Features writer Jennifer Peck gives a personal account of her own freshers week and offers perspective on its importance.
There are many significant ‘weeks’ in a person’s life – exam week, first week at a new job, a week-off work etc. etc. Somehow however, Fresher’s week has a standing above the rest. I think it’s fair to say that I’ve forgotten many of the 1191 weeks I’ve lived through since I was born, but I think it’s even fairer to say that Fresher’s week is not one of them.
The night before travelling to university was like the day before travelling on a school trip – except this one was for a hell of a sight longer and was a hell of a sight more expensive. She’ll kill me for saying it, but the fact that my flatmate to-be had reached out beforehand and messaged me that we were in the same flat was the only thing that kept me sane under the weight of torturous nerves I was feeling. The fact that 3 years later I can still comfortably remind her of this and achieve a satisfactory level of embarrassment is testimony enough to our friendship!
“I took the approach of saying ‘yes’ to everything
But all in all, what do I remember about Fresher’s week 2016? Truth be told, I don’t really know who that girl was – she was braver, more outgoing and a lot more naïve than the one sat here now. I took the approach of saying ‘yes’ to everything, as the cliché goes, and that did me justice not only in Fresher’s week but for the rest of the year as well. Such an approach however was not feasible in the long-term, as I found out in second year when saying ‘yes’ to everything became exhausting, and the need to be outgoing fell away as I settled in with the people that understood me. But am I glad that that brave, outgoing, rather naive 19-year-old took over in Fresher’s? Without a doubt! She was the version of me that I needed to be at the time. She didn’t over-think people’s intentions, she didn’t worry about work (within reason anyways!) and she didn’t hold herself back from getting to know new people.
Coming with an open-mind saved me from becoming disheartened not only in Fresher’s week but beyond
Fresher’s week was a blur of getting to know Nottingham, getting to know every single person I came across and remembering to actually eat. It’s hard to say if it was over-rated or not as my expectations were neither high nor low. Life at university was nothing like life at home and therefore there were no disappointments – coming with an open-mind saved me from becoming disheartened not only in Fresher’s week but beyond.
The media and universities make out that Fresher’s week is the be all and end all of your university life. When it boils down to it, the truth is that Fresher’s week really has no bearing on what the next 3+ years hold in store for you. You can find your future housemates, future best friend or future partner in Fresher’s week, but, you also can find exactly the people you’d never wish to be your future housemates, future best friend or future partner – both outcomes are acceptable and both mean that you are doing just fine.
No person can ever reveal their true self within a week
There’s a misconception that if you don’t find ‘your people’ within the first week that you’re doing it wrong, but this concept is fundamentally flawed. No person can ever reveal their true self within in a week and no person is free from changing who they are over time. The idea that not having your brand-new life up and running within a week deems you as incapable is, for better words, bullsh*t. The key to moving to university in my opinion is to, simply put, ‘go with the flow’ – say ‘yes’ but also say ‘no’ and take your time to let yourself adjust.
Fresher’s week is just one in the many 1000s of weeks you will experience in life. The truth is, it is not over-rated, if you don’t want it to be. It is an opportunity for you to be the person that you’ve wanted to be. No one week can ever determine how you live the rest of your weeks if you don’t let it so, let yourself be braver, be more outgoing and of course, be rather more naïve!
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