As September draws to a close and October ushers in a change of season, each year a new generation packs up their lives and flies the nest to university. Aside from intellectual self-discovery and a whirlwind of opportunities, the start of Uni means one thing: Freshers Week.
Returning to Uni as a second year has given quite me this ill-gained sense of smug preparation, as I arrive at the gates armed with everything (or so I like to think) I need to survive the oncoming onslaught of alcohol, late nights and painfully early mornings. Therefore, going on my experience of my first year as a fresher, I have compiled a list for all those about to be hurled headlong into the strange and unknown phenomenon of freshers week; The Ultimate Freshers Survival Kit.
1. Freshers Pass – This may seem like the most obvious item, but I, like many others learnt the hard way last year. Freshers Passes sell out notoriously quickly, so make sure to grab yours as soon as you can to avoid missing out on the whole shebang! (And perhaps don’t try, like I did last year, to drunkenly forge your own freshers pass out of a crudely drawn piece of paper and a passport photo, because you WILL be chucked out.)
2. White Plimsolls X 1000 – never underestimate the power and infinite uses of £2 Primark white plimsolls. Undoubtedly fancy dress is going to feature heavily in all freshers weeks across the country yet, aside from being ridiculous fun, they can be a pain in the neck in the shoe department. However disposable they may have to be (you’ll see after just one night they’ll be indistinguishable from the grey pavement as you stumble home at dawn) at £2 a pop you can’t really complain.
3. Flasks, hip and thermos – A hip flask is always great fun to have, as you can sneakily take in some of your own drinks into the club, as even for student nights, some drinks can be very expensive. The great thing about a hip flask is it is so discreet and slim, unlike say a water bottle which ALWAYS gets confiscated; nine times out of ten a hip flask goes unnoticed. However, it is important to remember the other side of freshers week – the painfully hungover 8am induction seminars and welcome meetings. Therefore you will find a thermos of steaming black coffee with ten sugars your very best friend and perhaps a few painkillers or two, which leads us on to…
4. Paracetemol – Freshers is the time in your life where you will truly discover the ultimate limits of your body, mentally and physically, and notoriously, your own alcohol tolerance. To think you’ll be able to survive without a hangover is foolish and wishful thinking. Therefore do not underestimate how valuable paracetemol and aspirin will be as you trudge across campus to your morning seminars, still drunk after only two hours sleep, and subsequently go through the process of sobering and becoming hungover in a three hour class.
5. A onesie – Perfect for those feeling-sorry-for-yourself mornings, cosy winter evenings and of course, when you’re the last person to find out about fancy dress.
6. Cold and Flu Medicine – Another brilliant consequence of freshers week is the infamous ‘Freshers Flu’. After hearing countless myths and casting it off as urban legend, I plunged head first into freshers week, drinking every night ‘til dawn, then stumbling home at -5 degrees across the wet grass back to our accommodation.
…I have never been so thoroughly unprepared for such a biological onslaught to my body. In a desperate bid to get well after two weeks of hell, I ended up taking a little too much cough medicine by accident one night, and started hallucinating that my bedroom window was the portal to the underworld. Then the next day, my birthday might I add, my body just gave up its protest against the flu and I passed out unconscious at the tills in the crowded local co-op, and had to be strapped in a wheelchair and carted off in an ambulance. You will truly never be such a sorry-looking mess in your life (aside from perhaps the day you receive your semester A results) So, word to the wise, be prepared to be very ill, and if somehow you manage to escape the wrath, you’ll definitely be the most popular person in your halls.
- 7. UV Body Paint – There’s nothing a good university-town nightclub loves better than a UV night. For those unaware of what this is, it is a night in which all are encouraged to wear neon tutus, leg warmers and multi-coloured tights and vest tops, and cover their bodies in neon paint which glows brightly under ultraviolet lights. Although neon clothing is sold in most high street shops, as it turns out, UV body paint is outrageously difficult to get hold of, even in a University town. We ended up travelling miles to all the surrounding towns, yet came home empty handed, and reconciled to going along with just a few bright socks and tops. Word of advice, get your UV body paint, and any fancy dress for that matter, well in advance of the night, and looking online is definitely not a bad idea.
8. Condoms – Of course this may seem like another obvious one, but, as countless NHS representatives will bombard you with during the days of freshers week, there will be all sorts of nasty diseases and infections running rife over campus, not to mention the danger of a certain little someone making an appearance in nine months’ time. So whether it is for yourself, your friend, or the naked guy from down the hall banging on your door at 4am, you’re definitely going to want to be prepared for this one.
9. Food – Obvious again, but it’s amazing how this one can slip your mind amongst all the fun! You really do not want to find yourself immensely hungover, dying from Freshers Flu with no food and having to trawl in your sorry state to the supermarket. (Hence my ill-fated trip to co-op…) Another good idea which I only discovered in the later weeks of my first year, is to make extra portions of your dinner to keep in the fridge for later. For example, if you cook lasagne to have at around 5 before pre-drinking, save a little portion in the fridge to find in your drunken state. This will save you money from buying a suspect-looking kebab after you leave the club, and also you will most likely forget it is there until you look, and you’ll hug yourself with glee and be very thankful for past you’s ingenuity.
10. Camera – Whether it be ill-fated instagrams, classic club photos or delightful discoveries when your disposables come back, you’re definitely going to want to have countless photos of your freshers week. Even if it is just some proof that it actually happened, because if you’re doing it right, you should barely be remembering a thing!
These are the items which I only wish I’d thought of in advance, so as I stand up and salute the brave youngsters heading blissfully ignorantly into the doors of their student union clubs for the very first time, I hope that in fact you decide against all of the above advice, and have just as memorable and outrageous Freshers Week as did I, because this is the only time in your life which you can get away with being so truly and persistently ridiculous. So, enjoy!