Forcefully swallowing down the imminent fears of independence, you head back to your flat after waving goodbye to your parents, the source of all knowledge for the previous 18 or so years, and basically your safety net. Now you are a fresh fish in the vast sea of student life, and everything seems much bigger than previously regarded. It can be hideously overwhelming in that one moment, so many possibilities, so many possibly dangerous consequences of your bold choice of future, and so many places to become familiar with. You find yourself plunged at the bottom of the social ladder again, and subconscious worries that you will end up as one of the avoidable crowd simmer beneath your distant hopes that father Christmas does still exist somehow.
Fresher’s fortnight is your opium; the window of opportunities it opened for me was extremely reassuring about my future in Leeds. Most of the people you meet in Fresher’s week are, or have been exactly where you are, and it is almost a comfort to see another person with the same panic stricken expression on their face. Many a people I met in my halls in the first walk of the building, in the vulnerability I felt five minutes after my parents had ‘abandoned’ me, or so I felt at the time. I made it a personal task of mine to introduce myself to anyone that I could corner, and everyone I spoke to was more than willing to make a new friend. My halls were 94 beautiful, good sized flats, shared between 4 to 6 people with either en-suite or shared bathrooms, just a five minute walk from Leeds city centre, and near a beautiful canal. Although it looked like a building constructed by giant lego pieces from the outside, I had one of the best years of my life in that building.
Embarrassingly, the Fathers paternal instincts had apparently disintegrated, and he had attempted to flirt with one of the girls in my flat in order to break the ice; however, it seemed to have done the trick. Within an hour I felt like I had made the right decision coming to Leeds metropolitan university, and the aforementioned situation provided a topic to laugh about with my new flatmates. I was lucky with the knowledge that one of my friends from home had joined me for the life changing experience in Leeds, and was also placed in the same flat as I was, ensuring that I already had one friend that I had an established friendship with. Taking this out of the equation, everyone made me feel comfortable, and within a couple of hours of making my room look acceptable, there were countless friendly strangers knocking on the door to invite everyone to their flat party. These flat parties were the instigators of almost all of my university friendships, and set the foundation for the fantastic two years I have had, and hopefully the next years to follow. I was always told that at university you meet the people that play the most important role in your life, and I believe that to an extent it is true, you are placed on the cusp of adulthood, and whomever you will meet will influence you to some degree, in the way you live your life. Therefore I believe it is essential for new students to participate in as many activities as they can within Fresher’s fortnight, and throughout the year, as the people you meet could be lifelong friends in the making. So grab your party hat and get involved!
At times I felt the overwhelming isolation of shyness creeping upon me, whenever this occurred I would take a respectful gulp of my drink, plaster a smile across my face, and head for the next victim to grill with the general questions. I soon forgot how scared I was when I found out that I liked the same bands, or films as whom I was speaking to, and found a topic that we both related to.
Social websites were also a great way to meet people not only in the same transition as I was making, but also people who I was actually going to spend a year living with, the groups I had joined on such websites propelled a trend of emailing other members with questions enquiring which university they will be studying at, which halls they will be crashing at, and so forth. All this is to enable new students to become familiar with the people they will be living so closely with, and carry out the basic norms of a beginning friendship before even meeting in person. Prior to beginning my drive to Leeds, I had arranged to pop over to the flat across the hall from mine with my new flatmates, for a coffee with a girl from Essex and her new flatmates, something that gave us more confidence to start our journey with, although the coffee somehow turned to pre-drinks…
Written by Charlotte, Leeds Met