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29th September 2021

Freshers – go with the flow

Do you need to be in Oak House? Struggling to make friends? Third years top tips to thrive in freshers
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Freshers – go with the flow
PHOTO: IRIS CHASE @ FLICKR

We spoke to third year University of Manchester (UoM) students about what they would and wouldn’t change about starting university.

By now you’ve probably read every ‘mistakes freshers should avoid’ article out there. But you will make mistakes and you will probably have regrets – that’s what first year is for! Freshers is really a time just to take university as it comes.

Disregarding that – here are some things some current UoM third years might have done differently.

Oak House – yay or nay?

Most students fiercely defend their halls. Oak House or Owens Park are apparently the social places to be, creating serious FOMO if you don’t live there. But the reality of the intense party scene and student bubble can be too much for some people.

Noah Silvio, a third year English Literature student who lived in Hulme Hall (Victoria Park) in his first year, said that he “doesn’t really have any regrets”.

“I was going to move to Fallowfield and I didn’t. If I had I most probably wouldn’t be living with the people I am now. And the people I could have ended up living with could have been wrong for me.”

Jade Smith, a third year medicine student, applied for Oak House because it was cheap. She said that “Some people in my flat really had a thing about making friends, going to parties and being in the centre [of it all] but I didn’t feel that pressure” because this was her second degree.

She joked that she “was definitely the boring one in my flat” and “got used to sleeping through parties”, but she says she didn’t regret her experience.

So if you do know you’re going to want your sleep, maybe Oak House or Owens Park isn’t the place for you. If money is also an issue, think about Whitworth Park even though it’s outside of Fallowfield. It’s not too late to change.

Societies: your way out

Jason Fox, a third year History student, said that the best thing they ever did was joining societies.

“Even though I did really get along with my housemates, I knew that they weren’t necessarily going to be my people […] I was on a bit of a hunt for people who were similar to me.”

They joined the Kickboxing, Vinyl Frontier and Other Sounds societies. Jason said they “felt a bit embarrassed going [to Kickboxing] the first few times, as I wasn’t very good. I felt myself improving very quickly so I didn’t regret it”. But, the Vinyl Frontier was where they met most of their friends.

Rowan Woodell, a third year Computer Science and Maths student, also went to Vinyl Frontier and Other Sounds. They said that they “were very happy with two societies and made a lot of friends through them”.

Jade did Cricket, Medics Orchestra, and Bone Marrow society. But she said that “even this time I would have liked to go to more taster societies. Even random things…I really wanted to go to Ice Hockey. You never know what you’ll like or who you’ll get on with.”

Under Pressure: friends

Beyond societies, Jason felt there was a lot they would change. “I felt a pressure in regards to sex and relationships which wasn’t really there.” I thought “Oh my god I need to find someone now”. But “once you’re with the right people, those pressures become totally artificial.”

Similarly, Rowan said looking back they “would have gone to different clubs with different people. But societies were good”.

So – overall our students are saying try and stick to what you actually want to do, no matter what you think you should do. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, as it will work out in the end.

And look on the bright side, at least your freshers isn’t in lockdown…


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