Freshers’ Week clichés (and how not to be one)

If someone asked a former student to rank the best times they had at uni, there’s a good chance Freshers’ Week would be close to the top.

As the first time away from home for so many students, it's a pivotal time with certain traditions and life lessons that have been happening for decades.

Whether you're starting out yourself or thinking back to your own uni days, here are some clichés that will bring on the Freshers' spirit. How many sound familiar? Which ones will you be avoiding when you arrive at university for your first term?

You'll never live anywhere like halls

If all you knew before university life was your bedroom in the family home, halls are a revelation. It's like a series of bedrooms-from-home, all next to each other, each one containing either the most amazing person you’ve ever met in your entire life so far - or the exact opposite.

You're all friends now, but wait until someone forgets to clean the microwave.

Then there's the neighbour who you'll see for the first time during a fire drill - never to catch the merest glimpse of them for the rest of your time there. And be grateful we live in a world of mobile phones. Before they were commonplace, there were queues to use the payphone.

Freshers’ Week rarely passes without someone, never too domesticated while at home, causing carnage in the shared microwave by heating something up in a way that defies all cooking instructions and, invariably, explodes. Do remember to use microwaveable bowls, pierce those film lids in a ready meal and whatever else you do, don't leave the spoon in the soup when you're heating it up for three minutes.

Still unsure about cooking for yourself? Have a look at these recipes, created with students' facilities (and wallets) in mind.

Let's go to the pub... in fancy dress!

Freshers can be as young as 17, so not every night out will involve alcohol.

However, for those who are old enough to have the occasional pint, Freshers’ Week involves the sorts of night out you’ve never had before, and perhaps ever will again.

Attending every single one of your 9am lectures really does take its toll.

The student union's the place where many of these adventures begin. They're cheap, provide entertainment (if you're lucky, Freshers’ Week involves a gig by a band you’ve already heard about, one with a single in the charts and everything) and a place packed with your peers, so always a decent stop on a night out.

Add Freshers’ Week into the mix and there’s a good chance a union night out will involve fancy dress, a foam party or perhaps even a combination of both. By the end of Freshers' Week, you'll also know if the union is going to be a place to frequent throughout your uni life, or if you’d rather do your own thing fun-wise. Whatever you choose is just fine.

It can't be stressed enough how important it is to look after yourself on a university night out. For further information on staying safe, check out this Bitesize article.

Need a pen? Try the Freshers' Fair

What better time than Freshers’ Week to sign up for all the clubs, teams and societies that fire your interest? If you’re a badminton player with a love for debating and passion for world cinema, there’s a strong chance a separate group exists for each of them and you could join all three on the same day. That’s one of the reasons a Freshers’ fair exists.

Another, although perhaps not why such events were formed in the first place, is the seam of freebies any keen new student can tap into. Free pizza is a staple of the Freshers' Fair!

Amble down to the Freshers' Fair for a slice... of extra-curricular activities.

Pens, mousemats, pens, mugs, pens, pads, pens and more pens, any student who attends a Freshers’ fair really has no excuse to be without a writing implement for at least the first term. Freshers of 2019, if you end up attending every society you sign up for (using one of your many free pens) throughout your university life, give yourself a pat on the back.

But by the time the Freshers’ fair does get underway, many students counting the pennies in a student loan may be looking for fresh sources of food. With many of these fairs providing free pizza for visitors, you can still keep the hunger pangs at bay, even if you don’t sign up to a Game of Thrones discussion group.

But if you do join a group of people with similar interests as yourself, it's a good way of tackling any loneliness or homesickness you may be feeling. If this is something that concerns you, this guide may help.

The dreaded Freshers’ Flu

Tens, possibly hundreds, of young people leaving home for the first time and moving in to halls together. Their diet perhaps taking a dive towards the unhealthy side, and sleep routines getting out of sync. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that it leads to some first-time students coming down with what’s known as ‘freshers’ flu’.

Freshers' Flu is not a valid excuse in third term, Dave.

It’s not actually flu. One NHS website describes it as a ‘nasty, cold-type virus’ which could be exacerbated by students from all corners of the globe sharing close quarters and encountering new strains of germs their immune system isn’t prepared for.

With it being a type of cold, there is no cure, more a case of settling down with plenty of fluids until it passes and taking the advised dosage of painkiller if you’re feeling any discomfort.

Prevention is always better than cure. Rather than put yourself in that position in the first place, the advice is to ensure your hands are kept clean before touching any surfaces which could be infected (for example, towels or door handles). Regular exercise and maintaining five portions of fruit and veg a day will also help.

Blowing your student loan in the space of an hour

At the start of term, particularly the very first term at uni, anyone taking out a student loan to help pay for life’s essentials will see a lump sum of cash landing in their account. A rather tempting lump sum.

Jeff struggles against the siren call of yet another morph suit.

You’ll hear many stories of people spending half their student loan in Freshers’ Week as the giddiness of a new life sweeps them away - after all, there are lunches to be had and essential box sets to binge on.

But it’s important to remember that a loan isn’t for one week - it’s to be spread over an entire term or even academic year. Get carried away and and the last weeks of term could be spent eking out every last penny just to afford a loaf of bread and a pint of milk.

This is one Freshers’ Week cliche it’s best to avoid. UCAS has lots of advice on freshers’ finance to make sure you start university life with your eyes open when it comes to cash management.

Whatever the cliches, the fact remains that Freshers’ Week is there to be enjoyed. Have fun with it, embrace it, but just make sure you come out the other end with your head, health and wallet intact.

Do you have any embarrassing Freshers’ Week stories you’d like to share? Tell us all about them (family-friendly memories only, please!) via the Bitesize Twitter account @bbcbitesize.

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