Tips for Freshers' Week

The first rule of Freshers’ Week is that there are NO rules to Freshers’ Week. It’s a great opportunity for you to meet new people, make new friends and learn something new and get everything in order before you start your studying.

1. Prepare before you go

Before you arrive on campus, aim to read all of your university’s welcome emails and documents so you’ll have an idea of what to expect. It helps to know in advance all of the information and support available to you and where to find it.  For international students, a Welcome scheme and Orientation course will usually be offered, but you can check with your campus’ international student office to see what support is on hand.

2. Be open-minded!

Some of the best friendships are the most unlikely ones. For everyone beginning university, you are likely to find a mix of different personalities, cultures and interests. Embrace this. It may be one of the only times that you meet so many different people, so try and make as many friends as you can,that you may not have immediately thought of as your 'type'. They may become your best.

3. Arrive at halls as early as you can

Try to arrive at your halls of residence as early as you are able, as these can be when the strongest bonds are made. With so much going on over the next week and beyond, it’s also a good idea to get your stuff unpacked and settled in as quickly as possible so you’ll always have a pleasant base to come home to. If you are an international student, it helps if you allow yourself to get familiar with living in the UK before classes begin, so you’ll be able to focus 100% on your studies.

4. Explore the campus

During that first week, campus will be mobilised with guides and mentors ready to help new students find their way around. However, it’s good to get out and about either alone or with a friend, to get to know what is essentially your home for the next couple of years. Look out for affordable supermarkets, parks, cafes, coffee shops and of course pubs, that will help this new city feel more familiar to you and act as reference points for the future.

5. Be adventurous at Fresher’s Fair

Fresher’s Fair is the chance to be as crazy and adventurous as you want, exploring new hobbies and interests you may have always wanted to try but haven’t. Sign up to any society that takes your fancy, no matter how silly or strange it sounds. It’s a great way of making new friends and you’ll eventually whittle it down to one or two that you’re really interested in.

6. Make the most of student deals

Almost every brand and company will have special deals and rates for students, particularly during Fresher’s Week. You’ll likely be given a ton of impressive vouchers, coupons and discount codes at Fresher’s Fair, so stash them away and make good use of them. With an NUS card, a whole world of money-saving gold awaits you, so don’t hesitate to ask vendors if they do student discount wherever you’re shopping.

7. Eat well!

You’ll need to make sure you’re eating well and keeping yourself fueled during Fresher’s Week to avoid illness or burnout. The more of your mum’s cooking you can snaffle away with you the better! But other than that, focus on eating plenty of fruit and veg and complex carbohydrates like brown bread, brown pasta and rice. Consult your student cookbook for easy, cheap and nutritious meals and try to stay away from the takeout…at least at first. It can also be a good idea to take a daily multivitamin.

8. Manage your money

Money is an extremely important topic.You and your friends will have different budgets and allowances, so make sure that you organise your own. Somebanks offer an incentive for opening a student account, so although there will be a lot more interesting and exciting things on your mind, make sure that you get the boring (but crucial stuff) done and out of the way.

9. Co-operate with flatmates

If you’re in a shared living situation, be co-operative. Always tidy up after yourself and contribute to keeping communal spaces, like the kitchen or bathroom, clean and tidy. It’s also good to establish early on what is shared and what isn’t in terms of groceries. Some flatshares decide on an ‘all-in’ approach, some prefer everybody to buy their own food and most take an in-between approach. Make sure you reach an agreement that you’re happy with. You may not think it at first, but your flat mates are likely to become your family at university. This is not to say that they will be your best friends or people that you have loads in common with. At the end of long days, happy days, and sometimes-homesick days, these will be the people around you. So don't waste time being shy, make an effort.

10. Don’t skip lectures & seminars

During this first week, your lectures and seminars are of course the most important thing, despite all the tempting events that may be going on. These will allow you to get to know your course tutors and what you’re going to be learning throughout the semester, so be sure to attend (no matter how hungover you feel).

11. Make use of student mentors

Make use of dedicated student support teams who will be made up of maybe older students who can give you ‘been there, done that’ advice. At Downing, we have an on-site Halls Management team who will be happy to answer your questions or concerns any time of day, so you can have reassurance that help is always on hand. International students can make use of their uni’s international support team, who will be able to help with airport arrivals, orientation and culture shock.

12. Stay safe

It sounds obvious, but keep your wits about you on nights out. Always eat a balanced meal before drinking alcohol (carbohydrates are ideal). Keep an eye on all of your belongings – especially your drink. And try to go home in numbers – never alone. If you need to take a taxi, be sure to use a firm that’s recommended by your student union.

13. Missing home is normal

Diving into a new environment with new people and often, new culture is bound to be nerve wracking for most people starting university. Remember that everyone is in the same boat. You wouldn't be human without a little home sickness, however, there are things you can do to overcome it. Firstly, bring a doorstop to university with you. Leaving your door open during Freshers' Week is a good way for you to mix with your flat mates and let everyone know they are welcome. This will make you feel more involved in the new family that you have joined. You should also try to decorate your room and make it your own. Having a comfortable place that feels familiar and you can call your own means that you are less likely to feel like you miss the comfort of home.

14. Enjoy yourself!

You won’t get this week back again so have fun and let us know how you’re getting on.