11 Tips for Surviving Fresher’s Week
By Danielle Williams on August 15th, 2017
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Fresher’s Week is an incredibly exciting time, with so many new people to meet, new places to explore and new experiences to enjoy. However, it can also be one of the busiest and most overwhelming times for a new student – particularly for international students who may be coming to the UK for the first time. Here are some valuable Downing tips to keep in mind when preparing for and experiencing Fresher’s Week, to ensure it’s one of your best weeks yet.
Before you arrive on campus, aim to read all of your university’s welcome emails and documents so you’ll have an idea of what to expect. It helps to know in advance all of the information and support available to you and where to find it, such as your student counsellor office or sexual health clinic. For international students, a Welcome scheme and Orientation course will usually be offered, but you can check with your campus’ international student office to see what support is on hand.
Try to arrive at your halls of residence as early as you are able, as these can be when the strongest bonds are made. With so much going on over the next week and beyond, it’s also a good idea to get your stuff unpacked and settled in as quickly as possible so you’ll always have a pleasant base to come home to. If you are an international student, it helps if you allow yourself to get familiar with living in the UK before classes begin, so you’ll be able to focus 100% on your studies.
During that first week, campus will be mobilised with guides and mentors ready to help new students find their way around. However, it’s good to get out and about either alone or with a friend, to get to know what is essentially your home for the next couple of years. Look out for affordable supermarkets, parks, cafes, coffee shops and of course pubs, that will help this new city feel more familiar to you and act as reference points for the future.
Fresher’s Fair is the chance to be as crazy and adventurous as you want, exploring new hobbies and interests you may have always wanted to try but haven’t. Sign up to any society that takes your fancy, no matter how silly or strange it sounds. It’s a great way of making new friends and you’ll eventually whittle it down to one or two that you’re really interested in.
Almost every brand and company will have special deals and rates for students, particularly during Fresher’s Week. You’ll likely be given a ton of impressive vouchers, coupons and discount codes at Fresher’s Fair, so stash them away and make good use of them. With an NUS card, a whole world of money-saving gold awaits you, so don’t hesitate to ask vendors if they do student discount wherever you’re shopping. Check out the best student deals for students studying in Cambridge, Exeter, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Newcastle.
You’ll need to make sure you’re eating well and keeping yourself fueled during Fresher’s Week to avoid illness or burnout. The more of your mum’s cooking you can snaffle away with you the better! But other than that, focus on eating plenty of fruit and veg and complex carbohydrates like brown bread, brown pasta and rice. Consult your student cookbook for easy, cheap and nutritious meals and try to stay away from the takeout…at least at first. It can also be a good idea to take a daily multivitamin.
Don’t make the mistake of spending lots during those first couple of weeks, only to be living off 10 pence noodles by the end of term. Work out how much you’ve got to spend each week and stick to it. Draw your money out at the start of each week so it’s less tempting to use your bank card.
If you’re in a shared living situation, be co-operative. Always tidy up after yourself and contribute to keeping communal spaces, like the kitchen or bathroom, clean and tidy. It’s also good to establish early on what is shared and what isn’t in terms of groceries. Some flatshares decide on an ‘all-in’ approach, some prefer everybody to buy their own food and most take an in-between approach. Make sure you reach an agreement that you’re happy with.
During this first week, your lectures and seminars are of course the most important thing, despite all the tempting events that may be going on. These will allow you to get to know your course tutors and what you’re going to be learning throughout the semester, so be sure to attend (no matter how hungover you feel).
Make use of dedicated student support teams who will be made up of maybe older students who can give you ‘been there, done that’ advice. At Downing, we have an on-site Halls Management team who will be happy to answer your questions or concerns any time of day, so you can have reassurance that help is always on hand. International students can make use of their uni’s international support team, who will be able to help with airport arrivals, orientation and culture shock.
It sounds obvious, but keep your wits about you on nights out. Always eat a balanced meal before drinking alcohol (carbohydrates are ideal). Keep an eye on all of your belongings – especially your drink. And try to go home in numbers – never alone. If you need to take a taxi, be sure to use a firm that’s recommended by your student union.
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