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How to survive students freshers' week

Updated January 24, 2019

Freshers' week is the start of your university life, and it’s also unlike any other week at university. Most freshers worry about fitting in and making new friends, but it’s important to remember that everybody there will be in the same boat. Everybody needs to make friends, most people are living away from home for the first time, and everybody is nervous. Taking a few simple steps can ensure you survive freshers' week and make it more likely you’ll find your new best friends along the way.

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Decorate your room

Decorating your room can seem a little pointless when you’re still out forming friendships and drinking excessively, but homesickness is always a possibility during freshers' week. Put up a few posters in your room and make the place feel more like home. You’ll settle in better with personalised surroundings.

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Be open

Making new friends is the main worry during freshers' week. Friendships sprout quickly, so if you’re too shy in the first week you can get left out. Even leaving your bedroom door open and playing some inviting music helps make friends. Talk to people when they walk past, offer a cup of tea, or a beer, or anything!

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Answer the boring questions

During freshers' week, you’ll ask and answer three questions more than any others. People will ask what you’re studying, what you got in your A Levels, and what you’re studying at university pretty much constantly. It is tedious, but it’s part of the freshers' week meeting ritual. The answers to the questions don’t matter; they’re just seeing what you’re like. Smile, answer politely and ask the questions back. You’ll get to have more fun conversations afterwards.

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Be Yourself

It’s tempting to try and reinvent yourself in a new image, be it a poker-savvy card sharp named Ace or a party maniac called The Dude, people will see through it straight away. Even if not, when your old friends visit they’ll rumble you anyway. It's cliché, but just be yourself.

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Get the admin out of the way

One part of freshers' week is registering, getting your student card, signing up to a local doctor and making sure your loan is all sorted. If possible, run through these errands with some people you’ve met or your flatmates. Everybody has to do it and it’ll be completely dull otherwise.

Go to the Freshers' Fair

This is one of the highlights of freshers' week. You can stock up on free stationary (act interested, even if you aren’t) and find out about the different clubs and societies at the university. Join a club if you’d enjoy it – it’s a good way to meet people – but be wary of forking out your hard-loaned money for a club you probably won’t ever attend.

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Join in the revelry

There’ll be a lot of club nights, pub promotions and bar crawls during freshers' week. All of the local bars know you’ll be propping them up for the next three years, so there will be plenty of fancy dress parties and ludicrously cheap drinks to lure you in. For you, it’s a chance to join in the party and meet some new people while your inhibitions are thoroughly lowered.

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Fight homesickness

Don’t spend hours on the phone to your partner or bawling to your parents about how you can’t look after yourself. This is completely normal, of course, but your primary concern should be making friends for the next few years. Your homesickness will pass, but when it has people will have formed cliques and friendships without you. Give your parents a quick ring to let them know you’re alive and eating properly, but leave it at that.

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Prepare a hangover day

Freshers' week consists of drinking occasionally broken up by bleary-eyed, dehydrated visits to university to stand in a queue. Bring some light-hearted hangover films and stock up on snack food for the inevitable hangover day. Ideally, when you’re all feeling too rough to go out drinking, you could cook a decent, nutritious meal, but realistically just make sure you have some frozen pizzas. If you don’t eat properly, you’ll probably catch the freshers' flu, so you should at least be prepared for that.

Related: Hangover cures you'll never forget

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About the Author

Lee Johnson has written for various publications and websites since 2005, covering science, music and a wide range of topics. He studies physics at the Open University, with a particular interest in quantum physics and cosmology. He's based in the UK and drinks too much tea.

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