For a lot of us, Freshers is our first taste of university life.
Yes, this is meant to be the beginning of us bettering ourselves through education, however what comes hand in hand with the lectures and the seminars and the hours spent trying to navigate the Portal (ahhhh Portal!) is the chaotic university social life.
And boy, there is nothing quite like it!
But this all begins with one week of free stuff, harassment by every society and sports clubs you can think of and a lot, like a hell of a lot, of alcohol… or at least that how it was for me.
But the alcohol isn’t what makes it an incredible week, oh no! What makes Freshers so special is the amazing people you will meet and the entirely random experiences you will find yourself having.
So here is my list of five experiences you will definitely have during Freshers…
The 4am Dominos Overload
One of the first things you will learn as a budding young Fresher, even before you learn your student number or any of your lecturers’ names, is the fact that Dominos in Stirling is open for deliveries until 5am. No, that is not a typo… I did in fact just say five, in the morning.
Despite the fact that earlier in the day you will have done about 8-10 laps around the atrium just to collect enough free slices of pizza to create your very own whole pizza (when really you weren’t that hungry, you were just excited by the prospect of an entire free pizza), you still get in at 2.15am from a Venue event filled with youthful optimism, neon face paint and other people’s sweat and decide that what you really need in that moment is a Dominos.
And not just your bog standard Dominos, oh no!
Because your student loan has just been dropped into your account and it’s a 50% off deal when you spend over god-knows-how-much, you feel like splashing out. Treat yourself, eh?
After half an hour of passing one person’s phone round your “living area” (cause to call it a living room would be generous) you review the order to find out that you and your flatmates have managed to work up a hefty £150 order from Dominos (remembering that this is with 50% off).
You hit “Place Order” and wait.
With every other Freshers flat having had the same idea and having got home from Venue at the same time, you wind up waiting an hour and forty-five minutes for your order – by which time you have already worked your way through all of your emergency tube of Pringles that you promised yourself you were only going “have a few of then put away”.
So you then dive into your large stuffed-crust pizza, two large sides and tub of Ben and Jerry’s you thought would be a nice refreshing pallet cleanser for your feast.
In this moment, all that pretense you had put on in front of your new flatmates until this point in the night (trying to convince them you are both fun and classy at the same time) falls away and see each other as you really are.
No matter if you are from lower England, Germany or even the occult Raploch, something magical happens at this moment to make everyone equal as we witness one another consume a kilogram of food with all the grace that an alligator has eating a buffalo in an Attenborough documentary.
You then find yourself lying across those who were strangers in your life a week ago, all being thankful for each other presence so you don’t have to face this great struggle of digestion alone.
Which leads us nicely on to the next experience you WILL have during Freshers…
The 5am Deep Chat
Now you are at the point where the night has wound down to a group of people in a circle in a room, either with some mellow acoustic music playing in the background or the sound of the flat above you still going hard with Avicii’s 2013 album on full blast.
Most of you are now at the point where alcohol in out of your system enough that you can hold a conversation but still has enough of a hold on you that you can’t help but share every opinion you’ve ever had about the nature of life, love and “our contemporary society”.
This is when you learn which people are “your people”.
You will find the people that you could talk to for hours on end without there being a moment of awkward silence and the people whose door you can appear at at 4am holding a DVD and bag of popcorn and know no words need to be said.
Not all of these conversations you will remember and not all of these nights will stick out to you as particularly special but what you will never forget is the feeling of possibility that is never stronger than during Freshers week at 5am.
Apologies for the soppiness (I put it down to the sad fact that as you new faces arrive I am no longer a Fresher and never will be again) anyway I will try to keep that to a minimum from now on.
Onward with the list.
The “Best Before” Epiphany
Unlike other universities, Stirling does not offer a catered accommodation option to any of its students.
This meaning that us busy students have to shop, cook and serve food for ourselves while juggling this huge undertaking with our busy busy studies – how very absurd a thing to be asked of us.
I am of course being ironic to self-consciously laugh at the easy life students have.
However despite this doddle of a life we are given in our first year, we still manage to waste more food than any other members of society.
It is the first week and you know you are going to need enough food to see you through seven hangovers.
Luckily your parents’ final act before they drove off into your past was to take you to the Tesco in town and fill up your cupboards with lots of fresh vegetables, bread and dairy products (all things that aren’t exactly known for their long shelf life).
But as mentioned before, the first month’s student loan is double the normal amount and has us feeling a bit loose-handed with our cash.
