Freshers’ Week... to ditch or to keep?
Many unis have announced plans to cut down and even cancel their Freshers’ Weeks, but for some, Freshers’ is an essential part of their 'unay' experience.
Freshers’ Week - the notorious period of drinking, dancing and general debauchery marking the beginning of an undergraduate’s university career can be the best week of a student’s life, or the worst.
Whilst some may see the week as seven days of possibilities (‘possibilities’ clearly a euphemism here…), to others it can be a phase of loneliness, isolation and insecurity. With universities such as Bristol planning to shorten the week from five days to three on the basis of restraining ‘the excessive drinking culture that the introductory week apparently stimulates’, a plan that met such a student backlash it was effectively curbed, Freshers’ Week is facing more and more opposition from official bodies. But is this a bad thing?
How important is Freshers’? And would your university experience be any different if you hadn’t had a Freshers’ Week?
Like every great debate, there are two sides to the Freshers' Week argument. Here are some first hand opinions on the subject...
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Arguments FOR Freshers' Week
With lectures starting soon it's the last chance students will have to let their hair down without worrying about work.
It encourages you to get out and meet people - even if you don't see some of them again, the more people the meet the more chance you have of meeting like minded people.
Freshers' isn't all about drinking - there are plenty of events such as films nights or quizzes that mean you can make new friends without the aid of alcohol.
It's a rite of passage - students are old enough to make their own decisions, if they want to go out and drink too much then it doesn't matter you call the week, they'll do it!
Miles Coleman, a student at Bristol Uni, believes the week to be 'essential to student life', describing it as 'the one time in a whole degree that is exclusively about settling in to a lifestyle you've never experienced before, with people you haven't met before'.
Georgie Francis from Leeds Uni agrees with Miles: 'I missed accommodation so was put in a small self-catered student house. It was quite intense, and the Freshers' events organised by Leeds really helped me meet people in other flats and on my course too.'
Sebastian Salek of Cambridge Uni told the Huffington Post: 'People say you'll probably never see the people you meet in freshers again, but the memories I have from that week have formed the basis of many of my closest university friendships today'
Arguments AGAINST Freshers' Week
If you don't like to drink you can end up feel ostracised if you don't go out with the other students. And if you do go out conversations will often end up being superficial and not entirely remembered.
Excessive alcohol can cause you to do things you'll regret - this is made even worse as this is the first impression your new peers will have of you.
The infamous Freshers' Flu is almost inevitable after a week of burning the candle at both ends, leaving your drained for your first week of term.
Freshers' Week is an unnecessary money drain - as a student you'll probably be poorer than you've ever been, you don't want to spend all your money before you've even started going to lectures.
Mary Keats, a first year Southampton student, agrees. 'Freshers' Week for me was a time of loneliness', she told me, 'I forced myself to go out each evening but drinking six nights in a row really isn't my style and I ended the week not only with a hangover, but without any proper friends'.
Katie Leur from Liverpool, who does ordinarily enjoy clubbing and drinking found - to her surprise - that she hated the week. 'It wasn't until after Freshers' that conversations became anything other than 'what subject are you doing?' or 'where are you from?' and that's when I finally met the friends I'm closest to today.'
So there you have it...
Freshers', although great for some, clearly isn't for everyone. Although the cliché of it being 'the best week of your life' is hardly true for anyone, it can be a good chance to get to know your peers before the hard work kicks in (hard work... first year, who am I kidding?!). If yours fails to live up to expectation however, do not fear - you still have three years (or more) to go out, explore the city and make great friends!
So what do you think? Is Freshers' Week all it's cracked up to be? If you're starting this September, are you worried? Let us know below...
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