Sammi Cheuk, University of Bristol

 You’ve got your flight ticket ready, your packing done and you’re off to start a brand new stage of your life at university in the UK.  For the majority of people, it would be the first time living away from home. Everything is overwhelming and even the tiniest thing like talking to people seems daunting, but don’t worry this is all very normal. This is one of the main reasons why Freshers’ Week exists – to act as a stepping stone and to help you adapt to your university life more quickly.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Freshers’ Week before, it is the first week at university before all the lectures start. It is an incredibly exciting and busy time for all university students as it is packed with endless social events, new information and important administrative tasks to complete. It gives you the opportunity to meet new people and importantly the chance to get to know your flat mates better, as you will be living with them in the coming year. You’ll also be able to find out what your university has to offer before you need to get your head around lectures and deadlines.

Just as you, everyone around you will be very keen to make friends as they will all be new to being a university student. A great way to bond with your flat mates would be to go around together and explore what there is in the university or get to know the city better, such as what restaurants and shops there are. It would come in handy to know where the supermarket closest to your accommodation is and it might be a good idea to do grocery shopping with your new flat mates too if you are living in a self-catering hall.

 Some of you might be curious about what exactly goes on during Freshers’ Week. The events do vary in different universities but generally they are very similar. One of the highlights during Freshers’ Week has to be the Freshers’ Fair. You will see societies for almost everything and you will be able to sign up to the ones that interest you. It is undoubtedly a great chance for you to get out of your comfort zone, join some taster sessions and discover new interests. If you are worried about signing up for too many societies, signing up doesn’t mean that you are committed to being a member, it simply means that the societies can send you more information about their upcoming activities.

It is quite common for university-owned halls to host hall social dinners for you to mingle more with your hall mates. Having pub quizzes and film nights are usually some of the most popular activities in halls. You might want to make good use of this time and experience British culture while getting to know more people.

There are also events and information specifically targeted at international students, such as trips to other cities in the UK, usually places that are tourist attractions. If it is your first time in the UK, it is a good idea to join these trips to visit more places in the UK before you get too busy with work - you might even be able to meet other international students. On a more administrative side, having a UK bank account is very important for international students and their parents but this can be quite tricky to open when you have no idea what documents the bank requires. Don’t worry, your university will provide you will loads of useful information on how to open an account during Freshers’ Week, so don’t forget to keep an eye on that booth. There are also some other booths which can provide you with information like how to get to your lecture halls from your university hall and what to do if you are ill.
During my Freshers’ Week, I got to know my university a lot better, which has been a great help throughout my time there and I have met a lot of people from all over the world. Some of the activities which I have signed up for during Freshers’ Fair are the Archery Club, Rowing and Backstage Production. I have had a lot of fun and memorable times during my Freshers’ Week and I am very glad that I was able to make good use of it.

Some students decide to go travelling or stay in their home country for a bit longer instead of participating the Freshers’ Week. However, I strongly recommend you get the most out of your first year by joining these events at your university as they can really help you to adapt to your university life more quickly. It really does make a huge difference to your university life!