Don’t overthink it: ‘Welcome Week’ is full of new faces, new places and new things. It’s easy to mistake this erratic shuffle for the first weeks of term, by which time some social groups have fallen into place and feel more set in stone, but the truth is university life is much more relaxed. You will make new friends and try new things the whole time you are here, and there is no rush to build your friendships that first week. Odds are you will embarrass yourself in front of a crush you’ll forget about by second week, and help a pissed first year get home only to never see them again.
Get to know your flatmates: ‘Welcome Week’ is too early to burn any bridges you’re stuck with. Don’t worry about first impressions too much because they’ll be forced to see the real you in all your glory sooner or later. It’s better to be yourself and mention your household expectations early on than to spend the first few weeks cowering behind an overly friendly facade and a pile of mouldy dishes. It’s not all business though! You’re going to live with these people so putting that extra time into bonding early on can make those first months of uni so much easier.
Branch out: Most people in the pole dancing society had no idea they would end up there until they did a taster session and fell in love with it. The Big Cheese is year round, but introductory sessions to windsurfing and/or openings to show choirs fall mostly within this first week. Finding people with a common interest, especially an unexpected one, is a great way to diversify your experience and connect to more experienced students who can give you perspective.
Start good habits early: The calendar may seem overwhelming, but balancing your schedule with self-care is one of the most difficult and most important parts of university life. Start to haul around snacks and your water bottle, work on your sleep schedule and don’t forget to eat. Making time for a balanced meal the first week you have an essay due is so much easier if you already have a routine in place.
Pace yourself: Part of looking after yourself includes factoring breaks into your week. Portobello and the zoo have been around for a long time and they will exist well after the end of ‘Welcome Week’. Nothing ruins an Edinburgh club like forcing yourself to be there. The great thing about studying here is that if you’re keen to try everything and go everywhere, you have your whole degree to do so. This city is full of opportunities and ‘Welcome Week’ has a loaded schedule on a convenient brochure, but, if you keep your stamina up for weeks one and two, the doors open to you will only increase and get more unique.
Start slow: If you’re new to drinking, there is no pressure to match your RA and her friends shot for shot. You will get more out of ‘Welcome Week’ if you can remember it, and there are way more interesting ways to break out of your comfort zone. Drinking isn’t evil, but it also isn’t everything and it’s not worth endangering yourself for. Cavalier consumption can seem normal when a bunch of new students are trying to fit in and impress each other, but alcohol can be a dangerous and addictive substance. Learning your limits and setting boundaries are crucial components to a good night out.
Don’t become notorious: No one wants to be the one spewing on a stranger in Vodka Revolution but waking up with a traffic cone isn’t the end of the world. You won’t be the first to cry on a stranger in the Teviot loo and you won’t be the last. The truth is, there are tens of thousands of students at the University of Edinburgh and very little these ancient walls haven’t seen before. Forgive yourself, climb Arthur’s Seat, and look out on your new home knowing that your adventures are only getting started.
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