If you’re considering moving to the land of Her Majesty the Queen – congratulations! You’re in for a great adventure! But moving to a new country things can seem daunting and won’t always be easy. You’re probably already wondering: Will I find new friends? Will I succeed academically? Will I make it on my own?
The answer to all of these is YES! And there’s no better time to start your journey to success than in Freshers’ Week. Let me tell you more.
First, Let Me Explain ‘Freshers’ Week’
At my university, Freshers’ Week is organised mostly by our Students’ Union and lasts for – well, a week (it can go on for a fortnight, if you’re lucky).
‘Freshers’ is packed with social events and activities that are designed to help you settle in, find your way around campus and the local area, meet new people from your course and beyond, and give you an overview of how things work (library, schedule, etc.). A big ‘Freshers’ Fair’ takes place at which you get to find out about all kinds of campus activities to get involved in, including sports and societies you can join.
Worried It May Not Be for the Shy and Timid?
I know it can sound weird to be participating in all these events with people you don’t even know – but trust me everyone is in the same boat. Before you know it, you’ll be going out and partying with new flatmates and students you’ve just met during your course induction or randomly on campus. It just happens very naturally and your worries will slowly start to fade. Even those of you who think you have the social skills of a hamster: don’t worry, university will usually help you get over it!
You’re in a New Place, It’s a New Start
During Freshers’ Week, the atmosphere is generally very lively and positive. People really seem to make an extra effort to be friendly and kind. If things weren’t great for you at school, don’t worry. It won’t matter how popular or not you were before – no one cares or knows about it. At university, if you’re natural and and open minded, people will want to spend time with you. Freshers’ Week is often the time to build relationships and friendships that (hopefully) will last.
First Impressions Really Do Count
First impressions are everything. Apart from being nice and friendly to people, you want to make sure you don’t get extremely drunk in your first night going out with your possible new / future friends.
Now, don’t get me wrong, have fun but do the drinking part in a more controlled way. You wouldn’t want people to remember you for behaving in a ‘silly’ way. Or, for them to have to take you home earlier because you can barely stand or can’t stop crying because of how much you miss home (been there, done that…).
This one is a must especially if you come from a very different culture. You might see / hear things that are not common in your country but it’s very important that you respect the culture and ways of your new home. In addition try to learn the norms so that you don’t offend anyone – for example: “please”; “thank you” and “you’re welcome” are probably the three most used expressions that you’ll hear in your day-to-day dealings in the UK.
Don’t Skip Freshers’ Events
When you’re out having a good time it can be easy to forget about all the events and activities you should be attending the next day. My advice is: don’t simply skip them – there’s a reason they take place, and they could be very useful to you. Staying in bed might seem tempting after a late night out, but try not to do it – you could regret it (again – been there, done that).
Join Clubs & Societies
Drop by Freshers’ Fair as it’s the biggest event where you’ll have the chance to know all about the societies, clubs and sports you can join: no matter what your interests or skills are, there’s something for everyone. And again it’s a great way to meet people and develop your communication and social skills.
Don’t Opt Out of the More Serious Stuff
Try to balance going out and meeting people with more constructive activities. There will be a lot of events aimed at making sure you get used to being a ‘new student’. But even more obvious things that will allow you to settle in, such as how to get to the city centre and where the main attractions, supermarkets / grocery stores are.
Don’t Stick to What You Know
Try out new things! What better time than university to try things out of your comfort zone? Play a different sport or join a student society or club with a not-so-usual sounding name. Personal growth doesn’t happen unless you do more and you get involved in different things.
Enjoy the Freebies!
During Freshers’ Fair and other events, the clubs and societies will have tons of pens, mugs, discount cards, etc., for you – grab it all, you never know when it might come in handy. There are usually also numerous events that offer ‘refreshment’s (read: food) – I’m not suggesting you go just for that, but it’s a nice extra.
Give Your Student Room a Personal Touch
At Freshers’ Fair, you’ll probably find all kinds of things being sold on campus and you’ll be able to grab a few things to give your student room a personal touch. Spend a few pounds to get some posters, a plant (if you’ll remember to water it), candle holders, photo frames, a comfy blanket, etc. – and voila, that student room is now your new home.
Sign Up with a Doctor
As you might have guessed by now, this whole week is so busy and you won’t be getting much sleep, so if you start feeling a bit run down, don’t worry, it’s just the famous “Freshers’ flu”. Most students get it by the end of Freshers’ Week so I would recommend that you stock up on some pain killers and vitamins. It’s nothing serious but let’s be honest: being sick, away from home with no one to cook for or take care of you is a little sad.
Really, It’s OK to Miss Home
Associated with this usually comes the homesickness, which tends to set in when we’re on our own and have time to think about ‘being in a new place’. I had homesickness, most of my friends did. I guess what I want to say is that it’s totally normal, it gets better very quickly and in the end you’ll be having such a great time, you’ll soon wonder what the fuss was all about.
Don’t Stall, Your Future Starts Now
And this brings me to my last point which is: Freshers’ Week is the start of your new adventure – live it to the FULL. I can’t stress how important those first few days and weeks are to getting off to a good start and making new friends. For me, they were invaluable. So, though it might be tempting, try not to put things off, saying ‘I’ll get involved next week’ or ‘It’s too early to meet new people’. That would be like trying to postpone your future – but really, YOUR FUTURE IS NOW.
Remember, You’re Not Alone
Wow too much information, right? Yet there was so much more I could have said about Freshers’ Week. But in the end what really matters is that you enjoy yourself and take every opportunity you can to develop and grow, on a personal or academic level. You will encounter some not so easy moments and you may have some doubts at first. That’s normal, everyone goes through these. Keep moving forward and embrace what this new experience has to offer you.
I look back and see how much fun I’ve been having this first year and how fast it is going by – and I can only recommend that you make every minute of it count!
I hope this was helpful to you and I wish you the best of luck on your new, exciting journey!
Meet me, Marta!
Born in beautiful Portugal, I moved to the UK to pursue an undergraduate degree in Business Management with a professional placement year at University of Sussex in Brighton.
I love meeting new people, new places and basically anything involving new experiences. I joined the MESH-ED bloggers team as I believe that taking chances in life and putting yourself out there is very important. Hopefully, answering some of your questions, I can help make your study abroad decisions a little easier.