Free food and accents: The three lessons I learned at York Freshers’ Fair

If it’s not for the stalls and free food, go for the learning experience

Freshers’ Fair 2021 was distinctly a day of rain. However, despite the weather, my flatmates and I trekked to Campus West to check out the free Dominos, and of course, York’s societies. After seeing about two stalls, my flatmates, free pizza slice in hand, decided to head back to the flat. 

But determined to see exactly what York had to offer, I finished my tour solo which led to some interesting interactions throughout the day. With York Freshers’ Fair coming up on Saturday, here are the three lessons I learned at Freshers’ Fair: 

1. Don’t ask where someone is from if you can’t pinpoint their accent

When the weather’s bad, every Brit HAS to comment on the weather. This small talk led me to chat with two students who were also studying English. I recognised a northern accent like my own in one of them, a rare find at university in York, so I asked where they were from. They told me to guess so “the north” I replied, but they pressed me to guess more precisely, telling me they were from “around here”.  I listed all the Yorkshire places I had visited, which, by no coincidence at all, had very good ice-cream parlours (get yourself to Ripley Ice cream ASAP).

Each wrong guess unimpressed them, so I surrendered when it turned out they were from Sheffield. Clearly, great offence was taken by the fact I had not visited God’s own country, as the immediate snapback was “so, where are you from, London?!”. This was fairly amusing to me as a Geordie.

When explaining I wasn’t in fact Southern, tumbleweed blew across the Roger Kirk Centre. So with that, I headed off. Fearful of causing offence, I would suggest NOT asking where people you briefly meet at Freshers’ Fair are from. If you can figure out if they’re Northern or Southern, leave it at that. Curiosity killed the cat, and it also killed any chance of me befriending another Sheffielder. Sad Times. 

2. Don’t give every society your email

A friendly face should never be taken for granted, especially in Freshers’ Week. But Freshers’ Fair is one exception. At Freshers’ Fair, a keen second-year with a smile and free stuff has the power to pull any fresher over to any stall. They start by offering you a free pen or food and before you know it, you’ve signed up to their mailing list and first taster session, and signed your soul away. 

I get hundreds of emails to my university account, many of which are important timetable updates or the latest internships, but frequently I also get bombarded by society emails which I have no desire to partake in. Please, I don’t have time to watch Pride and Prejudice (for the 76th time) at the Jane Austen society film night. Obviously, you can unsubscribe to such spam, but just save yourself a job and the FOMO, and don’t do it. 

Don’t get me wrong, joining a society is great, and I would urge you to try something new. I can honestly say I have met some of my best mates in the societies I decided to join at Freshers’ Fair, but just don’t get sucked into societies you have no interest in actually getting involved in. 

3. Make friends anywhere, including bus stops

After signing up to over 23 societies, I called it a day. With the rain still pouring, I managed to take cover under the library bus shelter. The buses were not on time, something that would become oh so familiar, and I could see two lads just outside the shelter getting soaked.

Safe under cover, I took pity and offered to share the shelter with them. I assured them that I didn’t bite, and we continued our conversations on the bus back to East campus. To this day, I’m good friends with them both and who would have thought we would have met at the library bus stop during Freshers’ Week. So make sure you chat to anyone, you don’t know where it could lead. 

Make sure you check out York’s Freshers’ Fair on Saturday (come and say hello to us!) and remember to not ask ANYONE where they are from if their accents aren’t giving it away immediately. 

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