Having been told that Freshers’ Week would be the best week I’ve ever had, I was a bit put out by the end, asking myself, “is that it?”
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the nights out, met some amazing people, and did everything I felt I was supposed to, but for the majority of the time I couldn’t help but feel slightly uncomfortable. It was a new experience for all of us, and suddenly this opportunity to make new friends, join every society, and get drunk every night became overwhelming. It got to the point where I caught myself worrying that I hadn’t made solid friends or signed up to enough mailing lists – and this was all within the space of a week. It’s only with hindsight that I’ve come to realise a mere seven days will never be enough to fully adapt to a new environment or situation.
The weeks and months that followed were better. So much better. That’s when I began to meet people – girls on my corridor, fellow musicians at society events, and people similarly struggling through a mountain of English reading. I suddenly had this longer time frame to meet people and find out what I really enjoyed doing on my own terms, rather than a compressed version of this marketed into one week.
There are so many positive things to do in this little town and it becomes so much more enjoyable when you just relax, and understand that “fun” isn’t just made in Freshers’ Week. Over time, I joined up to different societies, and made solid friendships throughout the university, and that was when I began to feel comfortable in my university experience. It takes some time, and that’s okay, because no one can be completely settled too quickly.
To any freshers reading this, here’s my stance: Freshers’ week has its upsides, sure, but you haven’t missed much. The best times are yet to come.
COVID, and the restrictions banded to it are making things harder at the moment, but it’s never too late to modify the conventions of making friends. Lots of societies are hosting virtual socials, like quizzes, coffee and cake chats, and pub nights, with some sports societies still doing socially distant practices. It’s also nice to add someone from your tutorial on Facebook or message them to go for a walk. Don’t worry if you think it would be weird because we’re all in the same boat of wanting to meet new people – anyone would be flattered by the offer. East and West Sands, Lade Braes, and the Coastal Path are all great places to go for a socially-distanced wander.
If I could give one piece of advice it would be this: get involved. Whether online or in-person, the opportunities to do different sporting, musical, artistic or political societies are endless, and you’ll meet a whole range of people who would love to talk to you. After all, the students here really are great.
This is a strange and difficult time for everyone. We’re all a bit homesick, nervous, and just want this to end, but COVID will not be around for this entire experience. One day we will be back to a different normal, where we can see our friends and watch a lecture at a non-modified speed (2x playback, anyone?). As for right now? Call your family, join a society, reach out to that person in your halls, and remember, you are not alone, and this will only get better.