Thursday 6 September 2018

#DearFresherMe: An Introvert's Guide to a Successful Fresher's Week

Abi shares her experiences of Fresher’s Week, gives advice and reassures others who may be feeling anxious for Fresher’s Week.


Two years ago, I was so excited to be starting at university: I was enrolled on a course I was passionate about, in a city I had fallen in love with, and I couldn’t wait to start my new adventure. But, just like in every good story, there was an obstacle which I first had to overcome. For me, this was the dreaded Fresher’s Week.


I had seen all about it on social media: it was to be a constant state of drunkenness, obligatory going out clubbing every night, playing beer pong with rowdy lads in an unknown flat, bright disco lights and loud rap music belting out of the student hall windows, a lack of sleep: no escape from hardcore socialising for a good seven days straight. And God forbid if I didn’t partake; I would have no friends for the next four years. (N.B., I had never been to a pub in my life, let alone a house party or a nightclub. I didn’t even know what beer tasted like!) Given these preconceptions, it was no surprise really that the anxious introvert I am thought long and hard about whether I should even attend Fresher’s Week at all.


Nevertheless, in the end, I did attend – out of “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out) more than anything else. But, believe it or not, I actually really enjoyed the week! To reassure all those pyjama-loving introverts out there, here’s a snapshot of what I got up to in my first week at university: movie evenings with my flatmates, cupcake baking sessions, walks by the quay, brunch at Boston Tea Party, trips to Wilko followed by flat-decorating sessions and, of course, a mug of mint tea and an early night – every night. I neither went out clubbing nor attended a flat party once, and yet I still managed to make some great friends.

This said I do admit to being lucky to have had such like-minded flatmates. So, if my experience alone doesn’t put your mind at ease, just remember that all student societies run fresher taster sessions and events during the first few weeks of uni. So, even if you don’t quite bond with your flat, don’t fret! There are plenty of other opportunities to meet people which don’t involve loud music, dancing and excessive drinking. Hence, whether you fancy a picnic with Harry Potter Society, a board games evening with Games Society, a Yoga Society taster session, or an orchestra taster rehearsal, I can guarantee that Fresher’s Week will have something for you. In fact, I was surprised at the number of people I met at said society tasters who shared my social anxieties and who have remained some of my best friends to this day.

Rest Assured:

So, if all that you’ve seen on social media is making you anxious about Fresher’s Week, here’s some reassurance from someone who’s lived to tell the tale:

• There are plenty of fellow anxious-introverts; you just have to know where to find them (hint: that’s probably not at a night club). Try a yoga taster session or a Coffee and Cake Society social.

• Don’t put yourself out of your comfort zone just to become friends with the first people you meet. Next week you’ll find more like-minded people on your course.

• Last but not least, whilst other people might be great at pretending they’re having the time of their life, the truth is that everyone will have their ups and downs in the first few weeks. So, don’t kid yourself into thinking you’re alone if you’re finding it hard. Moving away from home and meeting new people isn’t easy, especially if you have a sensitive mind. It’s okay not to be okay. Contact your University Well-being services; they’re there to help you during the difficult times.

I’m Abi, a third-year Modern Languages student at the University of Exeter. I wish to use what I've learnt from my mental health struggles to help other students, as well as to break down the stigma surrounding issues to make it easier for people to speak out and seek help.

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