Freshers’ week. Your first week at university (be it red-brick or grey-concrete) is officially reserved for finding your feet, though they won’t touch the ground in this time. You’ll be lucky if you remember your own name and what A-levels you did, never mind anyone else’s. As such, lectures and classes are postponed until after this free-for-all known as freshers’ week. But these academic inconveniences can also be avoided all year long by misplacing your timetable.
5 Social Stereotypes to Look Out For
- The Lad/Ladette Easily identified because he or she will be constantly chanting: their location, what they’re drinking, what or whom they did last night…
- The Player/Queen Bee Unlike the Lad or Ladette they’re too controlled to be seen out on the lash. They will have already picked up a dedicated posse of hangers-on. Don’t panic; it’s mostly smoke and mirrors.
- The One Everyone Remembers from the Facebook Freshers’ Group Despite having added everybody on Facebook (often before arriving), they will go on to be as aloof as a heffalump.
- The Paparazzo Their Facebook albums rewrite and determine social history, so make sure you feature by photobombing every one of their shots.
- The Smoker Resolutely combats the awkwardness of forced social interaction by lighting cigarette after cigarette. Not so much aloof, as constantly outside.
Mainly for the convenience of others. But if you’re keen to pin down the etymology of the word, it derives from the American term for the first year of school, college or university: freshman (ie. baby-faced and, currently, uncorrupted). Only once you’ve made it into your second year will you understand why this title, like forgotten milk at the back of your fridge, is so hard to shake. You should also prepare to be haunted by the sinister catcall, ‘Down it, fresherrrr.’
WHY A FRESHERS’ WEEK?
This measure of time is again mainly employed for the convenience of others. In fact, the freshers’ ‘week’ can actually last from 3 to 14 days, depending on the social credentials of your university.
WILL I BE INITIATED INTO A STRANGE CULT?
If you’re headed to Oxbridge or a university across the Atlantic, quite possibly. But for the most part, freshers’ week consists of treasure trails, pub crawls, freshers’ fairs and sourcing takeaways. These are advertised as a way to ‘familiarise yourself with the place’, but this is a ruse. Whether you’ve arrived to find a labyrinthine medieval city or Manchester’s mile-long-straight of curry houses, it’s sociability, not orientation, that you’re being tested on during freshers’ week. You’ll meet a million people, so finding a few you can stand isn’t too hard. Err on the side of caution, though, and begin the week on a charm offensive. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression – unless of course you’ve spent the evening forging a friendship with somebody so drunk they can’t remember you the next day, even though they claimed to be your best friend.
SO I SHOULD BE WORRIED FOR THE SAFETY OF MY LIVER?
Although it’s easy to assume that the more you drink, the more of a student you are, staying a bit more sober than everyone else is a useful skill to cultivate during freshers’ week. The drunk who can’t remember what they ended up doing provides something for others to bond over, at the expense of his or her own exclusion.
WHAT IF I END UP BEFRIENDING LUNATICS?
As soon as you’ve established a group of friends (however superficial), you can afford to refine it. This is the only time in your life that it will be socially acceptable to abruptly stop speaking to somebody who, only a day earlier, was your best friend in the whole wide world but is today revealed as a loser. Make the most of it. When deciding who to hold tight, listen out for mentions of holiday homes and vast family wealth. Both are useful for obvious reasons.
MAXIMUM BLUFFING VALUE
Try at all costs to avoid freshers’ (bird/swine) flu, not because being bedridden with a hacking cough is unpleasant, but because you’ll take yourself out of the social running. See The Bluffer’s Guide to Hangovers for tips on how stay ‘healthy’, or, for overly persistent symptoms, your local GP. If you do miss freshers’ week, either because you’ve got a fever of 102˚C or you’re still looking for the launderette, familiarise yourself with these five social stereotypes (right) and it’ll be like you never missed the string of sweaty nights out in identikit clubs only distinguishable by the type of lino on the floor and the colour of the cheapest alcopop.
DON’T SAY ‘Hiiii, my name’s Sebastian. It might not sound like it, but I went to state school. Just wanted to clear that up.’
DON’T ASK ‘Oh, were you looking at my festival bands? Yeah, I went to Glastonbury, Latitude, Outlook, Worldwide, Leeds, Bestival…’
Look out for the full-length Bluffer’s Guide to University, coming soon!