A LETTER TO THE CURRENT FRESHERS’

Natasha Mae reflects on her freshers' experience and why it is a once in a lifetime experience.

Welcome, University Newbies! Making your way to Uni can be a daunting experience, but do not let that force you into hiding, questioning whether you should have repeated A-levels. University is one of life’s opportunities I can guarantee you will not regret (apart from the all-nighters that will happen on many a shameful occasion). As a student going into the third year, I felt it necessary to share my Fresher experience, so here it is: I sucked at being a fresher. I, instead, found myself becoming a fresher later in my degree rather than at the only acceptable time you are ‘allowed’ to act like you have no idea what’s going on (in truth, no-one ever really knows what is going on at Uni). The only activities I found myself engaging with were the compulsory academic start-ups and book sales, and with not being a huge one for parties (which I can say now for anyone who feels the same… that will change), I found Freshers’ Ball was enough to get me started on the supposed student nightlife.

Here are some other things to consider as you transition to a very different student lifestyle:

  • When you meet your new flatmates, everything will seem like a ray of fresh sunshine, but it will not always be – You will tell yourself you need to clean the dishes, but really, they will sit there for a week. That, and no-one ever wants to take the rubbish out so be prepared for the smell of rotting food and sour milk.
  • Circuit Laundry will also take money from you like a thief, so GET THE CARD – it is a trustworthy friend.
  • You may believe your new lecturers will not pay attention to who is in class, but oh boy they do. They may not know your name, but they know your face.
  • Don’t risk missing important meetings because someone found Imagine and the amazing bubble tea two minutes before class.

But, not everything is chaos at the start. Within a day, you’ll find a person who will become your third hip all throughout uni. You’ll find mutual struggles with peers, and often those peers will be there with you when you need a helping hand. You end up having a very quick realisation that Uni is not as scary as it’s made out to be, and now that you are a place away from home, you can live your full potential. But most of all, some of the best memories you will ever make will take place during freshers’ week.

Something I highly recommend doing is attending the freshers’ fair at the sports hall. This is a fantastic way to discover what the Uni has to offer AND it’s even possible to make new friends and network in the short time it takes to get through the end. Not to mention, you are given many, many, many, fun and delicious freebies (who doesn’t love a freebie, especially on a student budget). Aside from the security of being on campus, take the time to explore the local area too. Windsor is five minutes down the road and the cheap shopping centre known as Staines is only a bus ride away. You don’t always need to spend a fortune in London. Alternatively, take a picnic to Virginia Waters and explore their numerous gardens (or the Uni pond by Founders is also pretty neat).

As the Societies and Sports Editor, I can’t welcome you to Royal Holloway without mentioning how epic our extra-curricular activities are. You’ll not often get the opportunity to let loose and have fun outside of work when you graduate, so while you have the chance I highly encourage you to check out some available happenings. I myself have been in multiple societies: History Society, Harry Potter Society, Comp Sci, and Ballroom & Latin Dancesport. Joining a society or sport isn’t only one of the best ways to make friends and relieve yourself from the stress of deadlines and lecture theatres, but also to harness new opportunities, adventures and interests. Thought you hated political debates? Think again. Thought you were no longer allowed to run about in the mud and tackle people? Well, the Uni invites you to. Whatever you find thrilling, I guarantee you’ll find it available here. Now is the time to try something new and take a leap forward in the world of adulting and decision making.

So, as the week commences, I welcome you whole-heartedly to Royal Holloway and hope you find yourself feeling at home. Remember – as an official ‘Roho’ student, you’re now entitled to brag continuously to your loved ones that you live in a castle. It is Hogwarts!