Starting life at university must sound very exciting for you right now. As someone who has gone through this experience two years ago and is about to embark on his final year at Bristol, I cannot stress enough how much I envy you all. However, this is also a good opportunity to share my personal experience and tell you all the ups and downs of being a fresher.
Settling in and meeting new people
The Freshers’ Week (and the month after) is all about settling in and finding your own place. The truth is, this can be overwhelming, especially for those who have never lived away from home. You will meet so many people that you will soon learn to automatically chuck out questions like: “What’s your name?”, “Where are you from?”, “What course are you doing?” and “How are you enjoying Freshers?” You will never see many of these faces again during the next three years, but equally, some friendships made during this time can last a lifetime. Soon you will get the grip of university life and will not want to go back again.
Now, Freshers will not be what it is without the massive amount of partying and alcohol consumption (you surely have heard about the Fresher’s Flu). I remember there was something going on every night during my Freshers’ Week, be it a pub crawl, a comedy night or just a club night. It is all great because you feel you have finally broken away from your family and are free to do whatever you feel like. Nevertheless, there is a downside to this: excessive clubbing and drinking will hurt your financial situation throughout the year. My advice is to be sensible here; you probably don’t want to overload yourself so that the pleasure can be spread throughout the year.
Attending lectures will be exciting at the beginning, but amidst your hectic life as a fresher, you will find yourself missing a few very soon. Doing work didn’t even cross my mind until tutorials started to kick in. Another thing to watch out for is your city’s students’ nights. The students’ nights at Bristol were annoyingly on Mondays, which mean I tended not to be very productive during busy Tuesdays. Some of you may think that studying during the first year doesn’t really matter as you only need to pass, but let me reassure you that the foundation you build during the first year will massively help subsequent years. Furthermore, getting good results in the first year is essential for internship applications in the second year. So while you are having fun, don’t forget about your long-term prospect and the main reason you came to university.
The new start is also the biggest opportunity for you to discover yourself, find new hobbies and get involved in different societies. It is also good if you want to diversify your friends circle (at the end of the day, you will be fed up with talking about your modules). The advice here is again to be cautious. Most societies will charge you a membership fee (even those that don’t will end up spamming you with their weekly emails). Join societies you are truly interested in and think you will be able to commit to for the whole three years.
All in all, being a fresher is an amazing experience. Make sure you make the most out of it.
Economics Network Student Placement Project Officer 2010-2011