How to Ace Freshers’ Week: A Guide

Samuel Juniper guides new freshers' through the first challenge Oxford has to offer

Results day is my least favourite day of the year. That is because I have to work until 4am in a nightclub at an A-Level results party, where I am swarmed by you little shits. Loud. Annoying. Rendered catatonic by your horrific binge drinking, which you justify with your excellent/abysmal (delete as appropriate) grades. How dare you be having a good time while I lose sleep?

Maybe I’m just being selfish. For many a sixth former, it’s a day of good news – confirmation that you’ve made it into university. A bunch of you will have done super well and made it into Oxford, which is probably why you’re reading this article (keen) ahead of your arrival in October.

People always ask me: “Gee whiz Sammy, as the winner of Somerville College 2015 Freshers’ Social Butterfly Award, and the proud recipient of 10 free bop juices, what would be your tips for getting the high score at Freshers’ week?” My response is always the same – there’s some things you just can’t examine, and one of them is how well you do at Freshers’. It would be a hell of a mark scheme. However, I can give you some helpful pointers! If you want to ace Freshers’, read on…

Everyone needs an icebreaker! Pro tip: don’t use something private that would make strangers uncomfortable, such as an embarrassing anecdote or the story about how your parents were murdered by the university’s Vice Chancellor when you were aged five and you spent your childhood training as an assassin alongside your studies, so you could avenge your parents’ death at your graduation ceremony in three years’ time. Instead, pick a couple of TV shows that you could use as talking points. I’d recommend something popular that has aired recently like Game of Thrones, Rick and Morty, Narcos, or Love Island (but please use this one as a last resort, you degenerate).

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If you fancy yourself as a bit of a politico, it wouldn’t hurt to brush up on your arguments in case you get ambushed by a future member of the cabinet looking for a cheeky debate about Brexit. If politics really isn’t your thing, just describe yourself as a pro-Remain Jeremy Corbyn supporter, as this is your best chance of being met with a warm response.

Bring shot glasses. Trust me, they’re a crowd pleaser. Even if you don’t drink that much, lending them out will endear you to the drunks across the hall. Mine are all different colours because I’m a bit of a show-off, but don’t feel like you need to go as overboard as me. More importantly, know your limits! I can say with total confidence that Freshers’ week will not be the best week of university, let alone your life. Take it easy and try to make friends instead of going rogue – no one wants everyone’s first impression of them to be a heaving, vomit-covered wreck collapsed outside Bridge: you’ve got three years to do that.

Don’t be shy at the Freshers’ Fair! There’s some pretty wacky things out there, but one of them may turn out to be your new favourite hobby! As someone who represented two stalls last year, I don’t mind if you’re not interested, but at least hear us out instead of sprinting for the exit. Plus, if you sign up for a bunch of societies, you’ll be feeling popular af when you start receiving 100 emails a week from mailing lists!

Most importantly, make sure you are prepared for your first college bop! For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept of a bop, it’s like a year 7 school disco with fancy-dress – except the punch was intentionally spiked by the teachers. And they spiked it good. This is probably where you are most likely to get sharked (sharking, verb: where somebody in a higher year gets with a fresher), so be wary.

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Enjoy the rest of your summer! If you need more information, make sure you read Keep Off the Grass, Cherwell’s very own Freshers’ magazine when you arrive. I hear that their section on alternative sports is pretty damn entertaining.