What I’d Tell My Fresher Self

Stop thinking it’s the make or break of Uni life. 

In a few short weeks it’ll be a year since I rolled up to the University of Bristol, boxes full of gleaming new pots and pans, with bags full of washi tape to create jazzy designs in my new bedroom. So I thought I’d mark this anniversary by thinking about what advice I’d give to my Fresher Self to improve on those first few scary months…

My fresher bedroom 

Put less pressure on yourself
Freshers is probably one of the most built up weeks of life ever. Expectations of socialising, clubbing, drinking… Thinking you’ll find the New You. When you build anything up this much it’ll always be pretty anticlimactic. I wish I could tell myself to stop thinking it’s the make or break of Uni life. There were many many more weeks afterwards where far better things happened, far more mental clubbing occurred (shout out to Lakota) and far more valuable friends were made.

Spent the entire drive pushing my boxes off me 

Sign Up to Sports
Most people would tell you to go to societies, and I’d agree it’s a great way to make friends. I signed up to a few but dragged by feet when it came to team sports, as I’ve never been any good. But the first week is often when other unsure people will go, making it a good time to trial stuff without feeling like the only marshmellow on the netball team. (Also places fill up in sports teams so even if you want to join, you sometimes can’t)

Genuinely how I'd imagine netball tryouts. 

Get A Plant. Ok this is a tad of a random one. I've always wanted a plant in my Uni room, they look so nice and it's like having a less needy pet. But I was so busy at the beginning making sure I got enough water and sunlight that I couldn’t keep another being alive. By 2nd term it seemed stupid to get one if I was only gonna kill it come exam time. So yeah, get a plant and give it a friendly name like Herbert, so you can talk to it when you’re lonely I mean so you’re more inclined to hydrate it.

Speak to More People. The most cliché of all fresher’s redo lists. It’s the obvious one, because everyone wishes they’d socialised more. By the time you get to Christmas or so, you feel everyone’s in their groups and you can’t change yours, so you’ll always look back and wish you’d got out there more.
But also, don’t get offended by rude people. There’ll be some people in Freshers who literally seem to not want to meet anyone new. When you introduce yourself to them they will seem confused as to why they’d care, AND they don’t even fake a laugh when you say your name sounds like a jumper. They could just be socially awkward and will warm up to you. But some people aren’t worth your time. I wish I could go back and reassure myself that I’m not a complete social potato, and it’s ok to not get on with everyone.

Exploring the city's culture is a great way to feel at home and get out of the Uni Bubble 

Explore the city. Getting to know where you live is probably one of the best ways to feel comfortable in your new home. Also, it really helps to get out of the Uni Bubble, where it can sometimes be pretty overwhelming. So I’d recommend grabbing some new friends and going to a street market, board game cafe or taking in the city’s culture in a museum. As cringe as that may sound, it’s important to know that a city isn’t just the university, and a few streets away from your campus is a whole other world. And when you need time to yourself it’s good to have a favourite place to go to get some peace and quiet and spend a bit of dolla on a distressed wooden picture frame for your bedroom (looking at you, Clifton Arcade).

Stop saying it’s all amazing. I witnessed something in the first few months of Uni. Everyone says they are having The Best Time Ever. But often, when it comes to around January, many people start admitting that they felt lonely or insecure or just bored with their subject. I think it’s time we started addressing the taboo, and admitting to friends when things aren’t so great. It’s tough to acknowledge when uni isn’t all you expected, but chances are your friends will have gone through something similar.

I wish I could tell myself that I would make some great friends here, Freshers isn't the make or break. 

It’ll all be okay, and soon this will seem like home. It’s all so exciting, but for the first few months I felt it was a whirlwind and I just could not get a steady grip on anything. Everything moves so fast and at the beginning you can’t imagine ever feeling like this is your home. But before you know it, you know the best clubs, the fastest routes to your lectures, and where to go for late night binge eating. And then you’re writing a blog a few weeks before second year and freaking out on a whole other level.

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