UK Freshers’ Week: A Quick Guide

UK Freshers’ Week: A Quick Guide

QS Staff Writer

Updated January 16, 2020 Updated January 16

About to start university in the UK? Make sure you're ready to make the most of Freshers' Week...

The summer is finally over, you’ve got your results, had your place confirmed and attempted to load all of your worldly possessions into a series of suitcases and carrier bags.

Eventually, the big day comes around and you move into your new tiny home, and then wave goodbye as your parents disappear into the horizon, never to be seen again (until you visit home in a few month’s time).

But hold on, your classes aren’t starting for a week. What exactly are you going to do with all this spare time – getting your student and library cards isn’t going to take you that long, is it?

Introducing Freshers' Week

Well, if you’re studying in the UK, in typically British fashion, there’s only one option… party non-stop for a week. Yep, it’s Freshers’ Week.

Because what better way to make friends for life then to drink too much, make a fool out of yourself, and then get overly emotional with someone you’ve known for all of three hours?

If you’re not that familiar with the UK, you’re about to take something of an intensive course in the British way of life.

You’ll find a surfeit of events to attend, as countless club nights compete for your custom, each pandering to a different musical demographic.

Any university worth its salt will offer everything from minimal techno, to northern soul, to heavy metal and everything in between.

And they won’t just be competing for you with their music – you’re never going to see so many drink offers in your life. Well, at least until you go to these things next year with the people who will, by then, feel like old friends.

Sign up, sign up!

During the day there’ll be a Freshers’ Fair, during which you’ll be assailed not only by various purveyors of strong drink, but by the legion of societies to which every university is home.

As well as the usual football, drama and creative writing, and various religious, altruistic, and political societies, you’ll find many more leftfield options. UCL, for instance offers a kite flying society, the University of Liverpool has a historical recreation society, and the University of Leicester offers a cloud appreciation society.

Join a few, and go on the Freshers’ Week excursions and trial sessions that are on offer (some more wholesome activities during the day will do you good).

Try something new – there’s a good chance you’re never even going to think about it again, and be more than a little confused when you receive a monthly update from the Oxford University Pistol Club or the University of Warwick Assassin’s Guild – but that’s what Freshers’ Week is for. Certainly, they are a good way to meet likeminded people.

Despite how important this week seems though, remember it is just a drop in the ocean when it comes to your university career, so don’t feel that everything hinges on seven days.

There will be other chances to make friends, take up new things and simply let your hair down. If you’re not ready to throw yourself headlong into the revelry and intimate friendships developed at breakneck speed, don’t feel pressurised.

Pace yourself

Take things at your own pace – the idea is, after all, to have some fun and to relax before the pressures of higher education really begin. If you’re stressing yourself out trying to adhere to someone else’s idea of fun then you’re missing the point. You’d be surprised at how many kindred spirits you’ll find if drinking your own body weight in alcohol isn’t your thing.

And for the rest of you – moderation is the key. It would be naïve to assume there’s not going to be a little bit of excess, but know your limits – there’s nothing fun about crouching over the bowl at 4am, having your hair held back by someone you met only two days ago or, worse still, an emergency trip to A&E.

Every year there are stories in the British press about the casualties of Freshers' Week, and even though these stories can often be the result of the magnifying glass being put over student behavior during the week, that doesn’t mean the dangers aren’t real.

Try and make sure to punctuate your alcoholic drinks with a bit of water, if you feel unwell, take a breather (don’t try and keep pace with the heaviest drinkers – you’ll learn very quickly how bad an idea that is…) and try to stay with your new friends – you don’t want to find yourself lost and alone on the confusing streets of a new city.

Saving the number of a taxi firm and reserving a bit of money might be a good idea too.

Whether or not you choose to spend Freshers' Week partying, this is a week to make the most of. Meet new friends, explore an exciting new city, and enjoy week of few responsibilities before the real hard work begins.

This article was originally published in October 2012 . It was last updated in January 2020