I have been here for three weeks and I have already managed to cause a fire in the microwave, burnt far too much toast and I can honestly say, my combination of korma sauce, tortilla wraps, cheese and fried eggs are a beauty when it comes to toastie making. The point is – When we come to university, adapting to this new life is not as simple as we had perhaps thought before we arrived. I don’t know about anyone else but I thought it would be pretty easy. The workload is already on top of me and I’m pretty sure if I go on eating this way, by the end of the year I will be morbidly obese with a face full of acne. Saying this, I have somehow (albeit narrowly) avoided freshers flu but there have definitely been some rookie errors. I mentioned setting fire to a microwave – it appears that putting foil in there was not the best idea – I felt sorry for the people in the kitchen! Funnily enough it was them that told me something along the lines of ‘err.. Alison’, one of them frantically running to switch the microwave off.
Oddly, there are actually a lot of freshers that cook good quality meals. I have observed home made burgers, stir frys (which I have actually made a couple of times – very cheap) and very tasty looking food made out of left overs. Particularly the latter proves that as a student you can save money and have a decent meal. I sit down one evening with my beans and cheese toastie (I know, it doesn’t sound too appealing but just wait until you try it) and a flatmate of mine is cooking a delicious looking pasta with a sauce made from scratch. I ask how this is made – Simply pasta with the sauce being made of egg, milk, cheese and seasoning I believe. I think to myself the sheer difference nutritionally between what he is about to eat and what I am eating. It dawned on me suddenly; do all freshers eat like me? It appears not. I am making a determined effort to cook properly in order to sustain a fairly healthy diet that I clearly had before I arrived at Southampton.
There is more to being a token ‘fresher’ than just living off beans on toast. There is the issue of alcohol – Whilst I haven’t spent a lot of money on alcohol, it is clear that some freshers must spend nearly all of their student loan on it. I have asked several students how much they have spent on the whole in freshers week and the majority of this seems to be on alcohol. Likelihood is, most freshers will spend from roughly £10-£40 a night on booze (depending on how much of a lightweight they are!), be it from the local shop, overpriced bars in Bedford Place or good old jesters with it’s famous 50p watered down pints of strongbow or fosters, or perhaps the infamous ‘jesticle’. Now that freshers is over, people appear to be budgeting more and drinking less, which is always good considering we pay a significant amount of money for the degree we will (at least for most of us) obtain. There is no doubt that at least once a week, many of us will be spending a shocking percentage of our student loan on alcohol, but is this necessarily a bad thing? Some might say that’s what freshers is all about whereas others may find it absurd.
Whilst the first week of freshers was spent most probably sleeping or being hungover in the daytimes for many, as second week began, so did lectures. As a politics student myself, I have roughly nine contact hours per week and a heck of a lot of reading to go with that. For instance, one of my modules requires eight hours of extra reading. I have spoke to students of various other disciplines, notably Medicine, engineering and the sciences whom would look upon a 20 hour week as some kind of ‘gift’ – In comparison I feel quite lucky however the reading is very hard to keep up with. As we speak, I am already behind. As second week went by, I looked around and talked to others; everything became a lot more work-orientated. I live in a flat of students who clearly work hard and want good degrees but there must be some slackers who will happily take the 40% pass mark needed for first year. On the whole, it appears that an increasing number of students strive to get first class honours degrees – definitely not a ‘freshers mistake’.
We may drink excessively, cook (or microwave) food that isn’t of a high enough standard and yes, this does including eating food that has passed it’s use by date. We may make mistakes sometimes but with the majority of us wanting to do well in life and get a good degree from an exceptional Russell Group University, I think it is safe to say that as freshers, mistakes don’t matter. We are the next generation.