The excitement of turning over a new chapter in your life and moving out of your house for university is incomparable. There’s a reason why people talk about first year as the most fun and enjoyable section of your degree (and its not only because the workload is the lightest it will ever be). Being a fresher is something to be celebrated, clearly. The start of a new adventure, the first meeting between friends you may be in contact with for the rest of your lives, and most importantly of all, the financial independence you have always craved. Luckily for you, your Union (as well as the enormous selection of clubs and bars in the Southampton area) have got you covered, with an assortment of booze-fuelled rave parties guaranteed to leave you with a sore head for the first month of lectures. Clearly, they want you to have a great time at university too; the £1 shots all but confirm it!
But no. Actually, in this writer’s opinion, these events are cynical and overblown, designed to leech off of the festivity of the fresher community. They were assembled on a lab table, the main ingredients being the steady flow of cash from newly-opened 1/2/3 accounts and the unshakeable peer pressure of ‘going out and getting wasted’ during the initial weeks of university. There’s a good reason why there seem to be more and more events with every passing year – word spreads, and by now every nightclub in Southampton knows just how lucrative these overpriced Fresher’s parties can be. If you’ve seen one of these parties you’ve seen them all: neon lights, dry ice and a house DJ whose name sounds like a move you might teach a Pokémon, and you’ve got all the components of a bland and expensive night out in Freshers.
Now, you might be thinking: “But hey, drinks are cheaper so it’s good value for money”. That may be so, and if you’re sensible you can attend a few of these parties without seeing a significant loss from your bank account, but the real issue is not what you pay for once you go inside – it’s what you have already paid for. When you shell out way more money than you should just because Switch is promising a giant inflatable giraffe and that dude off of The Only Way is Essex, you’re subscribing to the façade. Truth be told, can anyone honestly say that these events are any more fun than a standard night out? You’ll probably choose to forget half the night anyway, depending on how much you drink and what feats of superhuman prowess you convince yourself you can achieve whilst doing so.
It may be overly-cynical of me to suggest that not one of these events is worth going to, and certainly, I’m not saying that you should avoid every single one of them. What Freshers teaches you – an invaluable lesson for the entirety of your time at university – is to be selective with your money and not feel like you should have to shell out for every cheesy event just because all of your flatmates are doing so. Variety is the spice of life, or so they say, but that doesn’t really refer to how many times you can pull off that sweaty lion onesie just because it cost £50 and you know you can’t return it. Remember that university is about so much more than all of these Freshers parties, and that being conservative with your cash can allow you to do much more enjoyable and memorable things like going on a trip to a beautiful foreign country, or joining a society to partake in once-in-a-lifetime activities.
A lot of people tell me that my kind of attitude reeks of that unbearable, preachy old man-smell. Truth be told, I have never thought much of these crowded, noisy parties, so I’m hardly going to believe that they’re a worthwhile thing. That said, I’ve met enough people who complain of diminishing funds and an endangered overdraft, and they all seem to have one thing in common… Having fun in Freshers is important, but you also need to be careful, or these predatory parties will snatch you up and wring you dry.