"Uni will be so exciting, I can't wait to make new friends and explore London" I told my mum last summer. I was keen, ready to socialise with anyone, willing to try new hobbies and visit new places.
Sounds familiar, right?
For many, moving into student halls screams independence and freedom. Washing up isn' a thing anymore. Mum and Dad aren't in your ear. You make a tight-knit bond with a bunch of strangers conveniently allocated to your dorm. You can drink limitless booze, stay out until the early hours and come and go as you please.
Which is all great, by the way.
What screamed at me, however, was the Dutch confidence that often comes with alcohol during fresher events, only followed by awkward, avoided hellos in the morning or a “what was your name, by the way?”. Call me a cynic, but the quantity not quality approach towards meeting people, people that I knew by now I wouldn't touch in sober life, made me bail freshers for good.
But flatmates are there to help, right? They are a comfortable source of companionship if all else fails. Friendships are made resembling blood-line relationships.
For a hidden minority, however, there is the issue of finding any common ground or similar interests with their co-residential buddies. You leave the intimacy and comfort of your home to a flat consisting of an abandoned kitchen and the mysterious face of seven bedroom doors. I've done the meet and greet already in secondary school and was left with a handful of friends. Don't become friends with your flatmates or the first people you meet for the sake of it; that isn't what university is about.
If freshers didn't work to merge you into a clique, your confidence is lost and you recoil to the back of the lecture halls once uni really begins. But luckily enough, you will find by second year that as lessons shrink in size, you will end up reintroducing yourself to people you didn't even know existed in previous lectures and find common ground.
Based on students I’ve talked to, most insist that coming back in second year is more relaxing and you feel more confident in your surroundings. 70% of the students insisted to having experienced the same situation as myself. Most importantly, they underlined that you shouldn’t feel pressured to have a 'perfect first year'.
So, how can the 'uni experience' be better? Many unis boast societies ranging from religious beliefs, academic subjects to sports and hobbies. Go to society socials and try to talk to everyone, embrace your awkward self and ask for Facebook names and numbers. An easy way to get to know people is a simple invitation for a coffee or drink. The first part is the worst part.
Freshers may not be for everyone – but that does not mean university isn't.