One of the highlights of the student calendar, freshers' week is an exciting opportunity to ease into student life while you meet new people and learn more about your university
Your first few days as a student can be overwhelming. Often, you've moved away from home and don't have your usual support network of friends and family around you.
Although it may seem daunting, you'll keep your head above water and get the most out of freshers' week by throwing yourself into everything it has to offer. Bex Ross, graphic design graduate from the University of Sunderland, advises prospective students to explore what's available. 'Getting out of your comfort zone can open so many doors for you.'
Freshers' week is an incredibly busy time, filled with a mix of social events, fairs and important administrative tasks to complete. The opportunity to get to know your university and make new friends without the pressure of lectures and deadlines is too good to miss.
Grasp the chance to immerse yourself in a day of taster sessions, where you could discover new interests. Clubs, societies, external businesses and your students' union are among the many stalls at any freshers' fair, inviting you to register your interest in their services and collect pens, USB sticks and keyrings.
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. Don't pass up the chance to try out something appealing - societies are a great way to make friends who share your passions.
As well as being a way to have fun and try new things, there's no denying the importance of extra-curricular activities when it comes to your job hunt. Future employers will be impressed by your range of interests and ability to apply yourself.
Ask any student what the best part of freshers' week is and most will tell you it's the nightlife. Whatever you're in the mood for, there'll always be a club night to match your tastes. The new-found freedom of being away from home and having no study pressure just yet means there's nothing to stop you enjoying yourself.
Despite this, it's important to stay safe on a night out. You can do so by:
- swapping phone numbers with your housemates
- staying in a group
- only using licensed taxis
- never leaving your drinks unattended.
It's also a good idea to take a break from your partying during the week. There will be events planned for every single night, but don't feel you have to attend them all. Indeed, spend a night in getting to know your housemates and finishing your unpacking. You'll have more fun the following night if you take time to recover.
On the other hand, the university drinking culture isn't for everyone - more students will be ditching the booze than you might think, such as the members of the MMU Sober Society.
'We started the society with those in mind who occasionally or do not drink to provide an alternative to the mainstream freshers' nightlife, which some may find alienating,' says Leah Caffrey, the society's chair.
'We hope to enhance their university experience by bringing them together with people who share a similar lifestyle. If we can help anyone feel more included and give them things to do - from karaoke and go-karting, to nights out with other sober students - then we know we've done a good job.'
While there will probably be a number of meetings scheduled during freshers' week (such as welcome talks at your department, the library and your halls of residence) the most important is registration.
Registration is usually split into two parts - online registration, which can be completed from home before you move, and collection of your ID card from campus. You'll be sent a list of which documents you'll need for each stage of the registration process by your university.
It's not just student registration that's important. Registering with your local GP is a must, as it's likely you'll encounter 'fresher's flu' - the sickness and tiredness most students experience as a result of a lack of sleep, poor diet and a change in routine.
In addition to this, make time to complete other practical tasks while you're free of the responsibility of lectures - wise up on where your library, lecture buildings and students' union are, as well as your local food shops and launderette (if your accommodation doesn't provide washing facilities).
Help and support
While some students sail through freshers' week, others will find adjusting to university life more difficult. You won't be the only one experiencing homesickness or feeling anxious.
'If Welcome Week isn't working for you, don't suffer in silence,' advises Paul Molineaux, Learning and Teaching Officer at Nottingham Trent University. 'Universities (like Nottingham Trent) have Welcome Week information points, where you can join a friendly welcome team for a cup of tea, some biscuits and a chat. 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 any further support.'
Freshers' week can be a stressful time if you haven't made a connection with your flatmates, or see others making friends more easily. If your week hasn't gone to plan, remember there is plenty of time ahead to meet new people and try new things. Find out what to do if you're feeling homesick.