It’s unbelievably hyped up: you’re in a new city, with completely new people, feeling ready to reinvent yourself. You’ve received all the classic spam texts from FATSOMA, made some friendships you’re sure will be long-lasting on the uni WhatsApp chat, and have planned your entire first week of outfits.
Or maybe, you’re lamenting leaving home, worried about losing touch with school friends and absolutely petrified about fitting in. Either way, you have no idea what to expect from freshers week, or Welcome week as we call it at LSE – the first big event of the exciting/daunting year ahead of you.
Just a year ago, I was in those exact shoes – somewhere in the middle of nervous and enthusiastic, and feeling utterly, utterly clueless. Here are some of the tips I wish I’d known back then:
#1 Lower expectations & NEVER, ever, buy the wristbands!
One thing that’s important to realise is that, for many, Welcome week is not as good as it’s made out to be. Often, you get stuck in a crowd of people that aren’t really that similar to you beyond surface-level conversation. Not only do you not really know anyone, but you’re also desperate to make friends (trust me, the best friends come after Welcome! I made my closest friends at the end of LT), which means you’re highly susceptible to the constant tide of events being marketed towards you.
My best advice is this: don’t worry too much (you’ll find your people later) and don’t spend too much (especially not on events not associated with LSE). The best events are all yet to come – think PuLSE Radio club nights, cinema and gallery outings, restaurant and cafe trips!
#2 Go to the Welcome Fair – every day!
The best way to find your crowd is to find the societies that appeal to you! See which people from your halls are joining the same WhatsApp chats as you and organise to attend an event with them – it’ll be less intimidating, and you might even get a good friendship out of it.
Don’t knock things til you’ve tried them – if there’s a cool sport you’ve always dreamed of doing or a career you’re intrigued by, then attend the give-it-a-go sessions! They’re all free, usually for the first month, so all you need to do is roll up at the event. It’s best to start with more options and narrow them down as some societies will struggle with organisation/ low attendance/ events at the start of the year.
#3 Get ready for flu season
You can run, but you can’t hide: freshers’ flu is coming. The best thing to do: stock up on tissues and paracetamol (I also recommend the Neilmed sinus rinse kit, absolute lifesaver!). One thing that’s particularly tough about freshers’ flu is it’s often the first time you will have been sick away from family – and it comes at a time when you’re not yet that close to the people around you. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ask a favour (e.g. tea) from someone on your corridor!
#4 Plan ahead for nights out (but remember, clubbing isn’t for everyone)
Being in London means it’s a good idea to take a few precautions before clubbing. Organise to go to events with a large group and make sure there’s at least 2-3 people from your halls who you have planned to go back with. Check out the transport links before going, and charge your phone!
Pre before going (as club drinks are super expensive and not worth your money!) and, if you find that clubbing isn’t your thing, don’t worry! There’s plenty more fun nights out to be had in London, which you’ll discover as the year goes on (Welcome can be clubbing centred, but there are plenty of more chill/ non-alcoholic events to attend too!).
#5 The propped-door-open friendship tip is a myth – but DO spend time in the common room!
Before coming to uni, I remember watching videos about the ways to make friends on day one – the oft-repeated suggestion was to open one’s door so people can come by and chat. In my experience at Passfield Hall, no one did this. Instead of sitting in your room, I’d recommend going down to the common room and actively approaching different groups of people – I met plenty of people on my first night this way, and recognising familiar faces made the next few weeks much easier too. During dinner, go up to any table and ask if you can sit – they won’t ever say no (and, worst comes to worst, you’ll just know to avoid them if you don’t particularly vibe).
Above all, try and enjoy yourself – you’re doing a great course at a brilliant university in (what I would argue is) the best city in the world. Just remember, Welcome week isn’t everything – you’ve got the whole year ahead of you!