You’ve worked damn hard to get here, you worked your ass off in high school for the grades and hell, you just spent a summer working full-time hours to pay for your accommodation, so fuck it! You’re allowed to splash out on eating Dominos and chippies and the Union’s curly fries and the Union’s mac and cheese and the Union’s cheap pizzas and the Union’s mac and cheese bites…. I maybe lost my train of thought.
But all this time that you’ve spent treating yourself cause “hey, you deserve it!” you forgot and neglected that cupboard full of fresh food and now, nine days after arriving with this shopping, you learn that what is in your cupboard is no longer fresh and in some cases is no longer food.
Some food you never thought able to grow hair is now rocking a full mullet and other food has turned colours you don’t even think B&Q have invented a name for – maybe “disappointment purple” or “might-vomit magenta”.
So all that “fresh food” that was lovingly put in the cupboard by mummy and daddy on the day one now exits the cupboard for the first time and goes straight to the bin, then the bin is tied up and disposed of; this being immediately followed by two showers.
But showers can’t wash the memory of that hairy blue panini from your eyes no matter how long you stand under the hot water.
So it is this moment where we vow to never ever do a full family-sized Tesco shop ever again while at university.
The Pre-Determined Chant Agreement
So if you live on campus in halls of residence – as I’m sure many of you budding Freshers are – it is almost a guaranteed that you will either host or attend a flat party during your first week.
The flat will be tiny, everywhere will be crowded, you will get unbelievably hot and the music will be undoubtedly shit.
Despite all this you will love every second of it because this isn’t like high school parties that you need be home at a certain hour, nor is this like a group holiday in Ibiza or Malia that has a time limit on how many amazing night like this you will have.
No, this party represents the social life you are going to have the next four years of your life, it is unrestricted and so very full of optimism.
However these parties won’t be without their awkward embarrassing moments.
It will reach a point in the evening where it will be unanimously decided that a drinking game shall be played. Someone will bring out the set of cards they received in their Freshers bundles (possibly even an empty pint glass).
A circle will take form and someone will explain the oddly complex rules of a game that essentially needs to get people to drink at an average rate of a swig a minute.
However the game will escalate and you will reach a point where it is of course compulsory that someone must down a whole drink, because… y’know, uni.
So it will reach a moment where all discussions and protests about said downing of drink subside and one poor person has to raise a drink stronger than any alcoholic beverage should ever be to their mouth and it is at this moment the room divides.
Half the room will begin to stand and watch, then will be entirely shocked when the other half of the room burst into a chant that uses rhyming to encourage a speedier downing of a drink… because aren’t we an impatient bunch!
It is in these embarrassing moments that you will possibly feel more unprepared for uni than anything your lectures could possibly throw at you.
This half of the room that seem to know every word of every chant that comes up throughout the night make it seem like this night is your first alcoholic beverage outside quaint family gatherings.
However on the third or fourth rendition of “we like to drink with [person] cause [person] is….” you have picked it up quite easily.
You then go to a second party later in the night and are now joining in with the “in the know” side of the room while laughing at the innocence of the other half not knowing the words… let’s not mention that you were one of them 2 hours prior.
The Birth of the Flat In-Jokes
Within the first few days you will have made bonds with people you never thought possible in such a small amount of time and will already have things that set you guys apart from every other flat.
So much time will be spent lazing around and getting each other through some pretty rough hangovers that, as of course it would, jokes begin to be made over and over again and items in the flat slowly begin to represent more than just their primary function.
By the end of Freshers week these things will have shifted from little jokes to being iconic for your entire first year and the people you shared it with.
Whether it be a broken wooden spoon that convinces visitors your flat is a spiritualist cult, an A4 pizza brochure reading “stuff it in” that gets blue tacked to someone’s door when they have an evening visitor, or even a knocking pattern only you and your wall buddy (someone whose bed is on the other side of the wall your bed is up against) understand.
Over the course of the year these little things will build up to make your uni flat so unique and forge bonds that you will take with you for your next 3 years.
Your first year will fly so quickly you will barely have time to enjoy all these little things that make it so special.
Before you know it you will be moving out of halls for summer and have chosen your second year modules and it will quickly be dawning on you that the passage of time in these years is going to be merciless so you have to enjoy every little bit of it, whether it be a trip to Dusk when you are far too sober or even an eccentric lecturer running around to explain a camera technique.
Cherish it all and don’t take any moment for granted.