Lessons Learned from Freshers Week

Freshers week has come and gone and, thankfully, I survived. Prior to the commencement of freshers week, I was both excited and incredibly nervous. I knew that it was essentially going to be a week of partying, drinking, and meeting new people. And while I consider myself to be outgoing, the prospect of doing all of this in a brand new city daunted me (to say the absolute least).

While I assume most of you reading this go to school in the states, I should let you know that freshers week is much like orientation week at any US school. Except, it is generally a bit longer and all of the drinking is school sponsored (Exhibit A: our RAs and Warden supplied us with a keg for our first common room party.) Still, this time of transition is difficult for everyone. So here are a few of the lessons I've learned this past week or so being a fresher.  

Don't try to be someone you're not- If you aren't the party-girl type, then don't try to be. Just because other people are partaking in heavy drinking doesn't mean you have to, too. While it's important to keep your mind open, I think it goes without saying that you should never do anything that makes you feel unsafe. So don't worry if it seems like everyone else is partying til dawn- there are plenty of people out there who would rather be watching Netflix, too.

Explore your city- The first week can often seem like a week of parties and meetings, but there are also lots of opportunities to go on a tour or even just take a walk about town. The scheduled tours of the cities sponsored by your school are often great ways to meet people, especially at the start of the week. On my first day, I climbed up Arthur's Seat and also went on a coffee crawl. Since nobody knew anyone else yet, everyone was super friendly. Plus, I got to explore a few great coffee spots (which I've been going to since then.)

An absolutely breathtaking view of Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat. 

Don't worry about trying to find your lifetime friends- Everyone's new, and nobody wants to be alone. Chances are, if you simply introduce yourself to someone, you'll soon be making plans for dinner at the dining hall or going out for a club night. Perhaps you'll maintain this friendship for a few days, the whole week, or even beyond. Either way, it shouldn't matter. You'll have plenty of time to make friends once you start classes and join sports and societies. And since you'll be seeing those people on a more regular basis, they're even more likely to become your best friends!

Get stuck in- The first time I heard this phrase (at my School of Social & Political Science welcome talk) I did a double take. "Wait, stuck where?" I'm not sure if it's an exclusively British term, but I certainly like it. Anyway, getting "stuck in" means getting involved in every way possible. It's easy to not dedicate your time to anything other than school and going out, but signing up for sports and societies is a lot more fulfilling. Even if you have just a mild interest, sign up! However, don't just sign up for the mailing lists- make sure to actually go to the events. Also, attending dorm/house activities is an easy way to meet the people you live with. Here's another tip: sign up for the society that goes along with your course. For example, since I'm studying sociology I made sure to sign up for Sociology Society (aka SocSoc). It may sound lame, but it will definitely help with your studies and allow you to meet people studying your course who you don't get to meet in those crazy-big classes.

Take care of yourself and others- If you've been going out every night, make sure to take a night or some time during the day to be with just yourself. Actually set up your dorm room (I forgot about that one...), watch a movie, read a book. In order to alleviate a bit of homesickness, I've been trying to call at least one friend from home a night (and also my mom). They're most likely missing you too, so don't hesitate to give them a call. And if you have a friend from high school at University with you (I do!), make a coffee date with that person to catch up. It's always nice to see a familiar face in a new city. And the most important tip of all? Take care of your health. God knows I didn't. #FreshersFlu hit me like a truck around midweek. If you need to stay in and rest, then do so. Make sure to eat healthily, stock up on tissues beforehand, and drink lots of tea. You can thank me later.   

Exactly what I needed after a long night out bar-hopping with running club.

In the end, Freshers Week is all about fun. So enjoy yourself while you have the chance. Classes will be starting before you know it.

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