So you’re back from your gap year, or you’re enjoying the disgracefully long holidays that A-Levels allow you. Many of you will be painfully awaiting the thud of your results as they hit the mat, which will instigate the mad rush for accommodation.
You will budget, until you can budget no more before you join every other student in saying “It’s years ‘til I have to pay that off…”. You swallowed the cost of tuition fees a while ago, the cost of an M&S duvet cover or a Tesco’s frying pan isn’t going to stop you now.
So what can you expect next? Well it’s important that you buy more pots, pans, and spatulas than you could possibly need. And tea towels. So many tea towels. There came a point in my first year where you had to physically wade through grease-stained tea towels that clung to your legs like the taste of three too many Kryptonites (a concoction of vodka, cider and VK favoured by York students).
You shan’t tell your parents that actually washing-up Jenga is much more your thing (and everyone else’s), and that four cases of beer, three bottles of vodka, two packets of paracetamol and a set of speakers big enough to make enemies of any nearby flatmate would actually be of more use. But really they’re probably just jealous.
You get told one thing about going to university: it’s the time of your life. And your response can be two-fold. Either it isn’t, and, well, that’s disappointing. But perhaps it’s not as bad as option two where you spend the rest of your life trying to recreate your three years of BNOC-dom (Big Name On Campus) until you too have to lug boxes up narrow staircases when your first child starts. Perhaps take the time to humour your parents as they describe the ‘glory days’ of their youth.
As for you, you’ve got a week of madness ahead of you. Never have you been swept up in an organised fun whirlwind of such immense power. Every second you will be shepherded to more activities. Who knew what tug-of-war strength you could muster during your seventh hangover of the week? Every hour condoms will be thrust your way by virgin JCRC and union representatives, not to be confused with the bacon butties that the great and the good of Christian Union bring to your door (and I don’t mean that sarcastically – those sarnies are both great and good after a night in the Willow…).
Unions posters and leaflets (far less amusingly put together than this fair freshers’ guide) will quickly follow the condoms until they rival your tea towels for floor space. These will point you in the direction of Freshers’ Fair, until in a splurge of excitement you sign up for everything, and three years later are still getting emails from the Japanese upside-down custard drinking society…
But finally you will reach the purported ‘highlight’ of the whole shebang: the nights, the drinking, the boys/girls. Night one you’ll probably be tied to some unsuspecting member of the opposite sex – I once ended up in Flares in such a predicament (think Austen Powers coloured walls, creepy old men), and could easily have mistaken it for a Thai brothel set in ‘Lucy in the Sky’… Trippy. Night two and you’ll be dressed as gonorrhoea, charging round York’s bars doing your best not to catch the damn thing. And by night three you’ll be getting you know those living around you, “poncey southerner”, “sex-crazed boy”, “singing Welshman” etc etc.
Freshers’ Week can be likened to the trenches; you don’t clean up “chunder dragon’s” vomit without lasting bonds being formed. Saving a paralytic flatmate from the sharks on the bottom floor Ziggy’s isn’t the sort of action that goes unnoticed. But your closest friends? I did happen to live with some of mine, but, unsurprisingly you’re most likely to make ‘friends for life’ through shared schedules and interests, slightly more traditional means than forced binge-drinking (results in a different form of ‘friendship’…).
University is one of the greatest opportunities you’ll ever get in life. Never again will you block a main road in a cardboard Batmobile or serve pork pie stir-fry just because it rhymes. But beyond hospitalising yourself on a vodka cap (as a friend of mine did), Freshers’ is for most pretty uneventful. There’s no doubt Week 1 is an experience, but just remember, you’ve got another 89 of them after that.
Featured cartoon credited to Brandon Seager