by Katie Lewis
For people like me, who find new social situations nerve-wracking, Freshers’ can seem like a daunting week. Not only do you have the pressure of living independently in what is likely to be a new environment to you, but you also have the challenge of tackling new social encounters. During the run up to starting at Cardiff, I was filled with a mix of dread and excitement. Before university, I was comfortable within my tight set of friends from school, and I feared the thought of having to go it alone. But on reflection I think that overthinking is one of the worst things you can do, and that it is important to recognise that everyone is in the same boat as you (it’s cliché but it’s true).
For first years, this is the week that you meet the people you will live with for the rest of the year. You might be panicking and asking yourself ‘What if they don’t like me?’ or even ‘What if I don’t like them?’ And the truth is that it’s likely you won’t get along with everyone you meet during your first week. But don’t force things, because as you relax and focus on enjoying yourself you will find true friends along the way.
If I am honest, I had quite high hopes and believed that I would quickly find a group of new best friends and we would form that unbreakable bond. And yes, some of the people I met that first drunken blur of a week I am still close with now, but some initial friendships began to fall apart after the buzz of fresher’s week was behind me. During your first few weeks, you will meet so many different people that it will take a while until you can decipher who are your type of people. Definitely be open minded when you meet new people, and acknowledge that everyone has different opinions and character traits which may not be too similar to yours, but this doesn’t mean you can’t get on.
If you’re moving into halls for the first time, leave your door open if you’re just hanging out in your room, this will show that you’re approachable and it might invite people to come and join you. If you seclude yourself from your flatmates in the first few weeks it might be harder to get involved with them. You could try suggesting game nights, where you can get to know each other over an intense game of Monopoly, or perhaps suggest just cooking a group meal and get chatting with everyone. Your first year flatmates might not develop into being your best friends, but it’s always reassuring to have people around you that you are comfortable with and can talk to.
Another tip is that I would strongly recommend joining a club or sports society, even if the thought of meeting new people makes you nervous. Joining a team allows you to be part of a network of people and gives you plenty of opportunity to get to know your peers. And if you’re not sure of what club you’d like to join, maybe take part in a few ‘Give It A Go’ taster sessions. These sessions give you a great opportunity to come out of your shell and get chatting to new people in a low pressure environment.
Overall, the best advice I can give you is to be yourself. If you adopt a new persona during fresher’s week to try to fit in, it will only backfire as your peers won’t know your true self. If you aren’t a crazy party animal, you don’t have to force yourself out every night just to ‘fit in’. The chances are that there is someone feeling exactly the same as you, so don’t fret. Freshers’ is supposed to be an opportunity for you to find your feet and explore new opportunities, so just focus on having fun and along the way you’ll meet tons of interesting new people.