You make it through A-Levels, barely, sigh a short breath of relief and prepare yourself for the impending day where you find out which University you’re going to burden for the next three years of your life. You sit by a laptop waiting for the day when you’re told what random part of the country you’ll be shipping off to, living with people you’ve never met. Some of them will be just like you, and by God some of them will not. For me, the one piece of unanimous advice that rang through my ears the day I found my shabby little corner of halls that I called home were the words ‘first year does not count’, and I proudly say I made that my motto to live by for the oncoming future that lay in front of me.
Mums will shed a few tears, dads will look on proudly as their little sprog is unleashed in to the real world, surfing their first wave of independence, hoping not to drown. We might even allow a tear to form in our eyes too, but we soon realise that there is two weeks of non-stop drinking to look forward to without any form of judgment aimed your way. So you say your goodbyes and you’re ready.
Hurdle number one, the kitchen gathering. This is probably the most awkward time you’ll spend with your flatmates as everyone crams themselves into the poorly painted, badly decorated kitchen, – take a moment to appreciate what it looks like at this moment, maybe even take a photo. It will be purely unrecognisable in a weeks time under the mountain of broken glass and weird looking stains that are going to cover it – everyone formally shakes hands and it begins. Every silence cuts through you like a knife, but you take it easy because you don’t want to come off as that guy who spurts out random stuff like ‘who here shits up the walls then?’, (as was the case with one of my flatmates).You will be stared at. You also don’t want to be too eager and over-enthusiastically comment on how marvellous that ‘gateau’ was that someone’s mum just baked, it will be brought up again when everyone’s comfortable enough with you. Everyone realises a solution to make this experience a whole lot easier, alcohol. So you neck a few drinks and psyche yourself up for the first night out, whilst also weighing up everyone in your house to see if there are any potential pals to be made and any potential weirdo’s to be avoided.
Fresher’s week (or two in my case), is literally what you expect of it. Over indulging in cheap alcohol night after night to try and prove to everyone that you‘re not boring and therefore a worthy housemate. Then reaping the reward of waking up at 3pm, feeling like death is knocking at your door but knowing that you have to do it all over again in about six hours. You may feel bad at the time, but in hindsight you know you’d do it all over again if you had the choice. Those few weeks are where you’ll find your best mates and also make your best memories. Mine is walking in to our kitchen one night and finding a decapitated pigeon lying on the kitchen table surrounded by a load of half eaten chicken wings. Luckily we knew who’d done it and made one of those sick fucks clean it up!
Pre-drinks soon become the bread and butter of uni life. You realise this when you have exhausted a few drinking games and start playing Never Have I Ever for the millionth time purely just to bully the odd few people in to downing a couple drinks. Its at this time when the games get really creative (and disgusting), but its also the time when you fully get to know everyone in the house for who they really are. Even if they are just that guy who almost released his bowels in his own trousers one night after drunkardly falling off of the toilet and passing out. Yet you love them for it all the same, how else would all the crazy stories you tell your mates back home be formed if not? It’s also around this time that you become very aware of the houses that are around you. Some of them you wont talk to at all, and some of them you will have full blown wars with. So don’t be surprised to wake up one morning to find a foul smelling concoction gathering fly’s in your hallway, its something we all have to be prepared to go through. All it means is that you’ll have to get them back ten times worse the next night.
When all the madness has died down and your liver is begging you for a break, you decide to take it easy for a while (going out two times a week instead of five). You start turning up to more lectures and seminars, convincing yourself that from now on its all about the work. Ha! That dream soon comes crashing down about your ears when you realise that all the work taught in the lectures are uploaded instantly to the internet for you to read from the comfort of your own bed. You become a skilful master in the art of procrastination, dirty plates are seemingly more interesting when there’s a 1,500 word essay choking the life out of you with every word of it you type. This is where you’re forced to take up a new hobby, the all-nighter. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of looking out of the window at half past five in the morning, a steaming cup of coffee beside your desk, with the dread of having to stay awake until its all finished and sent off. This is when you start justifying to yourself why you are so unprepared for all this work and leads to almost everyone I know saying the one line you’ll probably hear the most throughout your first year, ‘I only need forty percent to get into next year’.
Living on your own for eleven weeks at a time really does hit you like a brick when you realise there’s a whole pile of dirty washing sitting in the corner and no mum to wash it. You soon have to take in to account when that shirt will need to be ironed, or when those trousers will need to be washed. The cooking wasn’t as bad for me, being a self-catered student, but even finding something to eat for lunch was a struggle itself! So make sure to actually listen to what your mum tries telling you about what you should be putting in your stomach and how to prepare it, it will be useful!
At the end of the year, you really are comfortable with every essence of uni life, the antics of first year are over and you’ve joined the ongoing list of fresher survivors that have made it through first year all around the country. Now its time to get ready for the summer, and afterward, year two. When all of the REAL work starts…