Feeling anxious about starting university? Don’t fret – we’ve compiled a handy guide to help ease the transition to uni life
Congratulations: you got into uni, and now Freshers’ week is here. All your shiny new IKEA plates and pans have been boxed up and shunted into the boot of your dad’s car and your mum is already getting tearful at the thought of you leaving home. Soon you’ll be dropped off in the middle of a brand new city, ready to embark on a week of – presumably – drinking, shagging, and doing loads of drugs.
Except, you realise, you haven’t actually done drugs before and you’re not sure if you even want to try a ketamine at all. You’ve also only had sex twice and you’re a bit worried about getting chlamydia. Plus, there’s a small but insistent part of your brain which can’t help but wonder: what if I literally make no friends?
But don’t worry. Everyone else is in the same boat, and we’ve compiled this handy Freshers’ survival guide to help ease you into university life.
DO NOT FALL IN LOVE WITH THE FIRST MAN WHO IS NICE TO YOU
I understand. You spent the whole of sixth form being treated like shit by boys: the popular group dubbed you ‘Spots’ after you had a brief acne flare-up and Jack in the year above ghosted you after you lost your virginity to him. So, yes, when the attractive guy from your lecture offers to make you a carbonara (using an egg, too), claims to love bell hooks’ work, and actually knows what a clit is, it makes sense that you would fall head over heels in love.
Sadly, it’s a trap. Chances are he’s probably worse than anyone from your school. He’ll do something like drop the L bomb but then say “well, we never said we were exclusive!” when you catch him on a date with another girl a week later. He will break your heart into a million pieces before the first term is even over. Be discerning. Run a mile.
DON’T BE A DICK TO ANYONE YOU HAVE CASUAL SEX WITH
Strangely, you can still be nice towards someone even if you’re only sleeping with them casually. You don’t have to kick them out of your house and ghost them immediately after you’ve shagged – you can make them a cup of tea and actually acknowledge their existence when you bump into them on campus.
Also: use protection and get tested regularly, obvs. You should be able to find your nearest sexual health clinic on Google and there are also lots of legit STI tests available to order for free online.
DON’T SLEEP WITH YOUR FLATMATE
This is pretty cliché advice, but it’s cliché for a reason. Don’t do it, unless you want to obliterate any semblance of good vibes in your flat for the entire year.
DO NOT BUY A FRESHERS’ WRISTBAND
You won’t go to a single event – or if you do, it’ll be shit. Don’t waste £30 before you’ve even arrived.
Freshers’ week is all about going with the flow; you’re much better off deciding what to do and where to go out once you get there. You don’t want to be the awkward flatmate trying to convince everyone to go to the ‘Freshers’ Zoo Party’ at a club on the other side of town called ‘Space’, when they all just want to have a chilled night in the pub.
DON’T PRETEND YOU KNOW HOW TO TAKE DRUGS
Everyone is 18, and by that age most people haven’t really really taken drugs before (weed or a tentative nibble on a pill at Leeds Festival doesn’t count), so don’t pretend you know what you’re talking about. Asking “I’ve not taken ket before, actually, how much should I take?” is much less embarrassing than acting like you know what you’re doing, snorting half a gram, and vomiting all over your new shoes. You will feel like you’re dying and your flatmate will be pissed that they had to spend their night sitting with you in the medical tent when they spent £20 on tickets to see Becky Hill at the students’ union. Don’t do it!
You can also see if your uni has a drug testing service on offer, and follow organisations like The Loop on social media for helpful harm reduction advice.
Also, loads of people at uni don’t do drugs too, and nobody cares if you’d rather not partake – so try not to feel pressured into it.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO OUT EVERY NIGHT
On the one hand, you will never be as young and energetic as you are right now and you probably should resist the urge to stay in bed 24/7, spaffing your entire student loan on Uber Eats.
On the other hand, you don’t have to force yourself to go to some crappy foam party if you’re running on three hours sleep – have a night off to watch Netflix and allow yourself some time to recalibrate.
‘Societies’ might sound like they’re for nerds, but if you want a decent social life then you’re going have to join societies, I’m afraid.
Take a look at what’s on offer and see what catches your eye – maybe you’re an aspiring writer, in which case you could get involved with the student paper, or if you’re a budding designer you could scope out the fashion society.
Most courses have their own society too, if you’re not quite sure where to begin. And don’t worry, the ‘chemistry society’ won’t actually sit around jacking off over the periodic table – they’ll do normal socials, like pub quizzes and bar crawls.
Initially, it can be a little scary to turn up to society events on your own, but put your pride aside and remember that everyone is in exactly the same position as you and just wants to make friends.
BRING A PAIR OF FLIP-FLOPS OR SLIDERS
Mummy and Daddy may have a Roomba at home but you’ll be lucky if your flat even comes with a dustpan and brush. The floor in your communal kitchen is going to become biohazardous very quickly and you will not want to be walking around barefoot or even in just socks.
EAT SOME VEGETABLES
You are going to get ill in Freshers’ week, and if you never consume anything containing vitamins then you are going to have a runny nose all term and feel self-conscious about sniffing in lectures every ten seconds. At least buy some easy peeler satsumas.
IT’S OK TO FEEL OVERWHELMED
Freshers’ week is pretty action-packed, but there will probably be chunks of time where you find yourself alone in your room, feeling a little lost. You’ll open up your phone and see your sixth form bestie has posted a photo on Instagram with their new, cool-looking coursemate, your flatmates have gone to Spoons without you and your mum has sent you a picture of your dog and suddenly you feel like having a little cry because everything is so overwhelming right now.
It’s perfectly normal to feel exhausted or homesick during Freshers’ week, especially if you’ve moved far away from your family and friends. Call your mum – she’ll appreciate it and you’ll feel better.