First-year reflections on Freshers’ Week

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For me, the concept of Freshers’ Week had always seemed relatively simple: throw together a bunch of people who have never met before and get them as drunk as humanly possible. My preconceptions  (though somewhat accurate) were fashioned through passed-down horror stories from older family members, tales of hospitalisation, excessive amounts of vomit and nightmarish recounts of sports teams’ ‘initiations’. I believe that it is the media, and hand-me-down recollections such as these that have earned Freshers’ Week its title as a thing of legend, but despite this, I personally found that Freshers’ Week wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be. For example, I spent more time arguing about who had/hadn’t done the washing up than I did taking shots. To put it simply, Freshers’ Week was less of a week belonging to mythology and more a time of anxiety, incoherency and drawing lines on your milk to make sure it doesn’t get stolen.

Despite this, I survivedh a rather stereotypical (though by no means less fun) week, I learnt an array of dangerous new drinking games, formed friendships with other drunken freshers whilst stuck to the perfectly clean floor in the ‘delightful’ Hustle Club and watched one-by-one as my flatmates ended up on our infamous ‘chunder chart’. I learnt how to do my own washing, how to cook a mean pasta bake and most importantly, how much alcohol I could take without vomiting (which, incidentally, isn’t a lot). Freshers’ Week filled me with a sense of freedom: I could do anything I wanted, go anywhere I wanted, eat anything I wanted and drink anything I wanted. However, this new sense of liberation was short lived when I saw my dwindling bank balance and (lack of a) student loan. Desperate times called for desperate measures and thus brought along the sense of sobriety that can only come with having to buy Sainsbury’s Basics beans as opposed to your beloved Heinz and turning to pre-drinks, or ‘Prinks’, instead of drinking once out (unless of course, someone was buying for you, in which case you’d have a double).

The week was chaotically and perhaps somewhat poorly scheduled, with several of the larger and more exciting events crammed at the start of the week, but as long as I’d had enough alcohol, such things scarcely mattered. I was also very thankful for having (the best) Freshers’ reps, who were there to help you no matter what, be that through helping you down the dirty pint during a game of Ring of Fire or helping carry/drag you home after you partied a little too hard in Sugarhouse. One thing I didn’t expect about the week was how many friends I’d make, though the term ‘friends’ is a little loose, through an either drunken or sleep-deprived stupor I know only by vague nicknames such as ‘pickle’ and ‘the second coming of Christ’. But perhaps I should have expected this, as what brings people closer together than alcohol?

However, I had expected Freshers’ Week to be night after night of rampaging chaos, for 90% of which I would be incoherent, but although this was occasionally the case, I also started to get somewhat bored of stumbling in at three every night, lying on top of an uncomfortable mattress and wishing I’d remembered to shut my window because it was absolutely freezing. In fact, my weariness actually led to a particularly ‘wild’ night off campus, where my flatmates and I visited our rep’s house to watch the Bake Off (Tamal was definitely robbed) and Don’t Tell the Bride. I also began to suffer at the grips of the infamous Freshers’ Flu, which, until arrival day, I had no idea existed. I wasn’t expecting the downside of Freshers’ Week either – the one that certainly isn’t advertised in your £12 welcome pack. Night upon night of drinking left me sleep deprived, irritable and near penniless (welcome to being a student, I guess). I was also starting to feel somewhat homesick, which after less than a week, was unexpected to say the least.

If anyone asked me to describe my week using three words, I’d use ‘exciting, tiring, loud’, because that is exactly what it was. For me, personally, it was not the death-defying week we so often see on the television, and I enjoyed myself all the same. My advice to future Freshers is as follows:

  1. Down it, fresher! Get involved as much as you can, join loads of societies and don’t forget all the freebies during Fresher’s Fair! (Although I must admit the measly slice of Domino’s pizza was a little disappointing!)
  2. Try not to be too protective over your food/belongings. You will be living with these people for a year, so best not to start a food war too early. You should also consider labelling your stuff if you’re worried that someone might take it.
  3. Don’t expect too much. Or too little. Come into Lancaster with an open mind (and wallet), and do not forget that Freshers’ Week is a time of excitement and fun before all the hard work starts. As much as you might dislike it, you’ll miss it once it’s over!

Freshers’ Week was both expected and unexpected. I was expecting the large amounts of alcohol, the cacophonous sounds of drunken laughter and the sight of people falling over, and I was expecting the busy clubs, the queues and the drunken taxi rides home. But it was also more than I expected; I did not expect to start territorial wars over food, to stand outside the door of a roommate who you knew was inside there but had seemingly never stepped foot into the corridor, and I definitely did not expect to be ill for any other reason than copious amounts alcohol. However, after all the chaos, I can admit that I did enjoy Freshers’ Week but was somewhat glad when it was over, as it finally guaranteed me some good old sleep.

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