10 mistakes every Fresher makes, and how NOT to make them.
Are you a soon to be Fresher? Avoid making some embarrassing mistakes with this simple guide (and feel smug while watching others fall foul of some awkward faux-pas)
So, you’ve received your place at uni and you’re just a few short weeks away from embarking on what will potentially be the best period of your life: no curfew, eating what you like and feeling absolutely no shame in staying in bed all day on your days off. While this is entirely true, that’s not to say your university experience will come without any bumps in the road; many of which will rear their ugly head during your very first week as an independent student. But fear not! As a seasoned student and experienced Fresher, I am here to shine a light on the sure-fire mistakes that thousands of students make up-and-down the country every year throughout Freshers’ Week, with helpful tips and guidance on how NOT to fall into their all-to-easy traps. So, grab a pad and pen and keep on reading for a fun and stress-free Freshers experience. You’re welcome.
1. Blowing your entire student loan in one week
I get it, when you see that lump of cash suddenly drop into your bank account, it’s hard to remember the far more modest financial situation you were in just a few short moments ago. It’s the easiest money you’ve ever made (you’re literally getting paid to learn things), and for some of you, it’s the first time you’ve had a four-figure sum in your bank account. But stay humble! Without sounding like your parents, remember that that money does have to last you the entire term and pay for things like rent, bills and books. As fun as that all sounds (sense the sarcasm) do set aside a little to treat yourself, but blowing the whole lot in your first week is certainly not a good idea. Sorry!
2. Locking yourself out
This one takes a whole lot of getting used to! Gone are the days when you can simply close the door behind you and carelessly re-enter the room a few minutes later: you forget your room key whilst nipping to the kitchen for a cuppa and you are officially locked out, leaving you with no other option but to trek down to the front desk in your PJs and plead with them to let you back in. I can say first-hand what a degrading experience this is, especially when your pyjamas are as Disney-fied as mine. Invest in a super-cool lanyard to wear it round your neck if necessary.
3. Packing everything you don’t need and nothing you do need
For some reason, packing for uni brings out the irrational, illogical control freak in us all. Why do we think that we’ll need that thick winter coat we haven’t worn since 2013 when we have one that actually fits, or every single decorative cushion on our bed that we have to tediously chuck onto the floor every night and reassemble every morning? That’s right, we don’t. Write a list and try to pack only what you really think you’ll need, remembering that you can always buy forgotten items when you get there. Another essential tip of mine is to keep your packing boxes! So many students chuck away the boxes they bought all their stuff in, without thinking about how they’re going to get it all home again. Shove them under your bed, they’ll inevitably lay there gathering dust for a year but you’ll be grateful for them in the long run.
4. Thinking the first person you meet will be your BFF
This mistake is inevitable, and possibly the most heart-breaking (don’t worry, you’ll make it through somehow). It is very easy to assume that the first few people you meet at uni will become your best friends for life. You’ll make a few new mates and feel confident that the foundations of your new squad have been permanently laid, but sadly, this probably isn’t the case. Don’t get me wrong, it is entirely possible to meet your future BFF in your first few days at uni, but don’t get your hopes up that your newfound friendships will last forever. Having said this, you absolutely will make some life-long friends at university, and they are the ones who will matter.
5. Only shopping when you’re hungry
Are you looking for a sure-fire way to spend money like water and gain the infamous freshers’ five lbs? Look no further! If you want to drain your wallet like there’s no tomorrow then by all means, only shop when you’re hungry. However, if (like the majority of students) you’re looking to save a couple of quid, then make sure to do an efficient, planned weekly shop which will help to prevent impulse purchases and hopefully make you dread checking your account less. For even more savvy-shopping, make sure to stock up on necessities like pasta, bin bags and washing up liquid when they’re on offer; (cue cheesy supermarket slogan) you’ll be surprised how much you can save!
6. Leaving the washing-up till later
I ask you, on behalf of all students everywhere, please don’t be this person. Don’t be the secretly hated flatmate that nonchalantly discards their washing up until after they’ve eaten, before completely forgetting about them and leaving the dirty pots and pan to stew in their own filth until the next time you feel slightly peckish. It’s revolting. Simply wash up as you go and deal with dishes as soon as you’re done with them, it’ll seem like a chore at first but you’ll soon get in to the swing of things.
7. Societies: signing up to way too many or none at all
A mistake that genuinely has the potential to haunt you all year long is your choice to either sign up to too many or too few societies. While they can be an amazing way to meet new friends and develop an interest, they also cost money, time and effort, so it’s best to really consider whether you want to commit to joining before simply throwing your money at them. Once Freshers’ Week is over and you have actual work to complete, one or two will be plenty to fill your free time without swamping you in extra-curricular duties.
8. Putting your whites in with your colours
While you make not like to admit it, for many of you the move to uni will be the first time you’ve had to do your own laundry (no judgement here). If this is the case, it’s best to learn the unspoken laundry rules (laundrules, if you will) before you make the infamous, fatal mistake of putting a red sock in with a load of whites. Ask a knowledgeable relative or friend for a laundry lesson before moving into halls and you can feel safe that you’ll avoid turning all your clothes pink in the process.
9. Overestimating your alcohol limit
As a brand-new member of the independent adult world, you may find yourself feeling invincible, leading you to get swept up in the festivities of Freshers and severely overestimate your limits. This fate is inevitable and, sadly, is almost a rite of passage for Fresher students. And while drunken antics are loosely acceptable in the only week of your life where you literally have zero responsibilities and therefore no real consequences of your boozy actions, in the long term, this sort of behaviour is detrimental to your health and your wallet, so avoid being the annoyingly drunk flatmate and doing something to embarrass yourself (which, FYI, you will never be able to live down) and make sure you know your limits.
10. The ultimate act to avoid: hooking up with a flatmate
Becoming romantically involved with another resident of your flat is not only a stupid act; it’s one that has the ability to simultaneously get on the nerves of your flatmates, your friends and each other. While it could be the genuine case that you and your soulmate have coincidentally found themselves at the same university, the same halls of residents and even the same flat, the likelihood of life-long love is sadly not very high. Think of it this way; the best-case scenario is that you get on really well, see each other all the time and unofficially move in to one of your flats, leading other flat mates to feel as though they are third-wheeling on a date when you’re both eating dinner together in the communal kitchen. Worst case scenario is that you sooner or later find that you are actually not destined to be together and break things off, which not only means you run into your ex almost every day, but the entire flat has to deal with the post-break up awkwardness as well. Thanks to this lovely picture I have painted, I’m sure you can see that hooking up with a flat mate is truly never a good idea, so for the sake of yourselves and your flat, please do not do it.
So, there it is. It may seem like a lot to remember but it’s really not that hard to avoid making a total fool of yourself during your first week at uni. Each time you have to stop and deliberate something (do I spend £20 on a take away pizza or buy one for £1.50 at Tesco? Does this yellow shirt go in with whites or colours? Do I really have to attend this induction lecture?) just ask yourself “WWMD”: what would mum do? You’ll make the right decision in the end! But most importantly, have fun and make the most of the best few years of your life.
See you at Freshers’ Fayre!
By Elise Harvey