Making the most of freshers' week 2023

Daniel Higginbotham, Editor
September, 2023

As you begin your first term at university, this is a great opportunity for you to get to know your new surroundings, make friends and settle in. Get advice on how to navigate freshers' week 2023 and where to go for help and guidance

Often referred to as 'welcome week,' freshers' week is an incredibly busy time, filled with social events, freshers' fairs and the completion of important administrative tasks.

In reality, it's often more like two weeks, and its purpose is to give you the chance to make new friends and settle into your new surroundings before lectures begin.

Register as a student

You'll usually have a few meetings scheduled during freshers' week, such as welcome talks with your department, an introduction to your students' union as well as induction sessions with the library, careers office and your accommodation provider.

The most important date in your welcome week diary will be registration. You'll need to complete registration by a certain date and be aware that failure to do so may result in a fine or be suspended from study for that academic year.

Your institution's website should contain a step-by-step guide on how to register, whether you're an undergraduate or postgraduate student.

However, it's not just student registration that's important. Registering with your local GP is a must too. Hopefully you won't need a GP for anything more serious than 'freshers' flu' - the sickness and tiredness most students experience due to a lack of sleep and a change of diet and routine - but it's better to be safe than sorry.

In addition to this, make use of your welcome week to complete other practical tasks while you're free from the responsibility of lectures.

If you're living on campus:

  • find out where the library and students' union are
  • suss out where your teaching spaces will be
  • locate local food shops
  • enquire about launderettes in the area, if your accommodation doesn't provide washing facilities.

If your course requires you to spend some time studying from home, make sure your internet connection is sufficient, check that you have access to all the required resources and ensure you have all the necessary equipment to complete your work.

Read more about the 10 things to do before starting university.

Attend freshers' fair 2023

The first thing that springs to mind when thinking of freshers' fairs might be freebies and ways to save money, but that's not all these events have to offer.

Your university's freshers' fair also gives you the chance to discover new interests and sign up for new experiences. You'll get to speak with the students' union, members of clubs and societies and local employers face-to-face.

To give you an idea of what to expect, the exhibition held by Bournemouth University Students' Union features hundreds of clubs, societies and groups, in addition to more than 90 local and national businesses. There's live entertainment planned, sports demos, food and drink, plus plenty of discounts and freebies.

Visit your university and students' union websites for information on where and when your freshers' fair is being held. These may be held during the week or over the weekend.

Keep in mind that by signing up to a society during freshers' week, you're not committing to becoming a member - you'll just receive more information about what their activities involve.

There's no denying the importance of extra-curricular activities though, and when it comes to your job hunt they can prove incredibly useful.

Future employers will be impressed by your enthusiasm towards trying new things and your involvement in clubs and societies can provide practical examples for you to use during a graduate job interview.

Discover the city's nightlife

Ask most students what their favourite part of freshers' week is, and they'll tell you it's the nightlife. Freshers can experience student nights out that include foam parties, silent discos, theme nights and pub crawls.

Many university students' unions along with local bars and clubs provide wristbands that allow entry into various events happening in the city during this time. Dedicated resources such as The Freshers Guide and Your Freshers Guide also publish details of what's happening in a range of student cities.

Know your limits

Despite all this fun and excitement, freshers' week can get a little overwhelming. While social events are planned on every day or night of the week, you don't have to attend them all. It's a good idea to build in time for yourself during this busy schedule of events.

Also, as a result of its boozy culture, freshers' week could also feel a little excluding for the introverted or teetotal.

If you're not a drinker, many freshers' weeks now include no-alcohol nights out as part of their schedule and the majority of universities have their own sober societies.

Activities planned include karaoke, go-karting and film nights, bringing together students of a similar lifestyle who may find the stereotypically alcohol-fuelled student culture alienating.

Find help and support

While some students sail through freshers' week, others will find adjusting to university life more difficult. If you fall into the latter category, it's important to know that you won't be the only one feeling anxious, stressed or experiencing homesickness.

If welcome week isn't working for you, don't suffer in silence. All universities have dedicated and friendly welcome teams, so talk to them if you're feeling a little lost. These teams are on hand to listen without judgement, suggest events that might work for you and signpost you to the right people if you're in need of further support.

Freshers' week can be a stressful time if you're struggling to make friends or fit in but remember that this one week doesn't have to define the rest of your university experience. Once teaching starts things usually get easier, as you'll meet coursemates and fall into a routine.

Find out more

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