What your Sheffield Intro Week brochure should be telling you
Let’s be honest, you don’t see that many students having a picnic on the grass
New students are inundated with pamphlets, brochures and handbooks about student life. Everybody pictured has those fake grins plastered on their faces, usually while reading a book or laughing and joking with a lecturer who hasn't genuinely smiled in eight years.
These pamphlets almost always neglect to say what you really need to know because the truth is horrifying, but you need to hear what they won't tell you.
If you've already looked at the brochure, you'll have read over and over that Freshers' Week (or 'Intro Week' as the academics prefer to call it) is filled with a variety of activities, registration processes and module meetings, and not just a week-long drinking frenzy.
The initial induction session you attend is like the first act of The Hunger Games: you're surrounded by weary-eyed students, some familiar, most not, in a crowded auditorium. A university representative will talk fondly of the amazing experiences ahead of you – but there'll be no mention of the fight to the death to secure one of the three graduate jobs outside London. Remember to attend the 'Give it a Go: Archery' sessions if you're serious about winning that fight.
The speakers will also talk about all the great friendships and networks you'll form, and this is important: at the start of every Hunger Games style event, you need to find friends and clique up. Sure, you can be the lone psychopath who provides a permanent sense of tension – but that's a really odd way to approach Freshers' Week.
Your newfound friends will support you through all that's ahead.
Not all tiny, overpriced hovels are in London.
In any other context, being made to live in a student hall flat would be a terrible punishment. But here it's normal to live in a room that looks like a Norwegian prison cell.
The hallway will have a strange aroma to it, like those museums that try to recreate the smell of a First World War trench or a Viking longship.
Your kitchen sink will be wrecked by week three, with the plughole being blocked by your flatmate's long-expired pasta bake scrapings. You will spend a tedious twenty minutes attempting to clean up. Eventually, every regrettable drunk takeaway, out of date microwave dish and overstuffed bin bag will create an eye-wateringly rancid atmosphere.
Money will therefore be spent eating out and the kitchen will be forsaken.
If you're prepared to stave off the inevitable, devise a kitchen cleaning rota with specific chores. I know people are rolling their eyes, having already clocked the one person who will 'forget' every week, but give it a try. Just because they only eat takeaways and display a large bong amongst their personal belongings doesn't mean they don't care deeply about kitchen hygiene.
Your own room is something you needn't rely on anybody else to keep clean (or at least accessible). Don't hoard stuff. If you're one of those types who want souvenirs from every single themed club night of the year, try and show restraint. A garland necklace that smells faintly of vomit isn't worth keeping.
People during Freshers' will drink too much and then tearfully confess all their worries. Throughout the week, club smoking areas sound like dozens of late-morning tabloid talk shows all playing simultaneously. Nod and look sympathetic while freshers talk about relationships, doubts about their choice of course, and thoughts about dropping out because they miss their pets.
When you go back inside, club photographers will take embarrassing pictures of you and use them in their publicity. You should learn to duck and dodge through crowds like you're being pursued through a James Bond movie. Eventually you'll become tired and lose focus – and then they'll get you anyway.
In a bleak future where every graduate works in some soulless administrative job for a cryogenically frozen Richard Branson, your intrusive supervisor will find the photos and fire you.
Consider changing your Facebook timeline settings to stop people from tagging you in horrendous photos that could endanger your chance of getting an elusive not-in-London graduate job.
The most coveted of fresher freebies is the Domino's discount pizza voucher. Presumably intelligent students happily stand in the cold for an hour to acquire a pizza the size of a large coin.
The enormous queue for these Margherita coins is a wonder to behold, weaving majestically around the shattered glass and spilt takeaway that characterise West Street terrain. Drifting alcoholics will give members of the queue unsolicited advice about pizza toppings.
Grab any free pens and stationary you can too, as this will stop the extortionists at Staples from taking what should be your drinking money.
Exercise & sports
Neither walks from halls to university nor sleep deprivation count as proper exercise. But it's fine, because Sheffield has great sporting facilities you will one day briefly think about using.
It's tradition for university sports reps to pledge to get more non-sporty people into sport – a terrifying prospect for those of us who avoid parks because a football might accidentally be kicked in our direction.
If you don't want your arteries to wheeze in terror every time you have to make the hilly walk to and from campus, attending Sport Sheffield is still worthwhile. Alternatively, trudging around the Information Commons in search of study spaces is a serviceable substitute to the treadmill.
For those serious about sport, Sheffield Varsity lets students of Hallam and Sheffield University compete against one another to prove who's the best at kicking, throwing, lifting and catching things. If you don't like competing, you can sit in the audience, guzzling junk food and yelling about how much more athletic your university is than the opposition's.
Some society reps can be spotted attempting some early recruiting before the annual clusterfuck that is the Activities Fair.
This fair features literally hundreds of different societies. It's a great opportunity if you're bored of your flatmates and want to find people with similar interests. Attend the first meetings, even if you're pathetically hungover, so you can get to know other members at a similar pace.
You'll consider joining a political society and fighting the good fight, but then you'll decide that posting Corbyn memes on Facebook is activism enough.
If you're willing to endure the early awkward moments and shy introductions then societies can be really rewarding. Ignore that nagging feeling of 'can I even be bothered?' and try showing up to a few.
First year doesn't count
A coursemate will approach you within the first couple of days to tell you that "first year doesn't count", usually preceding an offer to consume inordinate quantities of VKs. But can you be sure this coursemate isn't an admissions tutor in elaborate costume? Exactly. Try and attend enough lectures to at least pass first year.