13 and we’re talking way too loud at the poor Uber driver who just wants to drop us off and drive away as soon as humanly possible. We should be freezing to death as we all decided to leave our jackets because none of us can afford that small £2 for the cloakroom, but we’ve had more than enough alcohol to keep us warm.

There wasn’t enough time for pres in Spoons because we all took too long getting ready, so it’s straight into Unit we go, making a bee-line for the bar trying to spot a gap to order our double-vodka somethings. Then comes the mandatory girls trip to the toilet, where you’ll find mirrors on every wall and a DJ spinning her own tracks dancing with girls who don’t even want to go back out to the main room because the music in here is just too good. Back out we go and onto the dance floor, squeezing our way through the crowds and somehow spotting at least ten different people we know from uni, making friends with randoms who’s names we’ll forget and taking awful videos to look back on the next day.


Finally, once we’ve all completely worn ourselves out, hair and makeup all a mess, about three out of the group of ten having thrown their dinners up, stumbling out of the club, it’s only right to end the night with a maccies trip, and, as always, it seems like half the student population in Nottingham has the same idea. After we’ve got the chicken nugget meals secured, we find a seat upstairs and find people we saw inside the club and share the different stories of our own versions of the night. Then comes the delicious silence of the drunk happiness and joy the McNuggets have given us, and it’s in these moments that I am most grateful. As we split Ubers on the way back, we make drunken plans to debrief in the morning which is only a few hours away as it starts to get light.

Related articles recommended by this author:

• The seven types of people you’ll meet in Cripps Hall

• Everything that happens in a day in the life of a final year Notts Student

• If you wear any of these five items on UoN’s campus you need to sort it out