Lauren Toulson, History and Sociology, Third Year
Freshers’ week can be a great experience and the perfect time to make new friends, explore Leeds and settle into your new home. It can also be a time of transition and for some it can be quite overwhelming, so I’m here to help you make most of the week while also looking after your mental and physical health.
This is your chance to explore the campus and the city to see what it offers. Make the most of what the university is offering, whether that be taster events, department meet ups or introductory lectures. Not only is this a great chance for you to find your way around, but it will also allow you to meet others on your course. Doing this can put you at ease for when teaching and seminars start as you’ll be fretting less about where to go and who might be in your classes. Plus, you won’t want to miss the ton of fresher’s freebies on offer around campus!
Put yourself out there
Is someone in your new accommodation group chat looking for a friend to walk to campus with? Put yourself out there and walk with them! Meeting new people might feel like a task and by the time we’re at university we might already have a close group of friends at home and be unfamiliar with getting to know new people. But it is important to try and find people you have common interests with and people that help you build a new community at university. Put yourself out there and say yes. Even if you try it once and realise that you have different interests and hobbies then at least you’ll know a friendly face. Best case scenario? You could have a new friend to sit with in lectures, go to socials with and message when you need a chat
Look after your body
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate — and I definitely don’t mean on cheap vodka and beer from the corner shop. For those of you who enjoy going out and are planning on visiting nightclubs and bars in this week, water will be your best friend. By now you might be used to waking up from a night out and chugging a gallon of water, but it’s also really important to hydrate before you go out and while you’re out. Drinking alcohol can be really dehydrating and it’s often a smart idea to take a break between drinks to sip some water.
Fill up on food
Likewise, I know it’s also quite tempting to skip meals before a big night out but drinking on an empty stomach is never a good idea. Not only will your body thank you for having something to soak up the alcohol, but you’ll also be a lot less likely to end the night throwing up around your new housemates!
Watch your drinks
Although freshers’ isn’t always about nights out for everyone, it’s a big part of student life and it’s crucial to be as safe as possible, especially when you’re just getting to know your surroundings. Keep any drinks you’re consuming by your side for the whole night. Remember to keep your cups and bottles with you while you’re present and when you’re going to the toilet, or make sure that you give them to someone you trust. This way nobody can tamper with them.
Know who to contact
When you’re going out with people you’ve just met, new flatmates or even old friends, it’s always important to have their numbers saved in your phone. There may be a time when you get separated from the group and it may be the case that you don’t have any internet or data to contact the group chat. It might be worth having a portable phone charger with you in case you’re out of battery. Finding yourself alone in an unfamiliar environment can be quite scary so make sure to have at least one phone number of someone you’ve gone out with.
On the same note, before you leave make sure to prepare how you’re getting back home. Do you need the number of a local taxi firm? Have you downloaded Uber on your phone? Will you be staying the night at a friend’s house or do you need to check the best route back to your accommodation? All of these questions are worth considering before you go out or begin to drink to make sure you make the best and safest choices.
You can say no
Fresher’s week can cause some students to feel a lot of pressure to socialise and party when they do not necessarily want to. If you thrive in a big group and enjoy all that comes along with meeting new people and having new experiences then great! But for some this can be very overwhelming. Saying no to invites and plans can make us feel like we’re being boring or that missing one event may mean we won’t make enough friends. But that is not the case. There will always be other parties, other events, and other invites. You have time. Transitioning to university can be a lot and it’s more important to look after yourself and listen to your gut.
Relax and Rest
Moving to a different city or moving out for potentially the first time can be daunting and it’s normal to find the first few weeks, especially ones as busy as freshers, more difficult than you expected. If you find that you’re missing your family then try to arrange a time to quickly call or skype them and let them know how you’re doing; you’ll probably find that it makes you feel a lot better.
Or if you’re determined to make the absolute most of fresher’s week then try to dedicate a specific day or evening to having some alone time where you can spend time decorating your new accommodation or cooking yourself a nutritious meal. You’ll probably find that giving yourself a day off to take a breather will make the rest of the week a lot more manageable and fun.
It’s easy to believe that fresher’s week is all about going out, loud parties, drinking and going a bit wild with your newfound freedom. If that’s how you want to spend your time then you’ll find there’s a million things for you to do in Leeds.
However, if you’re a student who doesn’t enjoy these activities or maybe prefers to go out in moderation then don’t be afraid to arrange something else! If you’d prefer a night in with your new house then why not suggest a movie night, a game night or an evening where one cooks dinner for the others. These activities can be just as good at helping you to break the ice and become more comfortable with the people around you.
It’s really common to not know what to expect from fresher’s week and you’ll probably find that those around you are all in the same boat. Whether you’re really excited or even a bit nervous, the chances are that your housemates or new acquaintances are too.
Make sure to speak up and let someone know how you’re feeling if you find yourself struggling. Talk to your housemates, friends from home or even your parents. Just keep in contact and know that even the most confident of people can be a bit worried in the first few weeks while getting to grips with university. Once you’re settled in then you’ll find that you’re grateful to have spoken out.
Most of all try to have fun, relax and enjoy your first few weeks at university as much as possible. Push through any worries you may have and try to embrace the changes and opportunities that are coming your way.
Freshers week is just the start of an amazing time at Leeds.