Can we take a moment to realise that my time as a fresher was four years ago. God, I feel old. What I would do to relive that year all over again. It was the craziest, best, up and down, most memorable year of my life. This year’s influx of freshers are arriving into Liverpool over this weekend and I’m just not ready for all of these baby-faced, wide-eyed, eighteen year-olds to be let loose in my locals, which will very soon become their locals. As long as I can still get a table in McCooleys, I’ll be ok.
It really is weird seeing how young they all look, but when it was my turn as a fresher, I definitely didn’t feel as baby-faced. We never do though, do we?
Welcome to another new series on my blog, yes another one. Every Friday I hope to have five things to share with you, but I hope to make them super useful! They will be career focused, PR focused, and maybe even some personal ones. They won’t be full of useless content, that I can assure you. I always try my best to provide content that you can make use of, learn something from or take something away from.
As the new academic year rolls around – I’ve moved New Years to September – I thought it would be helpful to talk about five things you will need as a fresher. Of course, you’ll need many things, but here are the top five.
1. A deck of cards
The most important of all. I kid you not. You have no idea what lies ahead of you when it comes to drinking games. I would guess you aren’t prepared for the sheer amount of them that you’ll be playing either. Plus, when there’s drink involved, you can always bet someone is going to spill their drink (or yours) everywhere so it’s always vital there is a back-up deck to keep the games going.
If one thing represented my first year in halls, it would be a deck of cards. Pre-drinks are a huge thing for a first year. The drinking games being the best part. I can guarantee you will get into an argument over ‘Is it Kings or Ring of Fire?’
You can find decks of cards available from most pound stores.
2. A portable speaker
Again, for pre-drinks. Why do you think your first year of university doesn’t count towards your final grade? They know you’ll be spending the majority of your time partying, that’s why.
You’re in a new city, away from your parents, living on your own terms, so of course you’ll go nuts. They will honestly be the best nights of your life, you’ll make so many new friends and have a lot of stories to look back and laugh about in the months to come. But you will learn a lot in your first year at uni, just make sure you make the most of it.
I would recommend this JAM Audio Double Chill Bluetooth Speaker that I was kindly gifted to try out and it’s been a hit at the few pre-drinks that I have hosted in my own flat so far – I’m a sensible final year now, no more acting like a fresher for me. Plus it has 12 hours of playtime which is ideal!
3. Savings or a student loan
I would completely recommend (if you can afford to) not getting a part-time job during your first year at university. You will only get major FOMO and dread going to work when your flatmates and friends are heading out. I’m going to let you in on a little secret that not many people know. During my first year I got a job in McDonald’s and lasted four shifts before the FOMO set in and I felt like I was missing out on too much. My short stint of working the fries department didn’t make it onto my CV as you can imagine.
You will never get your first year at university back again, so my best advice would be for you to make the absolute most of it, make a Bucket List, say yes to as much as you can and leave your comfort zone.
Be smart with your spending and try your best to budget every week. When I first started cooking for myself, I mostly lived on toast and cereal as I didn’t know how to make much else. I quickly learned that I had to adapt and feed myself because I couldn’t spend the rest of the year eating loaves of bread or living on takeaways. My best advice would be to shop in places like Aldi or Lidl, make large meals that you can eat over a few days and cook in groups when you can. Dominos always had student deals when I lived in halls, so if you budget right, you can maybe splash out and the whole flat can have a pizza night once in a while. Not every week like my flatmates and I used to do.
4. A gym membership
You might be fortunate enough to live in halls of residence that has a gym on-site, but if not and like me, attend Liverpool John Moores University, you are very lucky to receive free off-peak membership at Lifestyle Gyms, and there are a lot of them based all over the city so that the entire university aren’t using the one gym. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to swing a kettlebell without injuring someone. If you want to go after the off-peak times, you can upgrade for only £9 per month. I mean, I used to pay £60 per month for my gym membership in London so £9 per month is nothing in comparison!
I’m sure you’ve been warned about ‘fresher weight’ since you will mostly be living off pot noodles, takeaways and alcohol. Everyone will expect you to pile on the weight, as the majority of freshers tend to do. Myself included. It was only in my second year that I realised I had to do something. So, putting on a few fresher pounds may not be the end of the world.
If you are headed to the gym though, I would recommend these (eco-friendly) House of Marley Uprise Wireless Earphones that I’ve been using all week since I received a sample (yes I’ve moved back into the gym – finally!) and love them so much! Now I just need to get my hands on a FitBit for that extra bit of motivation – please send suggestions my way for the best (reasonably priced) ones you’ve tried!
5. Home comforts
You’re going to be living away from home for the first time, and inevitably, you’re going to miss it. Bring some photos of your friends and family, maybe some posters from your bedroom, a pillow or teddy that reminds you of home, or anything that gives you comfort.
The first thing I recommend you do when you move into your new room is to make it as homely as possible. This will be your sanctuary for the next year. You’ll sleep in it, do your work in it, watch Netflix, shower, get ready, be emotionally hungover, eat, be homesick and spend more time than you think in your room. The worst thing you could do is have it resemble a prison cell.
Make sure your personality comes through in your room or you’ll hate it, hate spending time in it and could end up hating your time at university because of it. I kid you not. I loved my room in halls. It was my safe haven where I could shut off from everything and be by myself. I had my ensuite, my desk, my bed and everything I needed. My room was incredibly pink, had a lot of posters, my timetable on the wall, pictures of my family and friends and things that made it feel like home.
Aside from the obvious essentials like bedding, cutlery, towels etc. etc. these are five things that you should also have but may not think of. If you are starting university next week and feel nervous about the next year and years ahead, you are about to embark on the best journey of your life.
I’m gutted that I’m now going into my fourth and final year and would do anything to go back to first year and relive the whole experience. Make the most of your time at university because it will go by in a flash and you’ll be in your cap and gown before you know it.