26th September 2010 was the day I left home and started university. 5 years ago tomorrow.
I do not really remember what I did when I woke up, or much of the drive there. I do remember that I packed far too much and that I was extremely excited.
Mum and I (there was no room in the car for my brother) arrived and got shown to my room. It took several trips back and forth from the car to get everything. Once we had everything in my room I think we were not really sure what to do. When Mum left she looked so upset. I was the first kid she was sending off to university, it was emotional for both of us.
I put some music on and started unpacking. I put a doorstop under my door and rushed to it whenever someone approached. I am quite shy but I was desperate enough to make friends that I made myself approachable to everyone.
The first guy I saw was the tallest person I had ever met. He shook my hand and told me his name. In my head I thought don’t mention how tall he is. As someone who is pretty short and has not yet come up with an appropriate response to people telling me you’re so small I thought maybe he felt the same way about being tall. Everyone else who met him then proceeded to comment on how tall he was and I felt smug for being different.
I managed to say hello to a few more people as they went past. Some people’s parents stayed and helped them unpack, which made me feel a bit guilty for not suggesting to my mum that she stayed and helped me unpack.
Once everyone had arrived we all congregated and sat in the hallway. There was 12 of us on the floor, separated into three flats with their own kitchen areas. We all did the usual, said our names, our course, where we were from, what A Levels we did. The same questions we would be asking and answering a million times over the next few weeks.
I do not know what I had for dinner, probably pasta and tomato sauce.
We met in one of the kitchens for predrinks before the welcome party. This was what I was worried about, because back then I was not as fond of alcohol as I am now. I had been drunk once when I was 16 and found the hangover so bad I had not really done it a second time. I did have some cans of cider so I could join in though.
I had not really played drinking games before, except from I have never…, when you go round in a circle saying things you have never done and anyone who has done them has to drink. It is a drinking game I always used to dread because it inevitably drifts towards sex, something I had no experience of at that point and I felt like a bit of an oddball for it. I look back now and think of what a silly thing it was to be worried about at only 18!
As I suspected, it did come up. Most people drank for some things but a couple of other people did not, it was no big deal.
Then we headed to the welcome party. While we were queuing someone was talking to the group of people in front of us and I heard Laura’s doing Physics too! And then I met my first university friend that I am still friends with today, C. I mainly remember her being a lot taller than me and looking quite a bit more grown up. We talked a bit and she asked me whether I knew where our induction was. I had geekily written all of the dates for everything in a diary so of course I knew! We then went our separate ways with our groups (until the induction when she sat next to me and I made my first actual friend!).
By the time we got into the party I was exhausted and had a horrible headache. I stayed for a while but when a couple of the girls said they were going to head home I eagerly joined them. When I got to bed I could not believe I was finally there.
This was not my best day at university.
For me the times I look back on with fondness are the ones much further in when I had formed a group of friends around me and felt a bit more comfortable. There is a lot of pressure on Freshers Week being amazing, but really I do not remember much of it. It was a lot of walking around, trying to figure things out and nights out with people I did not know very well.
So if anyone reading this has just started university and found your Freshers Week a bit underwhelming, don’t panic, it gets so much better.