What NOT to do your first year

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The long summer is over, dear freshers, and welcome to Lancaster. This eternally-rainy campus will be your new home for the next three or four years and will be witness to your highs, lows, and that Friday night you fell asleep waiting for your chicken burger in Sultan’s. To make your integration as fuss-free as possible, I’ve compiled a list of the mistakes my friends and I have made so that you can make your own new, original ones. Happy first year!

DON’T get too worked up over your grades in first year – it doesn’t count. That’s not to say you can disregard the entire year, it does still give you a foundation for the kind of study you’ll be doing for your actual degree.

Having said that, DON’T pick a minor because you think your great-grandmother’s uncle’s cousin’s French heritage will mean you have ingrained knowledge of French language passed down through blood. Even Duolingo can’t save you when you find yourself sat in a classroom with 10 GCSE-level French speakers.

DON’T assume because your university has organised a social, it’s going to be just as lame as that Valentine’s school disco your Maths teacher Cha Cha Slid’ at. Here at Lancaster, university-wide events make up the highlights of each term, including: BigNightOut in terms 1 and 2, an off-campus bar crawl; Roses weekend (Lancaster versus York University for champion sporting establishment) in term 3; and Extrav week – 3 days of the socials-to-end-all-socials hosted by each college at the end of the year.

DON’T also be afraid to catch some college spirit alongside that Freshers flu. Being collegiate is what sets us apart from most of those other universities, so celebrate it. Go crazy for college rivalry during sports competitions Patriots/Founders/Legends. Learn those disgustingly catchy college chants. Join your college bar sports team and inflate that ego when you win an intense game of dominoes. But also…

DON’T limit yourself to only frequenting one bar i.e. the closest to your accommodation. Each bar has it’s own vibe, go trial them out to find your favourite – a couple of informative pairings: Bowland = pie, Grizedale = cocktails, Furness = wine, Grad = ale and Fylde = sports.

DON’T save going out just for the weekend – some of my favourite nights out have had me happily staggering out of Dalton Rooms because the triple-vodka-lemonades convinced me to snapchat a shiny park bench. Vodkabull Tuesdays and Thirsty Thursdays at Hustle. Whoops Wednesdays at Sugar. Who needs a hangover just on a Saturday when you could have an excuse to eat leftover Domino’s EVERYDAY?

While we’re on the subject of Dalton Rooms, DON’T stand under the glitter canons if you come across any on a night out – you won’t be rid of the glitter for at least a term. You’ll sleep in glitter. You’ll shower in glitter. You will bleed glitter.

DON’T restrict yourself to only making friends within your assigned flat – use university to break out of that A-Level cocoon and become the social butterfly your parents never believed you were.

And DON’T get frustrated when you hear ‘Ignition’ or ‘Mr Brightside’ for the 24th time on a night out. Hear it. Accept it. Live it.

With regards to university politics, DON’T run for JCR just for the crack. If you haven’t quite figured out who the JCR are, they are an elected group of students who help run the college by throwing socials, organising welfare campaigns and any college-based events. This is a great opportunity for those of you who fancy giving back to your college and aren’t afraid to give a speech to a room full of (mostly) hammered students. However, be prepared for much drama, little time and little reward, other than a cracking paragraph on your CV about how much you value teamwork.

But also DON’T steer clear of LUSU politics entirely because it might seem boring. LUSU has its own elected Full Time Officers (FTOs) who are ex-students taking a year out or adding a year onto their degree. Look at who they are on the website, what they do and don’t be afraid to contact them if you have any issues.

Lastly, the potentially most important:

DON’T walk slowly on the spine.

DON’T go home every weekend. I personally live a five-hour-drive away, meaning any weekends that I felt homesick or just plain bored of cooking for myself, I was forced to go out and socialise rather than retreating to the familiar confines of my home. Rather than nurturing that homesickness, this eradicated it pretty quickly as I found a new way to cope with the inevitable winter blues.

DON’T have that third GoBurrito of the day – getting the mixed vegetables does not make it any more nutritious.

DON’T walk slowly on the spine. Seriously.

DON’T leave that mayo-crusted plate on the counter for a week – you may well get an anonymous note threatening to throw away your crockery.

DON’T leave anonymous notes threatening to throw away people’s crockery. This is a university kitchen, not House of Cards. Christ.

And finally, don’t let first year get on top of you. It’s a blank slate, a chance to settle in and adjust to living with complete strangers. Make some mistakes, learn from those mistakes and have a great week/year/degree. Just don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.

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