When you first arrive at university, you’ll probably see lots of advertisements for “Freshers’ Week” or “Freshers.”
No, Freshers isn’t a type of mint! “Fresher” is short for “freshman,” which is another word for “first-year university student.”
Freshers’ Week takes place at the beginning of the academic year. It is a week full of events and activities designed to help new students make friends, familiarise themselves with their new surroundings and have a lot of fun.
What happens during Freshers?
Freshers is a mix of events and parties. Some things you can do are:
- Join a campus tour or learn about the services that your university offers – for example, mental health support, tutoring, or careers advice.
- Grab loads of freebies. Don’t bother buying new pens and notebooks for university – you’ll be able to get them for free at Freshers, along with tote bags, folders, condoms, and chocolates.
- Join a society. University societies are clubs where you can meet people who have similar interests to yours. You buy a membership – they usually don’t cost very much – and the money is used to fund the society. You can join sports teams, political groups, movie clubs, faith organisations, social movements, or silly things. Maybe your university will have a Cake Society.
- Take a tour of your new town. Let an older student take you on a guided tour of the area beyond your campus. That way, you’ll know where all the best coffee shops are – as well as being able to find the grocery store and the bus stop.
- Meet your neighbours. Many students live in “halls of residence,” which are nearby apartments owned by the university, during their first year. You will likely be sharing your new place with several other new students. This can be a great way to make new friends, but it’s also the time to make sure that you can get along with your new flatmates.
- Join a social event. A big part of Freshers is making new friends, so put yourself out there! Join a creative workshop, watch a movie, take a day trip to a nearby theme park, attend a concert, or go to a party. Your university will make sure that there’s lots to do! But be warned – there will be a lot of alcohol.
Does anything serious happen during Freshers?
Freshers isn’t all fun and games. This is also the time to make sure that you’ve sorted out the business side of things, like registering with your university, meeting your tutors, and taking guided tours of your department and library.
It’s important that you attend all the meetings organised by your course tutors and your department – this is where you’ll learn more about what your teachers expect from you. Be sure to introduce yourself to your lecturers and your new classmates.
You should also take the time to open a UK bank account (if you haven’t done so already) and register with a local doctor and dentist.
Finally, don’t get careless with your things. Make sure your valuables are stashed somewhere safe, and keep your doors and windows locked when you aren’t home. Check if your travel insurance policy covers your belongings. Your university may also have an insurance policy that automatically covers you. If they don’t, however, you should look into getting one.
Is Freshers fun?
It’s certainly meant to be! Universities do their best to make sure that there are lots and lots of activities so that everyone has something to enjoy. Many people say that Freshers is the best week of university and love to tell stories about all the crazy, fun, and occasionally stupid things that they did during their first week at university.
Freshers can be fun and exciting, but it can also be scary and exhausting. Many students come down with “Freshers’ flu” during or shortly after Freshers because they are physically and mentally exhausted. If you have a headache and a sore throat after Freshers, you probably won’t be the only one.
You may find that, despite your best efforts, you feel too jet-lagged or homesick to really have fun at Freshers. People may tell you that Freshers is supposed to be the best week of your life, but don’t feel bad if it isn’t. Remember, it’s only your first week at university. You’ll have lots of other chances to make friends, have fun, and explore your new home. You don’t have to do it all in one week.