Looking back on freshers week at the end of my first year, it feels like so long ago! I know there’s always a lot of anticipation around freshers week and this can make it seem more daunting than it is. You’re thrown into uni life: living without parents, cooking for yourself, meeting new people and plenty of socialising. For some people this is super exciting, while for others it’s super terrifying. For me, it was probably a bit of both!
I really enjoyed freshers week, and there was loads of great stuff to get involved in, but it’s important to realise that it’s inevitably going to be quite a hectic and crazy week. I’ve heard people say freshers week is the best week you’ll have at university, and this may be true for some people, but don’t feel bad if you come away from freshers feeling slightly underwhelmed – it’s a fantastic week, but you’ll also have other amazing weeks and experiences that might top it, especially once you’ve settled into firmer friendships and routines.
I arrived at UEA on the 19th September. When you arrive, you register in the Congregation Hall where you are given your flat key and all the important documents like housing contracts. I then headed to my block with my parents and unloaded a car full of suitcases with the help of some friendly student guides who are around to help freshers move their stuff into flats. My parents didn’t hang around for long, so I said goodbye and finished unpacking. Gradually as more people arrived through the afternoon I met more of my flatmates and some of us went across the hall to say hi to the flat next door. That evening there weren’t any official events organised because not all the first years had arrived yet due to staggered move in dates across campus. Instead, my first night at university involved sitting on my flatmate’s bed with a few other flatmates, chatting and helping her unpack. We then ventured out on an exploration of the uni in the dark, where we proceeded to get hopelessly lost in our search for the lake. Meeting flatmates and making friends can seem like a really scary prospect but actually everyone is experiencing uni for the first time, and I found it really easy to chat and laugh with people, so don’t worry about it!
For the rest of freshers week there were events on every night in the LCR, our on campus club. Before coming to uni you could buy individuals tickets for certain events or purchase a wristband which gives you entry to all, which is what I went for. It was nice to have the flexibility of choosing what events I wanted to go to, and it meant you could go out as little or as much as you wanted. I went to ‘The Network UEA’, a.k.a. the t-shirt party, where you write social media details on a t-shirt; the School Disco; UEA Fringe (comedy and entertainment night) and the Welcome Prom. They were all really good nights, but I think my favourite was the Welcome Prom at the end of the week which included face paint, a silent disco and bumper cars. There was also a photobooth in the LCR each evening which was so much fun.
As well as the evening events, there is loads to do during the day too. There’s a societies fair, which is definitely worth a visit to see the range of societies on offer and to start getting involved. If you’re into sports there’s a separate sports fair, and also a freshers fair, with loads of student discounts and freebies on offer from local businesses. If you do want to get involved with societies, many of them will run events throughout freshers week so keep an eye out for that. Many events involved free food as well which is great! I went to a pub quiz and a barbecue run by the Christian Union which were both lovely, and more relaxed than a lot of the events going on during freshers which was nice.
On top of all of this, there’s also academic events running through the week. These might seem boring in comparison to all the other stuff going on, but they’re definitely worth going to. It a great chance to start meeting your coursemates and get a better sense of what the course will be like. As a history student, I had a welcome from the head of school, welcome drinks in the history department, introductory lectures to each of the modules, study skills talks, an introduction to the library and a meeting with my advisor.
Freshers week was an incredibly busy week but it was also really fun and an exciting start to university life. It’s natural to feel a bit intimidated or overwhelmed by freshers but my best advice would be to throw yourself into it and enjoy the opportunities available during the week. Freshers week is a pretty unique week of university and you’ll only get to experience it once so make the most of it!