Debunking Generic Freshers Advice: What You ACTUALLY Need to Know For Your First Year at University
Dear reader, I know what you’re going through. You’ve gotten your results and you’re going to uni. First and foremost, congratulations! Now that’s out of the way: get ready for the barrage of bullshit coming your way in the form of #relateable Buzzfeed articles, propaganda videos from your institution, and student Wordpress articles about the enigma that is ‘freshers’. Some of it may be useful, but ultimately a lot of these sources just repeat the same hopelessly optimistic drivel. I recognise it’s somewhat hypocrticial for me to throw in my two cents, but I don’t want you to make the same mistake that I did: buying into this crock of shit.
THEY SAY: Make sure you hang out loads with your new flatmates, so you all become the best of friends!
I SAY: You may or may not be blessed with amazing flatmates. Act accordingly.
When you move into your student flat, there’s this uncomfortable pressure for everyone to get along. Maybe it’s the abundance of Facebook photos featuring grinning alumni with their uni besties. Maybe it’s your friend’s Snapchat story documenting every single night with their amazing new flatmates, featuring cheek-to-cheek selfies from the first night of freshers. Maybe it’s because it would be reeeeally convenient if you could all just find a place to move in together next year as well. Whatever it is, everyone is expected to be glued to the hip and to love each other to death.
Well, that might not happen for you. If you move in and it’s clear none of you have very much in common and genuinely don’t seem to get along after a few trips to the fresher’s fair together, don’t feel obligated to stick with them for the next three years. You’re far more likely to find friends you have things in common with in your lectures and seminars, so focus your energy on that.
THEY SAY: Freshers is soooo fun, make sure you go to all the events so you don’t miss out! Drink up!
I SAY: Freshers isn’t for everyone. Do whatever the fuck you want.
Yes, God forbid you should go against the status quo that all students love booze and partying. Some people prefer quiet night’s in. Some people don’t drink. Some people don’t buy into shit overpriced club nights with unknown DJs. If you meet these conditions, I recommend you DIY your own fresher’s week. Take the opportunity to explore the nooks and crannies of your new city, work out where the best place is to eat is on campus, attend a few casual mixers if you feel like it. Just don’t feel obligated to pay £18 to attend a shit foam party with only a full night of awkward groping to look forward to.
THEY SAY: Practice some easy meals at home before you leave for uni, so you know how to cook for yourself!
I SAY: You probably won’t do that. Instead, prepare to be experimental.
In a perfect world, we all would master how to cook perfect homemade meals from scratch before leaving the nest. Well, to be realistic, there’s a grand possibility that you won’t do this if you haven’t grown up in a cooking-centric home. What I would recommend instead is to be bold — if you find a weird recipe on Pinterest for making poached eggs in the microwave, get off your arse and try it! I mean, you might have a mighty mess to clean up (speaking from experience) but you’ll learn something every time.
THEY SAY: You’re going to need all this cooking stuff, a hand vacuum, an alarm clock, an iron, an ironing board, a rug and this small list of one hundred other items!
I SAY: NO. NO NO NO. PUT DOWN THE ARGOS CATALOGUE, YOU SADIST.
Oh my God. If you value your sanity, do not listen to any of these ‘uni checklist’ infographics that pop up every September. I don’t care if they used a nice font. Instead, get a piece of paper and write down the things you own that you genuinely couldn’t live without. If you haven’t used it in the last six months, don’t take it with you. Then make a list of the things you need to buy, which you will be purchasing from the nearest Pound Shop. Keep it to an absolute minimum and I promise you’ll want to kiss my feet when it’s time to move out.
THEY SAY: You should set yourself a weekly budget so you don’t overspend!
I SAY: Ha. Hahahahahaha. Hahaaaaaaahaaaa.
Yeah, good luck with that. Just be realistic with the amount of money you have, treat the word Waitrose like leprosy and stop buying so much take out. Drawing up a spending plan is just going to make you feel depressed when you realise you only have £20 to last the rest of the month. Oh, sorry, I meant £2 — maybe you’ll find some loose change on the floor at that foam party, you cretin.
THEY SAY: Make sure you don’t procrastinate so you can get all your work in early!
I SAY: You WILL ugly cry over an essay that’s barely written and due tomorrow. Power through.
Yeah, good luck with that one too. Unless you’re some sort of studying super human (we all know one), you’re going to procrastinate to some degree. My personal downfall is being too relaxed at the start of each semester and then fantasising about time travelling to punch my past self in the throat for being so stupid. Learn from your inevitable mistakes. For example, do not pull an all nighter whilst drinking cheap Co-Op energy drinks because you will get heart palpitations and see the terrifying face of God.
Here’s a few other bits and pieces that I feel you’ll need to know that didn’t really deserve their own sarky paragraph:
- You’ll probably set off the fire alarm. It’s okay, I forgive you. Your flatmates might not though.
- Don’t buy any stationary that doesn’t fit comfortably in your bag of choice. That means A5 notebooks instead of A4.
- Get an NUS card if you haven’t already because they pay themselves off very quickly.
- Get Amazon Student Prime. If you forget to cancel the free trial, Amazon’s help team will forgive you. I might not though.
- Skype will be your best friend when you miss various important people in your life.
- You can recycle all the club and takeaway flyers shoved through your front door/letterbox/slightly ajar window by making them into hideous paper chains at Christmas.
- Assume that tickle in your throat is actually black lung — try to book your doctor’s appointments on campus as far in advance as possible.
- In all seriousness, you will be fine. Enjoy yourself whenever possible.
Written by Gaby Smith. You can find more of my blog posts on my profile. I plan to prattle on about other things that annoy me until I’m dead in the ground.