Freshers: The Utopian Dream

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“It’s incredible”, it’s “the best part of the year”, and “You only get one freshers’ week, make sure you enjoy it!” So proclaim the many messages with which the nearly 42,000 new students across the UK this year have been bdfsdfdsfdsombarded with during the run-up to starting university and the infamous freshers’ week.

Yet, the high expectations of how amazing the first week of university is supposed to be puts huge pressure on new students – before they’ve even set foot in their accommodation. Not only do they have to worry about getting on well with their course and whether or not they’ll make friends, they also have the anxiety that their freshers’ week has to be the best of their lives. And for many people starting out alone in a new city, that is just not the reality.

The high expectations of how amazing the first week of university is supposed to be puts huge pressure on new students

In theory, wristbands are a good idea to help freshers get off to a good start. Having unlimited access to going out at night and joining in activities can be a great way to make friends, but this all-or-nothing approach to socialising can leave those who don’t have it feeling lonely.

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Not to mention the worry of not getting your money’s worth. The fact that the student body so rarely acknowledges this problem makes matters worse by isolating those experiencing it. Thus, many freshers find themselves comparing their experience of freshers’ week to the utopian ideal, meaning we can lose sight of all the good experiences that we’ve had during the week.

In theory, wristbands are a good idea to help freshers get off to a good start. Having unlimited access to going out at night and joining in activities can be a great way to make friends, but this all-or-nothing approach to socialising can leave those who don’t have it feeling lonely.

So how can we avoid this disappointment and present a more realistic idea of freshers’ week to prospective first year students? I propose two solutions. Firstly, focus on the practical. Why not make activities more accessible to everyone by allowing those short of time or money to pay for one-off activities. This would alleviate some of the pressure to be constantly having fun and allow freshers the chance to ease themselves in to university life. Secondly let’s calm down about freshers’.

Should we really expect to feel 100% comfortable after only 2% of our first year? For those that do, that’s really great and I am very happy you have managed to settle in so quickly. But for those that don’t, don’t worry. Everybody is different. Solid friendships take a long time to flourish and sometimes it takes a while to feel comfortable. So let’s give uni a chance before we panic about not being deliriously happy within the first week.

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