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7 Mistakes to Avoid

Your parents drop you off in your new room with teary eyes, as they grant you your final piece of independence. You've been looking forward to starting university all summer – the freedom, the course, the new people! But how can you make the most of Freshers' Week?

Freshers' Week is a chance for you to form foundations of friendships that could potentially be lifelong, and to settle into your new home. So, what mistakes do you want to avoid?

Freshers' Week Oxford
I was this year's Head Frep (freshers representative) with my friend Jake for our college (St Hilda's Oxford), so I've sort of done Freshers' Week twice!

Freshers' Week Mistake 1: Staying in your room

Freshers' Week is very scary, and it's very easy to just stay in your room.

When I first arrived at my college room all the doors were closed and I was scared. No one seemed to be around, and I didn't know what to do. My best tip for this situation is to invest in a doorstop and keep your door open whilst you're there, at least for the first couple of days. This invites people to come in and chat to you, meaning you can meet your flatmates.

You will likely get a timetable full of events – go to them! Although lots won't be compulsory, it is so much easier to meet people doing things than just locked in your room. Also, if you are feeling homesick and wobbly, as I was for the first couple of days, doing stuff will take your mind off it.

You can also go and do things by yourself, such as a run, or the gym, or practising an instrument if you play one. Although it's good to socialise, it's natural to need some time out.

But try and don't just stay in your room, as you may begin to overthink and feel lonely. I would definitely recommend going out and exploring!

Oxford Freshers' Week
In Freshers' Week we had a free morning, so I went and explored Oxford with two girls I had met the night before.

Freshers' Week Mistake 2: Missing out on events, such as Freshers' Fair

Definitely go to all the events you can in Freshers' Week, especially to your uni Freshers' Fair! This is your chance to join societies to your heart's content.

You can get involved with anything from student politics to a tea appreciation society. From ball committees to live medieval battle reenactments.

This is not just something that will help you in Freshers' Week, but also through all of your first term at university. Societies, sports teams, clubs, orchestras, choirs, and productions are all brilliant ways to meet people!

freshers' fair freshers' week
There is so much variety at Freshers' Fair so make sure to make the most of it! Also, it's a great opportunity to get some free food and stationery!

Freshers' Week Mistake 3: Eating alone

If you are in catered accommodation, or a colleges with a dining hall, try to go and eat there as much as possible! This is an opportunity to interact with people from different corridors and accommodation blocks.

dining hall freshers' week oxford
An Oxford College Dining Hall.

If you are entirely self-catered, see if some people you live near want to cook with you. This is a nice chance to get to know each other and use the communal kitchen space. You don't want to end up eating some sad pasta alone in your room!

Freshers' Week Mistake 4: Getting too drunk

Lots of Freshers' Week revolves around partying, and although it's good to have fun and meet new people, I would definitely recommend moderation-at least for this week, for a variety of reasons:

  • You don't want to be in a potentially vulnerable situation where you don't know many people.
  • You also don't want to make a fool of yourself out in front of a new group of people.
  • You don't want to forget every conversation and name you've learnt the day before, as it's just a bit embarrassing!
  • You don't want to have to have that embarrassing FaceTime with your parents at the weekend where they're keen to hear all about your first week at uni and you realise you don't remember any of it…
kermit freshers' week
You don't want to be like Kermit the frog at the end of Freshers' Week!

Also, in Freshers' Week there are lots of ways to meet people besides socialising in a bar. If going out drinking is not for you, most universities will organise other things for you to do in the evenings, so there is no pressure.

Freshers' Week Mistake 5: Talking about your gap year all the time

There is a habit to gabble to impress people in Freshers' Week, talking about all the many things you've done (such as having the story of your gap yaah in India on repeat to everyone you meet). Remember, you are not trying to sell yourself to everyone!

There is no point going around with a checklist of things you want to tell people to impress them, because it's really forced. Instead to just engage in normal conversations and get to know people. There is no rush, and everyone is as nervous as you!

Freshers' Week Mistake 6: Being closed off all the time

Most importantly, you should go into Freshers' Week with an open mind.

You will meet a diverse range of people, and it is important to try and get to know as many people as you can. There's no point limiting yourself to just a few people when there is such a wide range of people to meet and friendships to form.

Everyone you meet will be different, with different interests and backgrounds, and it is important not just to cling on to people like you, or people you might know from school.

Try and be open to new people, put yourself in situations where you get to know different people, and try and not to be closed off to anybody before you truly know them.

Freshers' Week Mistake 7: Putting too much pressure on yourself and the friendships you make

Remember that, if you find Freshers' Week hard and you feel you haven't met any long term friends: that's okay!

It is only a week and it is a very unrealistic representation of the real uni living. You can't expect to become best friends with anyone immediately, so give everything time and don't stress too much if you still feel a bit lost at the end of Freshers' Week.

matriculation Freshers' Week
Me and some friends matriculating. This happens at the end of Freshers' Week at Oxford University.


The 7 mistakes to avoid if you want to enjoy Freshers' Week, in my opinion, are:

  1. Staying in your room all the time: invest in a doorstop and make your room welcoming!
  2. Missing out on events, especially Freshers' Fair: there are loads of great opportunities.
  3. Eating alone: try and eat dinner and lunch in a social environment.
  4. Getting too drunk: enjoy yourself, but try not to be too excessive in Freshers' Week as it is a new environment.
  5. Talking about your gap year all the time, and trying to sell yourself to people: instead, just get to know each other.
  6. Being closed off all the time: be open to new things and people.
  7. Putting too much pressure on yourself and the friendships you make: remember, it's only one week and all a bit forced.

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