Freshers Week. I remember anticipating the reality of those two words with a mixture of nerves and excitement. Michaelmas term can be difficult, and the first week tends to be the focal point of all the worry and anticipation that starts building after results day. But there’s no need to be terrified – a little bit of practical preparation can help. And in terms of health and beauty, we’ve got that covered. First, some general advice…
Drinking. Most of us do it, and pushing yourself a bit hard, particularly during Freshers, is to be expected. You don’t want to suffer afterwards though – especially if afterwards happens to be a rainy 8am matriculation photo (been there, done that, not pleasant). For headaches, prevention is key – leave some water by your bed for when you get home. It’s obvious, but it really works! And have a banana with your drink: the potassium will help your body hydrate more efficiently. For nausea the next day, make sure you have ginger biscuits to snack on. They’re plain, and more importantly, the ginger will stop you feeling ill.
Food. You’ll probably have the option of catered meals – go for these in Freshers. The last thing you want to worry about is feeding yourself for the first time, and you’ll meet people in hall as well. When it comes to cooking, find healthy shortcuts – stuffed pasta or carton soup is a whole lot better than a pot noodle. Keep snacks around as well (dried fruit, nuts, cereal bars) since you’ll never have as much time as you’d like to cook. Oh, and get yourself a nectar card – you’ll soon be very familiar with Sainsbury’s!
Exercise. If you’re into sport, Cambridge is a great place to be – just about everything is catered for. But don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t happen immediately. Find what you like – college gyms are cheap, and there are lots of green spaces to run. Sport can be a great way to clear your head, but don’t forget to relax too. With deadlines, and a packed social-calendar, it’s sometimes hard to remember to take some space. Go for a walk, have a cup of tea, or just do nothing every once in a while.
Even with the best intentions Freshers’ Week (and, let’s be honest, most of first year) is sometimes just an exercise in masking exhaustion as best you can. The problem is, there never seems to be as much time as you’d like to get yourself looking your best, what with living by yourself, socialising, and assignments rolling in.
Swap make-up remover and cleanser for disposable wipes early on. You can buy exfoliating and cleansing types that do double duty to clear and clean your skin – I like Simple Kind to Skin Exfoliating Facial Wipes 25 pack [£3.25]*. Beyond that, moisturiser is your friend: try Neutrogena Visibly Clear Oil-Free Moisturiser 50ml [£4.19]. For the truly exhausted an eye-cream or roll-on can work wonders on a budget – go for Boots Essentials Cucumber Eye Gel 15ml [£1.50]. When it comes to the morning, dry-shampoo is a must – I use Batiste Dry Shampoo Tropical Coconut & Exotic 200ml [£2.99], which doubles as a perfume when you’re in a hurry. If your wear make-up, then make sure you’ve stocked up on your favourite concealer. Foundation, like Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse Foundation [£7.69], is a cheaper option than concealer since it lasts for ages.
Once things calm down a little, it’s time to give yourself a bit of a detox. A face-steam can work wonders to clear out your skin, and since all you need is a kettle, bowl and towel, it’s cheap too – add lemon slices or essential oil for added benefits. It’s probably worth exfoliating too (I like St Ives Invigorating Apricot Facial Scrub 150ml [£4.19]), and if you’re feeling really jaded, get yourself a sachet face-mask. They’re cheap, and work wonders when you’re tired – a Montagne Jeunesse mask, such as their Cucumber Anti Stress Peel Off Masque 10ml, costs as little as a pound. Tired hair can benefit from an oil mask or mousse too, on top of your usual conditioning – Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Light Aussome Volume Deep Treatment Mousse 150ml [£4.99] is my favourite.
First term can be intense, even when you’re prepared. If things go wrong, there is support available, and you’ll hear all about this when you arrive. Cambridge can be stressful, and you need to make sure you take the time to look after yourself. Just don’t worry too much – it should also be great fun!
* all prices are for Boots, which is the biggest shop for beauty products in central Cambridge