The Beginning of the End: Freshers' Week as a Final Year Student

Our third-year welcome back lecture wasn’t particularly welcoming.

“It’s normal to cry,” we were told. “It’s normal to not be able to sleep because you’re worried about your essay.”

There were no slogan-shirted second years teaching us rude chants as we boarded a bus from our hall at 8.15pm; no corridor pre-drinks; no £20 costumes that end up smelling like sweat and vodka. Third year, it was insinuated, was a time for work, C.V. building and actually checking those books out of Hallward library instead of having little naps in the silent study area between lectures.

Lectures, of course, you have to go to now, as a third year student. “Sixty percent to get a 2:1!” they reminded us as spectres of 2:2s loomed, unspoken.

The thing is, despite all this, if I was given the chance to go back to first year and do Welcome Week again, I’d refuse it. Here are some of the reasons why you might have enjoyed this first week back in Nottingham more as a final year student than a first year.

1. THE PEOPLE AREN’T AS SCARY

As a working-class Welsh person, I was frankly terrified when I saw and heard the other students moving into my halls. They were Southern! They were posh! The girls had long hair and wore leggings and expensive sweaters; the boys dressed the way Radio 1 thinks all teenagers dress. I felt all rubbish and uncool and, maybe in a cliquey freshers’ panic (or maybe because I’m actually quite uncool), the post-gap-year, sporty girls on my corridor didn’t extend the hand of friendship. Close, exclusive groups formed early on. Where you sat in the dining hall was political.

Nowadays, no one can be bothered to be the Regina George of campus. Whenever I do talk to upper-middle-class students that I’d previously have been intimidated by, they seem like alright people. All the residual high school energy that lingered during that first year has disappeared.

2. NO F.O.M.O.

The Fear Of Missing Out is probably the dominant emotion you feel when experiencing Freshers’ Week for the first time. There’s a club night every night, plus pub quizzes, the final event with Example as well as society sign-ups. Then they’re all spread out before you and you just know that the one thing you don’t attend will turn out to be the Best Night Ever for everyone involved.

Third year has been a lot more fun in that respect. As a first year, I spent proper student loan money on a Baywatch t-shirt and went to Rock City on the first night of Freshers’, dancing to ‘Wake Me Up’ by Aviicii in an awkward way with my new acquaintances, and it was the most melancholy thing in the world. Last night, I watched ‘Legend’ at the Savoy, came home and ate a cheese sandwich while wearing a blanket.

It was more fun than literally all of first year put together.

3. YOU’RE NOT IN HALLS

One cool feature of my University Park halls were the tiny dead flies stuck to the shower-room ceiling. Every cubicle had them; the cleaners came in daily to mop and scrub and unblock, but the flies remained. Hall management sent out a feedback form for us a few months into the semester and the ‘PLEASE GET RID OF THE TINY DEAD FLIES’ message must have got through because, to be fair, the number did reduce.

But apart from the flies, there were the breezeblock walls; the tree that blocked any light into my room; the sad tasteless meals and the noise of the boy who lived above me blasting ‘Rather Be’ by Clean Bandit every morning on repeat. Student houses get a bad reputation, and often rightly so – last year it was so cold in my house you could see your breath, and quite often a slug would just come inside like that was an okay thing to do. Despite that, you can choose when to eat, and you get to leave campus behind you every evening, and you’re living with mates (rather than 200 loud Southerners).

 

 

In third year, you know what you like. (Ocean! The 36 bus! The baguette bar in Portland!) You’re secure enough to turn down a night out in favour of a sitcom binge on Netflix, and when you do go out, you know the cheapest way to do it and the comfiest shoes to do it in. So it’s okay if you’re a first year and your experience of Freshers Week has been like being stuck in an Edvard Munch painting. It (probably, kind of) gets better.

Sources:

http://www.savoycinemas.co.uk/img/savoy.jpg

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:University_Park_MMB_66_Willoughby_Hall.jpg