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How to survive Freshers’ Week

Ah, Freshers’, a week filled with many new faces and places, and very little free time. How can you navigate this hectic period?

First, and most importantly, put yourself and your health first this week. Most of you won’t – I didn’t. But, be warned, I got a cold (or “freshers’ flu”) that made me sound like a hoarse Jordan Peterson for a week, and I had to run out of my first tute to have a coughing fit. You can preserve your mental and physical wellbeing relatively well if you avoid severe exhaustion. Club nights and other evening activities are amazing (and cheaper!) during Freshers Week, but missing one to get a good night’s sleep will not ruin your social prospects. Another great way to steal more sleep: nap! Your schedule may seem to be full of activities, but so many sports tasters, trips around town and in-college games aren’t compulsory. Don’t feel pressured to do everything, especially if you desperately need to rest. That being said, lots of these activities are designed to be fun, active and are thus great stress-relievers. Adjusting to a new city and uni life is incredibly overwhelming, so going on college-led walks to parks, participating in games, and letting loose at night can really help you relax and become more at ease with Oxford. In general, if you don’t throw sleep, self-care, and moderation to the wind, then maybe you won’t get a bad case of freshers’ flu.

Given that you most likely fall ill by the end of this week, try to have a good time before everyone in college is going through a pack of Lemsip a day! Freshers’ Week is full of exciting events. My advice: try a variety. Even if you don’t fancy yourself the clubbing type, go to one night and definitely hit up your college’s bop (the fun Oxford word for a chill fancy dress party, often in the college bar). You shouldn’t feel pressure to drink, and there is often a strong sober contingent who will come along. These will be a mix of second-year helpers or fellow freshers who aren’t keen on everyone’s first impression of them being tinged by alcohol-induced escapades. On the other end of the spectrum, if you are a keen partyer, indulging in some of the daytime activities, even a games or movie night instead of going out, is equally fun. The pub quizzes and scavenger hunts organized during my Freshers’ helped me meet a bunch of interesting classmates and were a great way to make friends. You might not meet some of your closest friends in Freshers’ Week but meeting people at events during the day allows you to party with people you know at night.

Freshers’ does not determine what societies you do or what your Oxford experience will look like. It is merely one week, and the first week at that. One of the biggest events of the week is the uni-wide Freshers’ Fair. All the clubs, societies, teams, and a variety of other groups from around Oxford will have stalls advertising their activities. Lots of free stash and food will be available as well, so it’s worth going, but don’t feel the need to stay too long. Many societies and sports teams will have open meetings and practices the first week, so the fair itself isn’t the only place to get involved. Freshers’ Week, like the fair, is just one moment in time. Both are fun, both help you become part of the university, but they are not the be all and end all. In Freshers’ Week, focus on enjoying yourself and adjusting to uni life and you’ll have an unforgettable time – and an amazing first term at Oxford.

Image Credit: Toby Ord/ CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia commons.

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