Saunders' Corner

Getting the most out of your final Freshers

Cardiff is a hive of things to do and explore. Source: Cheryl Colan via Flickr

Sam Saunders

First things first, let’s get the introductions out of the way. I’m Sam, the advice columnist for Gair Rhydd this year. I’m 21, studying BA French and History and I’m going into my final year at Cardiff. I’ve had previous experience writing for and editing Gair Rhydd and I’m extremely excited to be given this new opportunity, where I can write something almost every week. My aim for the column is obviously to try and give good advice to my readers, but as that is also the goal of the section as a whole, I’m very keen to add a personal touch to everything I write. This will, I hope, make the column more interesting and insightful, so I hope you’ll stick with me. Anyway, onto the important stuff.

So here we are then, the start of a new university year. For many of us, including myself, it’ll be the last time I get to experience student life, and that starts with Fresher’s Week. I feel a little melancholy that this is my last Fresher’s, it seems like the first one was only yesterday! My first was amazing, I met so many new people, went out a lot and tried to explore this new and wonderful city as much as I could.

To everyone who’s doing it for the first time, I hope that you have a blast, and that you find some very useful advice in the rest of the section, where Katie and Megh have put together a great spread.

But, as you’ll have guessed from the title, I’ll be focusing on advice for final year students seeking to enjoy this week, and the wider year as well. First and foremost, my advice would be to enjoy it as much as you can, as it’ll probably be one of the only weeks of the year when you’re not bogged down with classes, work or the dreaded dissertation.

However, don’t read ‘enjoy it as much as you can’ as go out and get trashed every night, I think a more balanced approach is needed. I for one could never really do that, and my hangovers seem to have worsened into a mini-hell since the end of first year, so I really wouldn’t recommend it! I think nights out are obviously an important part of freshers for a lot of people, but instead of heading to the SU or Greyfriars Road, why not branch out?

Go to the places in Cardiff you’ve never been to before, try somewhere like Bingo Lingo or the Tramshed if you’ve not before. Clwb Ifor Bach (Welsh Club) is another great place to spend an evening and a lot of friends have recommended Ten Feet Tall to me. If you fancy something a bit slower, 2-for-1 cocktails and dinner at the Irie Shack is not to be missed, especially as the same offer applies at their restaurant in Cardiff Bay.

If you’re looking for non-alcoholic activities, then there’s plenty of those around the city too. For example, maybe you’ve never been to Cardiff Castle, or had a look at the exhibits in the museum, which has free entry. Another activity I would recommend is to get the water taxi from Bute Park to the Bay, which isn’t very expensive and is a great day time activity. Why not take advantage of Cardiff City’s newly acquired Premier League status and go and watch a match there? The club have reduced student prices and the home games always have a great atmosphere!

It’s worth having a look at the events societies are running for fresher’s week as well, as these give you an opportunity to try something new, or just muck around for a few hours. I’m really keen to give the Surf Society a go, as I think it’s probably my last chance before the sea gets ridiculously cold and I’ve always wanted to properly try it! I would also recommend the dry ski slope trip organised by the snowsports society, as it gives you a chance to brush up on your ski skills and have a burger and a drink afterwards. There are many more of these that you can find on the Student’s Union website, and there’s lots of worthwhile trips to different cities in the UK, also run by the Give it a Go team.

If you’re willing to go a bit further afield, Barry is always a nice place to spend a warm day (and it might be your last chance for a while!) while Roath Park provides a more local option. If you’re lucky enough to have a car, St Fagans, the National Museum of Wales, is worth a look, there’s a GoApe near Brigend and numerous beaches to explore, with Ogmore my pick for an evening stroll.

I hope this first column has given you some new ideas about how to spend your Fresher’s Week, as well as some ideas for free time during the rest of the year, as that was the goal. As I said at the start, the best advice to give is to enjoy it, this year is one of the last chances you’ll have to be a student, so use the free time as best you can! I hope you’ve enjoyed this, dear reader, and I hope you’ll be back for the rest of my columns throughout the year. I can’t wait.

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