Ka Leung & Amy Cooper
Two students explore the highs and lows of Freshers' Week so you can make the most of yours
Ka Leung: Is Freshers' Week “the best week of your life”?
If you allow yourself to enjoy it, Freshers' can easily be the best week in your university career. It’s stressful having to bank everything on the first week of university when you’re disoriented and know no one, but there is something about Freshers' Week that is not going to be the same when you sneak in as a second year. It’s really more about yourself than all the events on offer.
The newness of university is one of the most nerve-wracking parts of the entire experience: but this is also a huge advantage. You are still discovering what you like and what you don’t about everything and everyone. You haven’t decided whether you’re spending your nights in Queen Margaret Union or Glasgow University Union, or figured out the Hive playlist in its entirety. You see things for what they are. You appreciate the brutalist architecture with wide-eyed curiosity; you get lost in the quadrangles; you don’t have a favourite seat in the library cafe; and unless your rival of 17 years followed you to university, it is unlikely you already have an arch nemesis. You have a clean slate with so much to explore.
Though it feels comforting to have a set of familiar faces in every social situation, meeting new ones can be just as fun. Whenever you make new friends, you get to reinvent yourself, discover a new aspect of your personality, and there’s no better time to make new friends than Freshers' Week. If you choose to, you will be attending tons of events where you will be meeting new people from all walks of life. Since everyone else hasn’t settled into a cosy friendship group either, you’re more likely to bond with other free radical agents. Everything is open to interpretation, and so are you.
There is also an opportunity to try everything at least once: whether you have always wanted to paint, or try your hand at volleyball, this is your time to try everything. For most sports societies, there will be taster sessions everyday throughout Freshers' Week. You will have the chance to attend as many as you fancy, without having to commit to any of them. There are also exciting offers from the theatre societies: Student Theatre at Glasgow (STAG) do "New Talent" nights every year. Anyone who auditions will be able to perform on stage in one of the productions. You can also join the Cecilians’ open chorus or technical team. Furthermore, the GULGBTQ+ society runs a welcome tea talk annually. Plus, there are loads of informal meetings every week where you can meet fresh faces. If you’re not from Scotland, it might even be the first time you try a ceilidh. These are just a few examples of the opportunities that are only available during Freshers' Week, so I recommend you dive in!
For those of us who join societies for the social aspect, Freshers' Week might hold the best prospect. Let’s be honest, training attendance for most sports societies probably peaks around Freshers' Week. Even though it’s oversubscribed, you won’t get to see as many people in the Stevenson Building past September. You will be hard pressed to find three people coming to training near exam times (committee included). The excitement during the first week is almost tangible. It only goes subtly downhill from there. In time, people (including yourself) will get distracted by other societies, other commitments, or worse, actual coursework.
In first year, you really only need to get that proverbial "D for Degree"; so you might as well enjoy the academic freedom while you can. Never will you be as carefree as the fresher who entered university looking for trouble. For most Freshers', this is the start of your adulthood, which in a capitalist society spells employment, taxes and eventually a mortgage. With the latest SAAS payment, or a fresh paycheck in your pocket, your overdraft is still a long way away.
Freshers' Week might be wonderful but it only marks the beginning of the most exciting four years of your life. University will bring opportunities, challenges, joy, heartbreak, and wonder into your life, and you will come out of it wiser and stronger. Freshers' Week has the opportunity to be the best because that’s when you still have all four years laid out ahead of you - you still have all of that to look forward to; but it’s far from the only exciting thing this university has to offer.
Amy Cooper: “The more you put yourself out there, the more you’ll get back”
Freshers' Week. In my experience, people tend to have one of two reactions to those words:
“Oh my gosh, I can’t WAIT for Freshers' Week!”, or, “The sooner it’s over, the better.”
If I’m completely honest, my thoughts on Freshers' Week definitely fell into the latter category. I grew up in a small, rural town, and my school friends and I rarely went out (except from the odd house party), so I wasn’t particularly excited about drinking and dancing for seven nights straight. Suffering from social anxiety and depression too, this combination of factors didn't leave me feeling particularly hopeful with regards to Freshers' Week. However, I ended up having a really positive experience: this article should dispel some common myths surrounding Freshers' Week and leave you feeling more confident before 16 September rolls around.
The first decision regarding Freshers' Week is one that most students make before they even set foot in Glasgow: whether or not to buy a Freshers' wristband. Most events throughout Freshers' Week are open to everyone, even if you’re not actually a fresher. However, the evening events at some of the unions are “wristband only”. This year the wristbands are £45, which is a fairly steep price (if you ask me) and an increase on the £42 I paid for one last year. Although some of the events were really good fun – the UV paint party was my personal favourite – by no means is it a necessity to having an amazing Freshers' Week.
Regardless as to whether or not you buy the wristband, there is so much going on at the university that you will always be spoilt for choice and will never be short of things to do. Furthermore, if you are not a huge fan of partying (like myself) there is still so much for you to get involved with: from pool tournaments and ceilidhs, to sports taster sessions and the infamous IKEA trips. In short, buying the wristband is a totally personal decision and will in no way make or break your Freshers' Week.
The fear of missing out – or FOMO, as the kids call it nowadays – is something I expected I would suffer from badly at university. My anxiety causes me to feel overwhelmed by social situations but simultaneously I can get extremely anxious and stressed if I know I am missing out on an event. With so much going on in Freshers' Week, you are going to miss out on some things – you simply can’t be in more than one place at one time! But don’t let that get you down, because regardless of what you choose to go to, you are bound to meet some amazing people and have an absolute blast. Some of the events that I went to last year include the Freshers' ceilidh at Glasgow University Union, the sports fayre in the Stevenson Building, and (as mentioned before) the UV paint party. There are so many different things to choose from, so you will definitely find something that takes your fancy, and will barely have time to wonder if you are missing out on something else. Spoiler alert – you will not be missing out. Trust me on that one.
One concern the majority of students have during Freshers' Week is whether or not they will be able to make friends. I am not the best at speaking to new people so I was terrified of not only living with four complete strangers for a year, but also of living in a city where I knew a handful of people at most. Compared to other people, I had it easy: a few of my school friends were also starting at Glasgow and I only moved halfway across the country, not halfway across the world. Moving to university and the idea of going out with total strangers for a week is daunting for anyone, but even more so for some. However, I can confidently say that you will have no issues with making friends in Freshers' Week, no matter who you are. Chances are that 90% of the people you meet will feel exactly the same way, so don’t be afraid of diving right in and making conversations with those around you. It may be intimidating at first but the more you put yourself out there, the more you’ll get back, and you will very quickly find a dance partner for the ceilidh or a teammate for beer pong. You will meet so many great people in Freshers' Week that you will look back on it and wonder why you were so nervous about it in the first place.
All that is left to say is that I hope you have a fantastic Freshers' Week, and all the best for your time at the University of Glasgow. If you still have any questions or queries, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the university staff; there will also be Freshers' helpers throughout campus to give you a hand with anything you need.