Seasoned third year, Vijay Hare, speaks all our minds as he gives the advice we wish we all had been given way back in freshers…and sets us up with some truths about the “ideal” first year.
1. Make the most of Fresher’s Fortnight – meet as many people as you can.
2. Don’t miss out on end of term tickets – especially Week 10 Pop!
3. Keep on top of your reading – you’ll be thankful for it during exam season.
4. Don’t mix business with pleasure – flatmates are never a good idea!
5. Work a little, play a little, each day.
6. Develop a routine – so you don’t get bored.
7. Keep healthy – avoid Freshers’ Flu.
8. Call home at least once a week.
9. Keep in touch with old friends.
10. And definitely make plenty of new ones.
I could go on, couldn’t I? Every well-meaning relative you ask, every pamphlet you take, and every clickbait article you open on the subject of “The Only Uni Advice You’ll Need”, or the optimistically-titled Buzzfeed article “53 Things I Wish I Could Tell My Fresher Self”, will bombard you with sound-bites like the ones I’ve posted above.
You’ve probably heard most of them before anyway, or variants of them. Heck, most of them probably occurred to you anyway before you even unzipped your suitcase to pack. Whether you choose to heed or flaunt any of them is entirely in your hands. That’s your prerogative. I’m not here to tell you what to do. This article isn’t meant to tell you what to do. The whole point of Uni, in my opinion, is to help you grow into a person who can survive – and thrive – as someone who can make those choices for themself.
And have as much fun as you can on the way!
Which brings me to the other thing I want to say. When I think back to my Fresher Year – which I can comfortably say wasn’t really the happiest time in my life – what I remember most keenly of all was trying to live up to my own hilariously unrealistic expectations of what my first year should be like. Trying to balance being as good as could be academically with being the coolest kid on campus socially, neither endeavour meeting with much success. And the fallout of all this? It made me unhappy. A constant feeling that I was squandering my potential. Missing out on what was, apparently, the best year of my life.
People who bang on about Fresher Year as “The Absolute Best Year Of Your Life” grind my gears, in the same vein as people who bang on about New Year’s Eve as “The Absolute Best Night Of The Year”. And why? Because it sets the bar so impossibly high for your own experiences. If that is your impression of Fresher Year, than chances are you’ll just feel underwhelmed, or, like I did, unhappy. In the same way that the people who go out on New Year’s Eve absolutely determined to have the best night of their life rarely do. They just wake up hungover, unfulfilled, and in the case of a good friend of mine, in the grassy middle of a busy Coventry Roundabout.
Any year of your life can be the best year of your life if you want it to. As for the key to enjoying your Fresher Year and keep it from all getting it to you? It’s to just give yourself a break.
So my one real piece of advice to you is the one piece of advice I wished someone had given me on the eve of my Fresherdom. One piece of advice that, alas, I never really had.
And it is this.
Let it be.
And have fun while you’re doing it.
You won’t have all the answers now, and that’s fine. You’ll make mistakes, and everyone else around you will as well. You may drink a bit too much, or work a bit too little. You may eat take-away more often than you should. You may put on your Fresher’s Fifteen. You may shag your flatmate and have an awkward couple of breakfasts afterwards.
But what I can say with certainty is that when the dust settles and you finally pack your suitcases at the end of June…
Everything will be just fine.
by Vijay Hare