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It’s that time of year again. Suitcases are packed, cars are chock full of cardboard boxes, and you’ve got more socks and pants in one rucksack than you’ve had altogether for the past ten years. Yes, it’s freshers’ week. (Or a really hefty laundry day.)
Although often portrayed as merely one big booze-ridden party, Freshers’ is actually a really important time in establishing yourself at Lancaster: socially, academically and financially. It acts as a sort of prenup to university and (this sounds lame) adulthood; making sure that you can look after yourself and cope on your own for what is often the first time.
Luckily, I happen to have a few handy words of advice to help you out. Here are a few things that I have learned, from my own experiences and that of others, which will help you survive and thrive in Fresher’s week.
Talk to People (Speak)
I know, I know. This is both obvious and harder than it looks. However, Freshers’ week is where a lot of bonds are formed, and strong friendships are made. You’re rubbing the backs of complete strangers as they throw up into drains, and you’re sitting with them at 3AM whilst they the eat sober- up fries that you’ve probably bought. You can’t help but bond.
You’re most likely all going to be as awkward as each other, so you need to take that leap and engage. Thrust your presence upon people, it doesn’t matter if you’re talking rubbish. Honestly, it’s more uncomfortable sitting in dead silence than you accidentally blurting out your love for Billy Ray Cyrus and disdain for modern memes. Whatever you say will be a talking point and help to start that thread of conversation. (If you’re really stuck, get straight to the nitty gritty and ask them their Hogwarts House. It’s important to know!)
Don’t Spend All Your Money (Save)
Once again, a fairly evident one. Nevertheless, you’d be surprised how easy it is to lose track of what you’re spending, particularly if you have contactless cards and/or you’re slightly intoxicated. Things add up in Freshers’; that takeaway might seem like a good idea, but it’s a tenner gone. The bottle of rum you bought on a whim is another fifteen quid down the drain.
A good tip to save money on a night out is to limit yourself to a budget, e.g. fifteen to twenty pounds. Withdraw this in cash, then leave your card at home. (If you do this, make sure that you account for potential bus/taxi fees. The Sugar Bus may be free and work on a schedule, but I still manage to miss it every time.)
Don’t Hook Up with Housemates (Think)
Okay, so yes, they could be the Fred to your Daphne. You might be the love story of the century: your epic romance blossoming from that single drunken snog you had in Daltons. However, (and trust me when I say this) that’s probably not the case. Instead, you’ll likely be scuttling round the flat in various states of disrepair, attempting to avoid all contact with one another for the rest of term. All the while, being simultaneously thrust into various uncomfortable situations together. (Second use of the word thrust in this article, impressive.)
Freshers’ week is filled with group activities, so if you’re going to be embarrassed lingering around someone that you made out with after tequila shots the night before, maybe think twice about it. Also, if you do end up starting a relationship and do happen to break up mid-way through the year, you’re stuck living with them for a good couple of months afterwards. It’s better to just wait until you’re in separate accommodation before you make a move.
Get Involved with as Much as Possible (Try)
Try new things. Sign up for that Aikido society, go to that white T-Shirt party, and bake an impromptu Victoria sponge with your flatmates at 2AM. Everything is new here at Lancaster, and Freshers’ week is the time to seize all the different opportunities: whatever they may be.
There are events to attend, societies to join and friends to make all over campus. There are plenty of reasons to get excited and involved. That being said, don’t feel any pressure to do anything that you really don’t want to do. If you’re not into drinking, don’t feel like you have to. It doesn’t take away from the experience. (For a fair part of the week, I was living it up on the lemonade and J20.) Freshers’ can truly be one of the most awesome weeks of your life, if you only let yourself enjoy it.
Don’t Burn Yourself Out (Relax)
This one might seem slightly contradictory to the previous, but they do work in tandem I promise. Freshers’ is fun-filled and jam-packed, but it can also be exhausting. I know that despite my enthusiasm, by the Thursday I was certainly lagging; a balance needs to be struck. It’s always good to have a night off, sleep, after all, is pretty important. You can still use this time to chill with your new comrades though, maybe nip over to Barker House Farm for a hot chocolate or grab a curry at Grad.
Looking after yourself is imperative, in Freshers’ week and all through university. Make sure you eat properly, keep up with the fruit and veg and drink loads of water. You’re not going to enjoy yourself if you feel like a corpse warmed up. You know your limits, listen to what your body’s telling you.
So, that’s it. The Holy Grail of Freshers’ wisdom summed up into five brief points. Speak, save, think, try and relax. You’re probably going to feel homesick at times, or shy, awkward or tired. It’s only natural. Just remember though, this week is for you, so embrace it.