Life after Freshers' Week

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So how did your Freshers' Week go? We all know what it was supposed to be like. On camera, it's meeting your soulmate within minutes of arriving. Sultry clubs. Lots of swishy hair in slow motion. Sequins. Hands waving in the air. Fluorescent shots. Camaraderie and the thrill of being young and alive. All set to inspiring chart music.

But why trust films and TV shows? Britain's reliable tabloids had reporters salivating reliably all over Freshers' Week, flashing their incisive headlines at you whether you liked it or not:

'Vomiting, screaming and collapsing in the street'

'Students kick off uni with MASSIVE bender'

'Freshers get wet and WILD in some VERY inappropriate clothing'

But what if you forgot to pack your inappropriate clothing?  What if you didn't inherit the gene which allows you to vomit, scream and collapse all at the same time? What if you only like EU-standard MEDIUM benders?

At certain points, you might have been somewhere on the spectrum of slightly concerned/bored/crying in despair on the floor of your room/considering hitchhiking home. In any of these cases, you are not alone, just one of the silent many.

But now Fresher's is over, be careful not to be consumed by the hangover of worry and guilt that follows if you feel you didn't have enough/had 'too much' fun. A quick and unscientific survey of ex-freshers throws up the following concerns: 

I Don't Fit In

Fresher's inevitably involves a high degree of drinking, clubbing, entering rooms full of people you don't know, and trying to hold multiple conversations at the same time. If you don't enjoy any of these activities, you might come to the logical conclusion that you don't like Cambridge.

You may have already realised this, but Fresher's week is an anomaly. It's not representative of the rest of your time at Cambridge, and how much or how little you participated will not affect your future social life. So pull the plug on that worry. 

 

Is Everyone Detestable Or Is It Just Me?

What if by the end of Freshers' Week you still haven't met anyone you really like? Maybe no one at Cambridge is likeable.

Being an intelligent person, you might consider the equally horrifying possibility that you're the hopeless bore. Under pressure not to run out of conversation, youmight blurt out things like 'Ohmygodmetooo!! I can't get enough of Das Kapital. Beautiful syntax, really pithy.' Or sitting at a table of mathematicians laughing hysterically at a binomials joke you don't get, whilst sobbing on the inside. 

Everyone feels (to varying degrees) the pressure to make best friends, take part in every activity, drink a lot, and run a personality overhaul within the space of a week. It's reassuring to remember that there are historical precedents of similar mass hysteria, such as the Salem witch trials. Remember that, like the Salem witch trials, Freshers' and it's aftermath doesn't last long. So do yourself a favour and don't write yourself and everyone else off until you've all had a few weeks to take some deep breaths. 

 

Is It A Good Idea To Lock Myself In My Room And Work? 

You might have got through Freshers' week resisting the urge to dive back into the summer reading list that everyone seems to have read back to front, but now term has started and the reading lists have bred. 

There are now tens of books in your life all claiming 'required reading' status. They will whisper that you shouldn't leave your room until you've finished every single title. They will come to you in your dreams, mocking you for thinking you could get away with skipping Wildlife Motifs in Palaeolithic Japanese Teapots (how has everyone read it despite there being only one copy in the entire university?). Ignore them. 

Unlike at school, most Cambridge courses are designed so that you can never finish all of your work to the standard you'd like, or even finish it all. Accepting this will help you shake feelings of inadequacy that Cambridge is all too good at encouraging.

Over the next few weeks you'll discover that nearly everyone struggles with the feeling that they've done less work than everyone else, and that really only one person in the entire university can rightfully claim thatand you're probably not them.  

 

Will Everything Go Downhill From Here?

And what if you've done Freshers' week and had loads of fun. Is that it? You've heard Cambridge is going to be a lot of work so why are people encouraging you to take part in extra-curricular activities? Is it a trap? Shouldn't you be in the library 24/7, or at least feeling guilty 24/7 for not being in the library? 

The short answer is, Freshers' is not the last chance to enjoy yourself during term time, it's just the only time everyone will be telling you how much fun they're having all the time and how you should be too. Like Instagram, but in 4D. So don't fall for the hype. Now go and have fun.

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