My Freshers’ Week Regrets | Top Universities

My Freshers’ Week Regrets

By Sabrina Collier

Updated August 14, 2018 Updated August 14, 2018

It might sound cliché, but sometimes I wish I was a student again. Specifically, a bright-eyed, 18-year-old fresher with three years ahead of them full of opportunities to enjoy university life, become independent, have new experiences and meet new friends. Although I enjoyed my time at uni, I do wish I’d done things a bit differently in freshers’ week. Here’s what I’d change if I could go back and do it all again…

Letting anxiety* hold me back

*By anxiety I mean the emotion rather than the mental illness.

I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on Past Sabrina: it was a nerve-racking time, and it’s completely understandable for 18-year-old me, who had never lived away from home, to be nervous about moving into a flat of strangers in the remote town of Aberystwyth in Wales.

Luckily, I already knew Aberystwyth well from family holidays there, and it’s a small town, so I knew I’d be fine on that front. However, this didn’t stop me from having a brief cry on my very first night in my new room, right after I’d hugged and said goodbye to my family. I was feeling completely overwhelmed.

To make things more difficult, I was not only sharing a flat (and tiny kitchen) with about 20 other students, but also sharing a room with a complete stranger. This sort of arrangement isn’t normal at UK universities but that year Aberystwyth had accepted more students than they could accommodate, meaning some of us were put in single rooms with bunk beds. I eventually got my own room in November.

I had my bunk room to myself for the first few days until my roommate arrived. I remember coming back to my room and seeing she’d moved all her stuff in, and it suddenly felt very real to me that I was sharing a room with a stranger. She was everything I’m not: self-confident, popular, streetwise. She was from London, very outgoing and made friends with everyone else in the flat really quickly, whereas I’m from a village, and quite shy.

She was friendly, but we never bonded, so I felt a little left out when I could tell she was bonding with some of the other girls in our flat. Of course, this is probably my own fault, as part of the way you bond with your flatmates in freshers’ week is by going out, which I didn’t do a lot.

Missing out on nights out

Going back to my first night, before my roommate had arrived, I remember feeling very intimidated by the sheer number of people in my flat and how loud and excited they were. It’s embarrassing, but I remember hiding in my room while they were laughing and drinking together in the hallway. I remember thinking I should go out and introduce myself, but I couldn’t bring myself to. Eventually I came out to the kitchen to make tea after they’d gone. Another girl also appeared, a really friendly Swiss girl (with her own room…jealous) who said she felt the same way, so we bonded over our mutual shyness. She was really into horse-riding, so a while later I went to the first Riding Club social with her…despite not being a horse rider.

Why didn’t I go out? It was a combination of feeling unsure, not being that into drinking at the time, and um…forgetting my I.D. Yeah. I don’t really need to tell you to remember to take your I.D. to university. Luckily, I got it back pretty quickly, but the first time I went for a drink with my flatmates, the bartender was very reluctant to serve me.

A much more trivial thing to regret is the fact I didn’t get an “Aber Fresh” t-shirt, something every Aberystwyth fresher got that week by attending the themed freshers’ nights. The photos of you and your flatmates, drunk yet happy, on your first nights out at university are ones you can look back on for years to come. Don’t get me wrong, I still have some interesting photos from first year, but I don’t really have any from freshers’ week.

I eventually went out on the Friday of freshers’ week, to the Students’ Union. It’s embarrassing to admit, but it was the first time I’d ever been to a club, so it was a new experience for me. I remember asking my flatmates: “Is the music meant to be so loud you can’t hear yourself think?!” Of course, not having been out as a sixth former made me a socially awkward drunk who thought it was cool to write drunk Facebook statuses, and generally say a lot of stupid things - *cringe*.

If you don’t want to go out and you’re not into drinking, you shouldn’t feel pressurized to do so, but, despite this, I definitely feel as though my shyness and nervousness made me miss out on the typical freshers’ experience. So, if you’re not into nights out and boozing, don’t worry: it’s natural to feel anxious, but don’t let that feeling stop you from getting to know your flatmates and meeting new people (there are plenty of ways to do so that don’t involve drinking).

I gradually came out of my shell a bit more as time went on. The thing to do in first year was to go to Cwrt Mawr bar (yeah, I don’t know how to say it either) first to get a stamp for free entry to Mad Fridays at the Union, and this was my favourite night out. Even though, to all intents and purposes, it was just a standard club night, with no special gimmicks or themes, the drinks were cheap, the music was good and I had a lot of fun.

I wish I’d let go of my fears and thrown myself into the uni experience, but at the time it’s difficult, especially if it’s the first time you’ve ever lived away from home for such a long amount of time. Obviously, it’s great to meet new people and I enjoyed chatting to people in my flat, but on my moving in day I remember walking through the kitchen with my mum, past at least a dozen strangers. It was a little daunting and I exchanged some awkward hellos, worried they were about to comment on me as soon as I’d left the room.

Final thoughts

Basically, the point I’m making doesn’t just apply to freshers’ week, but to life in general: don’t let fear or anxiety stop you from doing anything you want to do, whether it’s studying abroad in a faraway country with a culture completely different to your own, or simply trying a sport you’ve never tried before at uni. Go for it. The more you get out of your comfort zone, the more memories you’ll have to look back on from your time at university.

This article was originally published in August 2017 . It was last updated in August 2018

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