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18th September 2012

Student 101 – Life Lessons from Fresher’s Week

Zara Zubeidi reminisces on freshers’ week in her hot student topic column.

My first car journey up to the University of Manchester involved counting down the hours until my supposed fate via Sat Nav and being unable to eat in the service station due to nerves. We eventually arrived at my hall in Victoria Park and after equipping my room with newly bought IKEA essentials and shyly inspecting my future companions beneath my fringe, it was ‘time’. By ‘time’ I mean that widely read moment in every student university guide where your parents leave you, alone and abandoned in your lifeless hall room, without a friend in the world.  What now?

You’d be surprised at what humans resort to in the sheer desperation to make friends. One of the first things I said to a long legged, blonde haired girl on my first day of university was “Do you like music?” In the ridiculous assumption that anyone north of London didn’t share the same interests. Despite my stupidity, my forwardness paid off, and that said girl, who turned out to be a Russian speaking Sheffielder, continues to be a good friend today and lived with me during my second year.

That day, I took it upon myself to chat to anyone and everyone. I met people I would have never met at sixth form and from completely different walks of life to each other and to myself. The following week became a whirlwind of names, accents and stories.

What Fresher’s Week really taught me, alongside the drinking games and free pizza, is that university ultimately gives you the opportunity to meet people like no other institution can. It is a time to forget any stereotypical prejudices you had back in school and sixth form and to welcome diversity with open arms.

The University of Manchester celebrates its 36,000 students for good reason. If I hadn’t made that painfully nerve-wracking car journey up north three years ago, I would not be the person that I am today. Freshers of 2012 take advantage of your first year and embrace every opportunity that gets thrown your way, because for me, the life experiences that I have gained from meeting new people tops any first class degree.

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