This year will be my eighth freshers’ week here and if that isn’t a sentence that fills a girl with existential dread when she writes it then I don’t know what is.
When I started at York, Campus East only had two colleges on it, Spring Lane Building didn’t exist yet and Greg’s Place was just a solid slab of concrete known affectionately (and ironically) as ‘Vanbrugh Paradise’. Fibbers was named Tokyo and there was a bar called Rumours that sold horrendous alcohol concoctions so potent I can’t actually remember the contents of them sober. The infamous Willow Disco was still open and the bus was £1 for a single. Am I looking back with rose-tinted glasses? Absolutely.
Life was good then. Now I’m 25, grouchy, found my first grey hair over the summer and I’m about to relinquish my quiet, peaceful campus to you lot.
So what do I really think about Freshers’ Week now that I’ve had seven years of experiencing it? If I had to summarise it in one word, it would be: exhausting. If you’re a fresher, this week is going to exhaust you no matter what.
You may be reading this thinking, foolish Numi, I do not drink and dislike clubbing! I’m not going to be like one of those idiots giving myself liver cirrhosis every night until 5am while vying for my position on the chunder chart and seeing how many housemates I can get off with! I’ll be fine!
Let me stop you right there. Every part of Freshers’ Week is exhausting whether you drink or not. Saying goodbye to your family is exhausting. Moving in is exhausting. Trying to pay attention to introductory ‘How to Use the Library’ lectures is exhausting. Getting lost in Alcuin for five hours is exhausting. Trust me on the exhausting.
You’re going to need to take time to relax or you will keel over. Swap out a drinking event for an ‘alternative freshers’ event like a movie night or a board game night. Get into your pjamas with your new housemates and make use of the fifty take out flyers being fed through your door each day and order a pizza. Do face masks!
If I expend enough energy to look back seven years and remember my Freshers’ Week, I was ill with ‘Freshers’ Flu’ and horrifically homesick by Thursday. I came home from dinner that night and had a little cry. Gangnam Style was our Freshers’ song so I was also really exhausted from doing the dance at least twice every night. I think we were all feeling low, so my house decided to sack in the animal-themed campus club night and watch Gladiator instead. It was great just to spend time together as a house, take a break from the booze and have a reasonably early night.
If you’re reading this and you’re not a fresher: don’t worry, the exhaustion will grip you too. Whether you are hell bent on reliving the glory days by spending the week as a STYC or you’re the president of a sport club who will spend eight hours on your feet and non-stop talking during Freshers’ Fair.
I’m a student media nerd so I’ve been spending the past five Freshers’ Weeks doing radio every day from locations across campus, annoying the History of Art Department and the wider University population with my bad music taste and obnoxious voice.
Doing any kind of student activity where you have to be ‘on’ all the time is – you guessed it – exhausting! Your face aches from smiling constantly, you’re sick of getting asked for directions, you hate having to queue for a billion hours for a coffee because suddenly there are children everywhere
If you’re spending the week interacting with freshers: you deserve a face mask too. You’re the real MVP.
For an eighth year I think the most exhausting part of Freshers’ is the repetition of it. How many times have I told people to have a PJ party with their housemates? How many packets of Lemsip have I bought to stave off yet another bout of the flu? How many minutes have I spent playing Rather Be across campus for a feel-good freshers’ vibe? Am I thrust into the movie Groundhog Day every September?
I can’t really complain though, because I choose to get involved every year. I could have skulked off into my postgraduate office as soon as I started my PhD, vowing I’d never do Freshers’ ever again and burrowing into a pile of research papers like a small woodland creature. Instead, here I am signing up to every presenting opportunity going because as exhausting as it is, I like it.
Do you know what’s more exhausting? Being a slightly overwhelmed first year, moving away from home for the first time, and having to listen to loads of people tell you what to do and not to do during Freshers’ Week like we are the all-knowing gods of campus.
How many times are you going to have to smile through a STYC giving you their top hangover tips? How much RSI are you going to get in your thumb, scrolling through a T*b article about what not to bring to university despite the fact that you’ve already arrived?
Absorbing all the well-intentioned advice you get projected at you within your first 48 hours on campus is what is really exhausting.
So feel free to tell us to stick it up our arses and do whatever you want. Just make sure you get some sleep in between, eat some vegetables and be at least a little sensible.
Catch Numi’s columns in all print editions of York Vision this academic year.