The Ellipsis First Year Survival Kit: An Alternative Guide to Freshers’
Congratulations, you’ve made it to university! You must be ever so pleased. You’ve sat through onerous lessons, scribbled frantically in exam halls that smelled of stale wood and even staler coffee, dug your nose into textbooks, novels, poems and plays; talked to teachers, tutors, parents, friends and annoying uncles – all of whom have told you what you should be doing and what you’ll experience when you arrive. You’ve leaned silently over a laptop screen – anxiously refreshed the page, tried to contain your excitement when the results came through – danced around in your underwear a bit, drank far too much to celebrate, called your grandma, opened the letter and boom: You’re in!
But as we all know, the challenges of life as a first-year student can be as daunting and somewhat terrifying as they are exhilarating. So, to guide you through this turbulent time, the members of our new Ellipsis team have compiled a list of things they wish they’d known when starting out at university. We hope they can be of service.
The First Night – by Kamran Ramsden, Deputy Editor:
The first night of moving into your new halls/flat/house/studio is always terrifying, for none more so that the naive fresher. There comes a moment, a sort of dawning of consciousness – sometime between waving your parents goodbye and trying to improvise your first meal – the ‘Oh shit!’ realisation that you’re finally on your own in the place you will be calling home for the rest of the academic year. Depending on where you’re moving into, you may be surrounded by: unsavoury flatmates, broken furniture, broken kitchen appliances, faulty heating/water/gas/electricity, highly questionable stains (is it sick? Worse? Do I want to know?) and the homemaking student’s natural worst-enemy, mould! Meanwhile, you sit amongst the wreckage drinking stewed tea and eating toast – staring listlessly at your bedroom wall and wondering what the future may hold.
The trick is to power through and familiarise yourself with the place as soon as possible. Buy posters beforehand and stick them up straightaway. If you have an iPod dock, put on music that you like whilst sorting out your room. Try and introduce yourself to the people you’re living with, even if you’re not naturally particularly outgoing. Go for walks around your area and get a feel for where everything is. Remember that you are a unique and interesting individual and that your living environment should reflect this. Make it yours, this is your new home after all!
Every Minute Counts – by Lucy Brown, Editor:
The thought of sharing my words of wisdom with you all fills me with the highest sense of dread. It doesn’t seem two minutes ago that it was me sat playing awkward games of Never Have I Ever (top tip: lie, lie, and lie. Nobody wants to be remembered as the one who admitted to a foot fetish on the first night) with a bunch of strangers during freshers’ week.
I know I’m a killjoy, but university will be over before you know it, so if I can tell you anything it would be to enjoy every single moment of it. Yes, I know I’ve given you the most clichéd piece of advice ever, but whilst you may think us stale third years constantly walk around with ‘F*ck Off’ written across our foreheads, I can tell you from experience that us being miserable is more to do with the beckoning of adulthood than our marathon library stints and exhausted libidos.
Ever fancied pole dancing, beekeeping, or re-enacting the Battle of Hastings? Well now is the time to do it! Throw yourself at everything (and everyone) because you will never again have so many unique and rewarding opportunities at your disposal. The pros of joining a society are endless so push out of your comfort zone and make the effort to find something you enjoy – hint, hint, Ellipsis – and I promise you won’t regret it.
The Party Pooper Predicament – by Natalie Bolderston, Assistant Editor
I’ll be honest: I’m not a club person. Dance music, crowds and strobe lighting just aren’t my thing. Add to that the fact that I don’t drink much (eccentric Nat becomes plain ridiculous Nat after surprisingly little) and that I dance like a confused goose, and it’s easy to see why I avoid the party scene. This made freshers’ week a bit of a problem. I didn’t want to alienate anyone, but I also reeeaally didn’t want to venture into my own personal hell. After a lot of rocking back and forth and hair-tearing, I decided to go out just once. Aaaand… I enjoyed it even less than I thought (what an anti-climax).
So, I’d advise anyone in the same position to just do what you enjoy doing. Join societies that match your interests (there are oodles of them – so you’re bound to find something). Go to gigs and listen to music you actually like. Don’t feel pressured to drink; the best people you meet will all respect your choices. If you do feel obliged to go clubbing, go with a group you feel comfortable with. Having the right people around will make the experience…tolerable, at least. Also, playing “I Spy” in a dark corner makes the time fly. Sort of.
What I Wish I’d Known – by Joe Ramsden, Culture Editor
Your initiation into student life will present you with an abundance of unprecedented opportunities and prospects: university is a place to explore your identity outside of the conventional school system, it is somewhere for you to discover all the unexplored aspects of yourself, whilst simultaneously uncovering your innermost ambitions. But most importantly, it is a unique moment of freedom and opportunity to be exploited.
Many things will change in your life whilst you’re at university and so it only seems proper that you do your utmost to positively shape your experience into something that serves you best as an individual.
Perhaps what changes most irrevocably is your perception of time. Your time at university will expire at many different points: deadlines are just one example of this, if not the most painful and regrettable. Rather like your student loan, your account might appear full and endless in the beginning, but it will very quickly disappear.
So, make the most of what is on offer. Go into the city and find the quirky parts; check back with the societies you signed up with at the Freshers’ Fair; make new friends; and most importantly enjoy the feeling that now is the moment that never ends as before you know it time will be up.