Dear Michelle… Fresher Special

The one and only MICHELLE DANDO is here to give her advice for all those anxious freshers. Read on for tales of booze, sex and pets.

After a wonderful summer sunning myself in the Bahamas, I’m back to solve all of your lifestyle worries and relationship worries and this time I’m focussing my first issue of the year on the darling freshers.

Is my Long Distance Relationship Doomed?

Dear Michelle, I’ve just started uni in Southampton and I don’t think my relationship with my girlfriend is going to last. She’s gone to Leeds Uni and it’s quite far away. I’ve been getting close to one of my female flatmates and we’ve been flirting quite a lot and in Oceana during freshers’ week we kissed on the dancefloor. I’m worried I could end up doing more with my flatmate and cheating on my girlfriend further. I’ve been with my girlfriend for 2 years now and we both want to continue our relationship. But living with an attractive girl who I get on really well with, I’m worried I might cheat on my girlfriend again. What do I do?


Hi James, being a fresher is such an amazing time! But sadly it can also be quite difficult, as your life changes completely so there are a lot of adjustments to be made. At home, in the cosy atmosphere in school in your hometown, your relationship with your girlfriend was comfortable and well established. Now you’re facing a challenge to your relationship where your lifestyle is changing completely – it’s make or break point, and a lot of people find it difficult to make the most of their new life at university while staying committed to someone from their life before (especially if you’re hot – I know the feeling). Would your girlfriend be heartbroken if she found out, or would she forgive you and stay with you? Either way, you should really tell her – I know that the problems caused by such a big revelation will be amplified 10x by the distance between you, but to not tell her would be disrespectful of both her and of your relationship.

AU Initiation Issues

Dear Michelle, I’m a keen hockey player and used to play for a club back home and for my school. I really want to join the University hockey team but I’m scared I won’t be able to keep up with the drinking. I’m a bit of a lightweight and I don’t want my team mates terrorising me because of it. I’ve heard lots of rumours from students in older years about socials and drinking but I really don’t want to give up something I enjoy doing because I can’t handle my drink. Help me Michelle!


Hi Andy, It’s great that you’ve got a hobby you want to carry on here in Southampton! Despite the image often portrayed to other students, most AU clubs are not primarily focused on drink. As I’m sure you are aware, sport can be extremely competitive and excessive drinking actually counteracts all the training that you do. In this way, even though any gathering of meaty lads is bound to end in some alcohol-induced atrocieties, people who choose not to wreck their bodies are ‘accepted’, if you like, within sports clubs. Therefore you don’t need to worry about it if you don’t want to drink: instead of being peer pressured and terrorised, you should be respected for caring about playing hockey more than getting annihilated every Wednesday night – it is hockey that brings the club together, after all. Furthermore things are actually easier at the start of the year: at Southampton Uni, unlike most universities, initiations are banned for safety reasons. Instead, a lot of clubs have a ‘3 legged social’, in which every fresher is tied to someone from the club, the focus being placed on getting to know people rather than getting drunk.

Precious Pet Problems

Dear Michelle, I’ve just come to uni in Southampton but I really miss my cat. I thought I’d be able to make it past freshers week without having to see him on Skype but I just miss the moggy. What can I do?


Hi Abbey, pets are one of the things freshers miss the most. Bringing your precious pooch or cute kitty is pretty much out of the question, even the most incompetent halls cleaner will eventually spot evidence of your pet amongst the general detritus that accumulates in a fresher’s kitchen. Have you thought about downsizing to a more concealable pet, like a goldfish, hamster or rock? All of these can be easily hidden under a bed or desk when it’s time for your dreaded room inspection! If you really can’t go without a fuzzy companion, why not try moving in to the Students’ Union and following around their resident pet cat, SUSU. She’s been a steadfast surrogate to thousands of cuddle-deprived freshers over the years.

*names changed by request.

So that’s my advice for all you innocent young freshers. If you’ve got any academic anguishes or relationship worries then email [email protected] and the editors will pass it on to me.