You pull up in the front seat of your mum’s Nissan Qashqai, staring wide eyed at the thousand steps of the students’ union, big and brown. The glamour of Main Building sits behind you, and you look forward to having all your lectures there in those halls of real grown up study (you study English Lit, you won’t ever be in there). The streets throng with a thousand new students, some with parents teary eyed fussing over them, some just wondering around with a map and a backpack. You get cat-called by the promoters from places that you can’t tell if they are club nights or new street names for drugs (what the heck is Mode anyway).
Eventually you find your way to your halls, nine times out of ten you are in the student council estate that makes up Talybont, and you are guided through a series of forms changing doctor’s surgery and registering. “What a smart idea!” your mother will inevitably exclaim, happy to know that her not-so-little darling will be looked after when they get the sniffles, or chlamydia. You get your keys, which you can already attach three bottle openers from those goody-bags you somehow seem to be holding six of even though you swear you turned them all down?
Finally, you find your flat, and move in. This place is your new home, your paradise. Didn’t you hear, you have a cleaner? And your flat will be super nice, and you will all be best friends, and you won’t ever argue, and will cook for each other, and and and a million other things that are running through your head at this point. Until you find out somehow Dan has already been here three days and the kitchen smells faintly of weed, and Chloe has found out all your names and labelled every cupboard, with her matching cutlery, dishware, and cup set displayed proudly on the side.
Dear Fresher, oh ye noble and innocent one, we were all in your shoes. As much as myself and the rest of the elitist third years will pretend that we are older and wiser, we really aren’t. We may have been round the block a few times, but we still remember the fear that came with that week. We all remember the little cry you had on your first night missing your parents. We all remember the first time we got to Y Plas for a club night and was confused by everything that’s going on (what the heck is a YOYO anyway). We all remember over enthusiastically signing up for a million clubs and societies and hating your freshly acquired university inbox for the rest of the year.
But welcome to Charlie Knights’ patent pending list of advice for you, my soon-to-be avid reader.
Do not be afraid to ask for help. Throughout the week, you will see a host of people in brightly coloured tops, exclaiming that they are one of a million different possible people within the union designated to helping you. Advice exec, give it a go, your Vice Presidents, these do just sound like words I know, but they are all great people with a whole mess of training to tell you where to go and help you find the interpretive dance workshop you aren’t quite sure why you are doing at 9 on a Thursday morning. The brighter the top, the more trustworthy really, and if it’s a polo they probably know what they are doing.
Go to the club nights, but also everything else. Put down that book that is the last on your reading list, literally it probably won’t make any difference. This is your one week of no deadlines, of meeting the union and university you are going to be a part of for the next 3+ years! Go on an open topped bus with a stranger you met in the smoking area of Glam, go to all the freshers’ fairs, go to the Give It A Go for hiking or baking or comedy society. Join a sports team and do try-outs and the first session even if you aren’t at all sporty, the weirder the sport the better (what the heck is Korfball anyway).
Don’t listen when everyone takes the piss because you will be signing up for every club and society. You will walk into the Great Hall telling yourself that you would be different, you’ll only sign up for the ones you really want. Do not Pidgeon hole yourself like that! When I walked into those society fairs, I was sure what I wanted to be part of was my course based society, I wanted to play ice hockey, and I wanted to join an outdoorsy society. Now I am entering my third year and the only two groups I have consistently been a member of is that of Student Media (we are the best though) and A Cappella (I cannot sing to save my life). Try something new, accept the flood of spam for the next
year, it wouldn’t be first year without it.
Keep your door open, you don’t want to be the flatmate that is more interested in self lovin’ than keeping up with the rest of the people you will spend most of your year with. I can guarantee you will hate one of your housemates (I’m looking at you Chaz) but so what. That still leaves like 5 others, or maybe 13 others if you are up at Uni Halls. Be civil, and try and be as relaxed as possible. The more rotas, rules, and regulations, the more arguments I found. Do what need’s doing when it needs doing, sorry hun to burst your bubble but you are a grown up now.
Finally, keep up to date with the union. Your union is fantastic, consistently being voted one of the best in the UK, and there is always something going on. It’s led by a team of officers who YOU elect and who will always be available to help. It contains great places for food (Snack Shack Chicken Burger you are my one and only) and is at the end of the day an alright night out. You’ll have to spend time there, so read the student paper, listen to the student radio station Xpress, check the What’s On section of the website.
Good luck my friends, this week will seem like stress and hell, but you will come out of it with some of the best friends of your life, and more Revs leaflets than you know what to do with.