Life Lessons: Being a Fresher

If you’re fresh meat, this article is the perfect marinade for you… (or something).

Congratulations for getting a place at Southampton Uni! It’s pretty decent but the town’s horrible. Anyway, none of that matters- are you ready for the most fun, confusing and action packed few weeks of your life so far? Of course you are, now you’ve all got your results I’m sure you’re running non stop around your provincial home towns, shaking with excitement at the thought of finally being free of your parents. Here at the Soton Tab we want to see you freshers ‘aving it as large as possible so we’ve devised this revoltingly cute acrostic thing to point you in the right direction. See what it spells? It took me at least five minutes to think of this concept so you better appreciate it.

Not quite how I remember getting my first loan…

S is for Student Loan. Every term once you have had the traditional phone argument with the lovely people at the Direct Gov a substantial sum of free money is dumped into your bank account. It’s like passing GO on the Monopoly board and getting the birthday Chance Card SIMULTANEOUSLY. OK, I know in theory it has to be paid back eventually, but as none of us are going to have jobs after we graduate we probably won’t ever earn over £16,000 a year so you might as well blow it spectacularly. Personally to celebrate my final year I’m thinking of buying a go-kart to drive around town in, Mr. Toad fashion.

O is for “Fuck it, Only 40%”. As a fresher this should be the philosophy that is perpetually at the forefront of your alcohol soaked mind. It should be the first thing you think of when making any decision. It should be so deeply embedded in your soul that an X-ray would show it carved on your bones. You will seriously regret working too hard (i.e. doing any at all) after you move into second year and stuff actually starts to count, trust. SO MAKE THE MOST OF IT.

U is for Unprotected Sex. If you’re planning on being promiscuous (and there’s nothing wrong with having some fun), I have some words for you: knob-rot, blue waffle, nine-month time bomb, fanny rash, the clap, yeast infection, cottage cheese, genital warts etc, etc. Shag whoever you want but don’t be stupid, safety first or else you’ll get burnt and end up in a biology textbook.

The Bunfight. All these people are hungover

T is for The Bunfight. One of the busier days during Fresher’s Week, The Bunfight is all about going and checking out the various societies and sports teams on offer at Southampton, and then promptly forgetting about them until second year when you realise that your CV needs pimping. The people manning the stands will do literally anything for your contact details so feel free to exploit this, but be cautious because months afterwards you will still be receiving depressingly upbeat committee emails. Leave me alone, it’s raining and I’m hungover.

H is for Housing Drama. Towards the end of the Autumn term (if you’re really organised) or more usually after the January exams you will start to look for houses for next year. This will involve a great deal of manipulation, bitching and general scheming until you end up with a situation that nobody is happy with but everybody will pretend to be enthusiastic about. It’s likely that you will have been so desperate to stay with your flat that ten of you will have put a £7000 deposit on a shipping container in Waitrose car park. Cosy!

A is for A Level Results. Nobody cares, so shut your mouth. Edexcel and AQA hand out A grades at the same rate that Jesters sells doubles- it wasn’t like that in my day, I’m telling you. Anyway, you might have come top of your year at school but in this pond there are always bigger academic fish so stop bragging, get over yourself and accept your fate in the high 2.2/low 2.1 crowd like most other people.

M is for Manzils. This is going to sound like free advertising. It’s an Indian restaurant just beyond Jesters. There are actually two of them, the old boy explained why to me once but I had over indulged earlier so my brain couldn’t quite process his story. Anyway, though one is allegedly better than the other (I can never remember which) they both serve very eatable rice and curry until the small hours. It’s an experience remarkably like being in a zoo at feeding time and I can’t recommend it enough.

A typical Portswood kitchen

P is for Portswood. This is the bit of Southampton south of Highfield where most second and third years can be found occupying moldy squats. There aren’t any halls here so it might take you a little while to discover this magical place but once you’ve realised what it offers you will probably think that you’ve been run over by the U6 bus and gone to grotty student heaven. I know at least 45% of you put S-town as your first choice solely because of Jesters nightclub– well, this sordid lair is waiting for you at the bottom of the high street (which I like to call the “brown mile” because it’s paved with vomit and kebab meat). I could wax lyrical about Portswood all day, but really for full impact you have to experience it yourself.

T is for Ten Minute Friends. Here’s the good news: all that stuff you’ve heard about everyone being really friendly and welcoming during Fresher’s Week is true. You will meet hordes of new people and many will be lovely (a lot will also be complete idiots). Sadly though, the best friend relationship you had with someone for the whole of day three will probably not last, and a few weeks later your sole interaction with them will be the standard nod ‘n’ grunt when you see each other on campus (if you are drunk you may briefly rekindle things). This won’t stop you from continuing to stalk them on Facebook though, of course.

O is for Other Years. As a general rule second years are full of themselves and think that they’re hot shit, now that they aren’t fresh meat and have their own houses and whatnot. They will be the ones slurring ‘hilarious’ anecdotes of the ‘I guess you had to be there’ variety and acting like they’ve just served three tours of Iraq when you’ve just arrived at boot camp. In contrast to this sickly self confidence, third years are almost always on the point of a nervous breakdown because of their workload and the constant fear that following graduation their lives will be utterly meaningless (they will be). Post-grads remain an enigma but the few I’ve met have come full circle and gone back to not giving a crap again which is heartening, though doubtless the majority are actually shackled to desks in some hidden section of the library.

MySUSU or is it YourSUSU? I don’t bloody know

N is for UNion. (Now that was tenuous). In case you don’t know our one is the snappily titled SUSU, or as I believe they like to be referred to now ‘Your SUSU’. Like all student unions the members spend a lot of time very SERIOUSLY deliberating over various arguments and then eventually coming to no decision whatsoever. However, in between the (pointless?) debates they put on some pretty decent events, and like it or not the union is an important part of university life. Is it worth getting involved? I don’t know, I imagine it’s an even split between being extremely rewarding and highly frustrating so you’ll have to decide for yourself.

And it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t include our own shameless promotional spiel, seeing as everyone else will be shouting about their club/society/secret organization in Freshers’ Week. If you have an opinion about ANYTHING and can string a sentence together get in contact. Perhaps you thought this article was a load of self-indulgent shite? After re-reading it I’m tempted to agree, but don’t just moan in the comments- give us a shout and write something better. We get more hits than those twee boys and girls over at the SUSU run Wessex Scene do, so get on board by ‘liking’ our page on Facebook and following us on Twitter @SotonTab. For more information click here