What if you don’t want to go to freshers week?

Freya Hugheson 10 September 2019
Freshers week parties are a non-essential part of the university experience

It’s a rite of passage beloved by the masses. The freedom. The parties. The people.

Do you have to go to freshers week? 

Freshers Week is the time to settle in and make your safe haven nest for the next year. The time to meet the people you’ll live and study with. And the time to get to grips with the ins and outs of your course. 

But what happens if hundreds of 18-year-olds on a mission for alcohol poisoning isn’t your thing? Do you press on with a forced grin and cheap gin? Or do you strike out and march to the beat of your own percussion instrument? 

The former can be tempting, especially when you’re surrounded by people fully embracing the week’s festivities. But university isn’t all about following the crowd...

Forge your own path

This is the week with endless opportunities for you to meet new people and get to grips with campus life. But none of its compulsory. Events like freshers fairs, for example, are good to scope out as they give you a great idea of the things going on around you.

It does make for a great place to say hello to meet new friends. Love chess? Sign up for the chess club. More into kitesurfing? Now’s the time to buddy up to the society’s captain. Other than that, you do you.

You’re likely to be booked in for at least one induction to do with your course. Go to that, as it’ll put you in good stead for the coming weeks of settling into uni life. You’ll find yourself feeling more confident when you do get started with seminars and lectures, one up on those who couldn’t get out of bed.

Pro tip: there are going to be classrooms that are impossible to find. This is your chance to create a mental map.

We’d recommend you go to a few events your uni's putting on just to gauge what’s what. Who knows, you could end up sampling all of your campus’ finest cuisine in a food crawl (think pub crawl but more satisfying). Or perhaps you’ll kick off your day with an early morning pyjama rave.

Make time for the important stuff

Rather than spending the week drunk, hungover or both, you can use this time to get some things done. Freshers Week is also known as a welcome week. Making new starters feel safe, comfortable and at home is what it’s for. So take the time to do exactly that. Explore the campus. Try and get lost. Uncover the furthest points of your new home.

You might find that campus is tranquil and quiet each morning as the partygoers sleep off their sore heads. This is probably as nice as campus gets. Ever. Go for a walk, take it all in and even get in a bit of exercise. Maybe you’re keen to flex your interior design skills or expand your cooking repertoire. Whatever it is that makes you happy, fill this week with it before lectures start.

This could even be your chance to get a job at the student's union. Especially if you look into a bar or shop job, you could end up meeting more people than you would on various nights out – and you’ll remember them all too. Earn money, socialise and (probably) enjoy discounts. Sounds like a winner.

The fall of the (non-TV-related) binge

Each university seems to have its very own menu of drinks that’s been passed down through the ages. From snakebites to pigf*ckers, they all have potency in common. All of them are packed with booze and have one clear aim. These former stalwarts of the university experience are becoming less and less favoured though.

Studies have shown that a fifth of students are off the sauce. And with that, the winning formula of freshers past is transforming. Now there’s much more emphasis on daytime activities and non-drinking events. The gym has become a more check-in-worthy destination than the campus club, with green healthy gunge replacing the classic breakfast beer.

So even if you do drink in moderation, you’re not in the headspace to party, or you’ve given it up forever, there’s so much more going on to make your university experience a fulfilling one.

Freshers Week is just one week of the year. It feels important to fit in, but you’re not obliged to do anything you don’t want to do. Much of the week people use alcohol to plaster over nervousness and act wildly because of newfound freedom.

If it’s not your jam, spend your week doing what makes you happy. Use Freshers Week to mark the beginning of a new chapter. And that chapter should be all yours – without anyone pressuring you to do anything you’re not up for doing.

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Freya Hugheson 10 September 2019