By Nathan Honest
Fresher’s Week is an exciting and unforgettable time for many young people, a right of passage that marks the transition from existing as a young adult at home, to existing as an independent adult at university. Over the years, Fresher’s Weeks have grown bigger and more spectacular, with events all over the country drawing in global stars. Here in Hull, the student union’s very own Asylum club hosted renowned YouTuber, rapper and former celebrity Bake Off contestant KSI in early October. However, Fresher’s Week can also be an isolating- or simply disappointing- experience.
Looking back, there was nothing particularly special about my first Fresher’s Week. Indeed, I was only half-aware that Fresher’s Week was even a “thing”; I was living at home and commuting to university, and I didn’t know anyone. Lectures hadn’t started, so I didn’t meet any of my course mates until the week after. The move from sixth form college to university was quite the culture shock, and whilst sixth form was not exactly a smooth ride, I did at least feel part of a close, tight-knit community. I knew everyone and everyone knew me. Yet suddenly, here I was, being tipped from a tiny goldfish bowl in to a vast ocean, and I had to learn how to keep my head above water all over again.
Did I make unforgettable memories? No. Did I meet friends who would stick by my side through thick and thin? No. Did I have lots of sex? Definitely not. Although, I was given lots of free pens and I bought a houseplant, so there’s that. One thing I did feel was loneliness, something that I’m not ashamed to admit has haunted me throughout my life. But the Fresher’s Week loneliness hit different. Being lonely is one thing, but being lonely whilst watching everybody else have the time of their lives is another thing entirely, especially when you were expecting that kind of experience too. This pretty much set the tone for my first year; I was far more shy then than I am now, so meeting people was hard. I tried joining a sports team, but I never felt fully welcome. Even when I did talk to people we tended to only meet once, swap numbers and never talk again.
It’s okay to not have a great Fresher’s Week. It’s okay to not go out partying every night. It’s okay not to drink. It’s okay to feel lonely. Your first experiences of university might not quite live up to your expectations or society’s expectations, and trust me, you won’t be the only person feeling that way.
You have three whole years.
You don’t have to make lifelong friends on your very first day, and you don’t have to find a society you totally fit in with in your very first week. If you’re living on campus, your flatmates now won’t be your flatmates forever (and you can request to move, if you’d prefer). You might feel lonely and overwhelmed during Fresher’s Week, but that doesn’t mean it’ll always be that way. I didn’t join the society I love the most (i.e., Hullfire, the one I’m writing this article for!) until my fourth year whilst I was studying for my Master’s degree. It’s never too late to join a society. There are a host of options available at Hull University and you can find one that suits you. As for friends, I had almost given up hope but then I met some truly amazing and wonderful people during the final year of my undergraduate degree and since then, I’ve come out of my shell and gained so much confidence. The only mistake I made was assuming, through lack of confidence, that people wouldn’t appreciate it if I approached them and invited them to things. The truth is, there are people at university who are looking for a person just like you. You’ve just got to get out there and find them. Fresher’s Week is not the be-all and end-all; your journey has only just begun.
You can find information on societies and sports teams available to join at: https://hulluniunion.com/