From fourth year looking back: a letter to my Freshers’ self

Freshers’ Week can seem incredibly daunting, going from being the top of the school to the bottom of the pecking order. This is a letter to my fresher self, with advice and tips from people who have been there and come out the other side!

Hey there, fresher.

You’re probably incredibly nervous about moving into halls and meeting new neighbours, making friends and just generally whether you’ll have a good time. That’s normal and don’t worry. Everyone is feeling the same, even if they don’t admit it! The most important (and hardest) thing to do is to make sure you get out there, do what you want to do, and be yourself.

Join new societies and try that sport or activity that you have always wondered if you could do. Almost all sports and societies will have a free taster session at the start of the year, which are perfect opportunities to meet people. Don’t keep going along unless you really enjoy it, as it can be all to easy to just stick with the people you meet initially.

Freshers’ Week and the year ahead are full of opportunities. While you should try to make the most of it, you must put health and wellbeing first. Don’t feel pressured into every night out. Sometimes you’ll thank yourself for staying in bed when you felt like you needed to. No one will think any less of you and will be envious when you recover from that dreaded freshers’ flu quicker than those around you! Similarly, the ‘Freshers’ 15 pounds’ is real, but don’t fear – everyone gets it and the memories you make are far more important than watching your weight. Get a gym membership in second year and you’ll be grand.

Most university courses have far fewer hours than you are used to from school so, try and make the most of all this free time. Yes, naps and Netflix breaks are important, but also try and use the time to be productive, join a society and even look into getting some work experience. It’s easy to generally waste all that free time, but you’ll thank yourself in the future if you spend even an hour or two a week doing something more useful.

During semester one, there will be an underlying pressure from everyone you speak to to start thinking about getting a flat for second year. You’ll be told horror stories of people who didn’t decide early enough and ended up with no flat for the next year. Okay, maybe that’s extreme, but try to avoid being too persuaded by this – it is better to wait until after Christmas to finalise any flatmate arrangements. The longer you wait the more you realise the situation and the people you really want. Whatever happens, you will find somewhere and it will all be fine, so don’t rush into something that you might end up regretting.

If you’re an international student, the fear can be even higher, especially if there’s a language difference. You’re far from home and there’s bound to be a culture shock. However, don’t worry, you’ll get used to it in no time, and before long you’ll be drinking Tennent’s and eating cheesy chips with the rest of us! You’re not alone and know that it will pass. Within a few weeks or months you’ll be enjoying your first year for what it is – a great opportunity to meet loads of people and to get to know Edinburgh.

Some find a good way to help combat homesickness is keeping in close contact with friends from home. However, others find this makes the feelings worse. Whatever happens, try and keep contact with a few close home friends, as although everyone drifts a bit you’ll regret it if come Christmas, none of you are talking anymore.

Remember everyone is in the same boat; nervous, homesick, and having thoughts of dropping out. The key is to stick it out – you’ll find that group of people who you click with, discover the part of your course that fascinates you, or start that niche activity that you’d never even heard of, and before long you’ll be loving it. Of course, there is no shame in dropping out – the only shame is not giving it a proper go in the first place.

Freshers’ Week can be very overhyped – don’t worry if it’s not the best week of your life as it hardly is for anyone. Just be yourself and get involved in everything you want to, and you’ll be fine.

Lots of love, a fourth year with much hindsight.

Image: Andrew Tan via Pixabay 

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