Looking After Yourself During Freshers' Festival

With the help of some returning students, VP Welfare & Diversity is here to give some top tips on how to successfully navigate Freshers' Festival.

So you’re a fresher?

To start off, welcome to Royal Holloway and what will hopefully be some of the best and most developmental years of your adult life!

Freshers’ Festival can be an intense and stressful time for anyone, new and returning students alike. So don’t worry if you’re feeling anxious or unsure of what to do because it is completely normal. On my first day here, I spent two hours hiding in my room before I was able to work up the courage to introduce myself to my neighbours in Founder’s. What was immediately evident was that we were all equally terrified, none of us quite knew what was happening or where to go. And that was totally okay. So here are a few tips for you to survive the next week or so:

Lucy's top tips

  • Breathe, you will be okay. When you’re feeling stressed remember why you wanted to come here, and remember that this week is for you to have some fun and meet new people before getting stuck into academic life.
  • The University and SU are running loads of different events to get you started with socialising and finding your feet so don’t forget to check out our events programme here and the College’s schedule on the Student Intranet.
  • Freshers’ Festival is often associated with getting drunk and going wild. But you don’t have to. There are loads of events that are alcohol free throughout the week, which can be found by selecting the ‘Alcohol-Free’ tag on our events page and you’re more than welcome to come to the ones with alcohol and not drink. Having fun on a night out (or in) does not mean having to get drunk and you are in complete control over that decision.
  • Take some time to just relax. Have that lie in, read a book, go for a coffee with a flatmate or just make yourself a cup of tea. Pace yourself, you don’t have to go out and socialise every minute of every day in order to have a good time and make friends. The first people you meet may not be the people that you spend the rest of your time with. You will naturally meet more people throughout the year, so if you don’t immediately click with your flatmates, that is absolutely fine.

But don’t just take my word for it...

Returning students' top tips

1. Go to things even if your flatmates or course mates aren’t. You will meet people don’t worry.

2. Joining a club or society is an automatic way to make pals with similar interests. Go along to as many taster sessions you find interesting or even something you’ve not tried before because you might love it! You can check out the full list here.

3. Try to make friends with those in your house/flat during Freshers’ Festival - it will definitely help later on.

4. Sleep, hydration and a healthy diet is the best way to combat Freshers’ flu, including lots of hand washing and wiping surfaces/handles.

5. You belong here, don’t let the imposter syndrome get you! You earnt this and you deserve it!

6. On the day you move in, take a door wedge with you. Not only will this make unloading things into your new room easier, but that way people moving into your halls can see you're in there already. This may encourage them to come and say hello/introduce themselves, or at the very least to borrow some scissors or something!

7. Don’t forget to take time for you. A lot of change is happening and it might seem a lot, which is totally normal. Find some moments for yourself to do things for you that bring you calm or joy. Anything as simple as a cup of tea and a cheeky biscuit. You got this.

8. Bring cake to entice your new hall mates and a doorstop so they see you as they walk past rather than a shut door!

9. Don’t feel that SU nights automatically equal getting really drunk. You can still enjoy them if you’re sober/only have a few drinks, and you’ll feel better in the morning!

10. Freshers’ Festival isn’t the only time to try new things. If something takes your fancy in the middle of the year, there’s no harm in going along for one session.

11. Everyone moves at their own pace. If you're introverted, or the thought of living in a new place, with new people doing new things is absolutely terrifying and you just want to hide in bed because the anxiety is too much - that's okay. The most important person to look out for is you. (I'm trying to convince myself of this currently as I get ready to move back after a year away). Also join a society - they're great.

12. Talk to as many people as possible. If you’re queueing on your own for the SU, talk to those around you. You’ll meet so many people!

13. Make your room feel like your own right at the beginning by putting up posters, photos etc. It means you always have a safe place that feels homelike when you're getting the hang of being away from home.

14. Everyone's in the same boat, if you're struggling with something, chances are someone else will be too, don't be afraid to talk it out with each other.

15. If at any point you are struggling with the step up to university, please contact CeDAS. Their academic support services are free to all students. 

16. There will be something for everyone, even if you don’t find it right away. And there’s nothing wrong with not drinking! I haven’t drunk at uni in the last two years and I always make the most of being the sober one on group nights.

17. Remember that basically no-one in first year will know anyone else. Everyone is nervous, so introduce yourself to them! You may find your new best friends.

18. It’s ok to be overwhelmed, and remember you’re not alone in feeling so! Remember to take time for yourself especially during the first few weeks!

With thanks to everyone who submitted tips!

If you have any questions or need any advice or guidance, remember you can get in contact with me on Facebook or via email 

Lucy Simpson // Vice President Welfare & Diversity