Here’s Part 2 of my guide to your first year at university (if you haven’t read Part 1 yet, get off Buzzfeed and read it!), which in my opinion covers all the most important aspects of your Freshers’ experience in a detailed and serious manner. So, first things first: dressing up in funny costumes.
F – Fancy dress
There will be loads of events on during Freshers’ and throughout the year which have fun themes that allow you to dress up – anything from ABC (Anything But Clothes) to Come As Your Degree, so make sure you have a think when you’re packing about potential fancy dress items you might have lying around – you knew that pirate hat you bought for a party 5 years ago would come in handy again some day, right?
You don’t have to go overboard with dressing up, but equally everyone will notice if you’re the one who just hasn’t bothered, and it’s a talking point, as well as a way to bond with people when you’re getting ready to go out, so it’s worth doing! So definitely keep an eye out for those free events – there are also plenty of fancy dress companies in Southampton that give student deals, so don’t panic if you don’t have anything! (What do you mean you don’t have a Gandalf costume ready in your wardrobe at all times?)
G – Gym
If you’re a sports buff, love going to the gym 100 times a week (who even are you?) or just like swimming occasionally, Highfield Campus has a lot on offer to keep you fit. As well as the Jubilee Sports Centre, which is one of the biggest of any university in the country – memberships are £135, which allow you use of the gym, pool and other rooms in the centre – there are also lots of individual activities available. There are over 90 different sports clubs and societies available (have a look at my S post on Thursday), but if you’re not great at team sports and just want to get fit, groups like yoga and Zumba also meet regularly and are pretty cheap compared to what you might have to pay outside university for the same activities.
Now I’m not going to get all preachy on you and say you must stay fit for the entirety of your university life – trust me, this is coming from someone who spent a large part of last year watching Netflix and eating cake – but this is probably the only time in your life you’ll have so much available so locally, and for such a good price.
H – Help and Advice
Bit vague, I realise, but I was struggling for an H, and I wanted to get all the following information in somewhere. So university is supposed to be an amazing few years, and hopefully it will be, but there might also be times when things get a bit tough for you, and you need a bit of support. Aside from the University Health Centre which I mentioned in Part 1, there are also other groups within the university that can lend a hand when you’re feeling down. Steps 2 Wellbeing is the university mental health support centre, with which you can get into contact through the UHC – they’re very helpful, and when university is one of the biggest catalysts of mental health issues coming out in people, it’s important to have this line of support there.
If you don’t feel as comfortable about confronting people face to face about it, the university has a student-based Nightline group – you can call them up between 8pm and 8am and speak to a volunteer about your worries and problems and just chat to them to lift your spirits, talk you through issues and lend an ear – as their slogan says they’ll “listen, not lecture”, so don’t forget about people like them if you’re having a hard time.
As I mentioned in my Introductions post (below), staff are really important as a source of support when it comes to academic issues, but if you don’t feel confident approaching them, there are different levels of people who can lend a hand, from your Course Reps, who bring up students’ problems about the course with the staff in regular meetings, and your course Academic President, who runs these liaisons and is the main go-to for advice and problems you may be having, to the VP Education, who takes care of the more serious academic issues at the highest level of the university.
So remember all these resources are out there for support, and don’t let things get on top of you without reaching out for help, even if it’s just to a family member or friend.
I – Introductions
You should have some introductory lectures or meetings with some of the people on your course, so I’d say try to go to these if you can – it’s a great chance to meet loads of the people on your course, and to chat and get to know each other, and you’re all in the same boat. This can help you if you find yourself getting a bit homesick after you arrive, because the more people you know, the more comfortable you’ll hopefully be. Plus, if you know other people as well as your flat and block friends, you have more of a variety of people to spend time with in Freshers’ Week – if there’s an event you’d really like to go to, and your flatmates don’t fancy it, give your course friends a call and see if you can go with them. It’s a great way to bond and spread your wings a bit so you don’t end up living on top of your flatmates all the time.
These introductory sessions will also give you a chance to meet some of the staff on your course, which can be the first step in making yourself known to them and building up good relationships with them as the years go on – this is important, because if you’re ever stuck with your academic work, it’s good to be able to ask them for help and support (and try not to fall asleep in their lectures, that might not help this).
J – Jesters aka. The Palace of Dreams
It may not be as important as the other points when it comes to university life in general, but it’s a pretty big deal when it comes to student life in Southampton. After all, being rated the worst nightclub in the country is quite the accolade, no?
An expression you’ll probably become familiar with over the year is “Jesters shoes” – these are the cheapest not-ugly shoes you can find, which you wear Jesters any time you go. I’m afraid they’ll probably never be the same again after the first visit, and will remain inexplicably disgusting for the rest of their (usually short-lived) days, saving your favourite pair of Chelsea boots or high heels from this grimy fate.
There’s really only so much you can say about Jesters without actually going there – the music is fabulous, the drinks are cheap, the toilets are horrendous (I’m talking flooded floors and cubicles without doors), but the Palace of Dreams is against the odds very popular. I’d say if you’re not really into going out, or you’re wanting to do it more at university but don’t have much experience, this may not be the best place to start (that’s been my experience of it) – you’re under no obligations to actually go, and the disparaging but unfortunately overused phrase “OMG you’ve never been to Jesters” doesn’t mean you have to feel bad if it’s totally not your thing – but for lots of Southampton students, it’s one of their favourite nights out.
Come back tomorrow for Part 3: K-O (that’s a good one).