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Avoiding Freshers’ Flu: A handy how-to guide for final years

I do not have time to be sniffling through my 9ams and neither do you


A decided chill in the air has taken up residence in Bristol this week. Gone away are the short shorts, the flip flops and the glorious tanning opportunities of the summer; queue the layered jumpers, doubled-up socks, and a cold wind that seems to create an extra cloud of smoke with each exhalation of your rollie.

Pumpkin-spiced lattes are all well and good but I, for one, am not looking forward to the sniffles, tickling throats and apocalypse-menacing coughs that, to the hypochondriacs amongst us, smack terrifyingly of Fresher’s Flu.

As I return to Bristol after eight months sweating in the Latin American heat to what (I hope) will be my last year at Bristol, I have no intention of allowing these bright-eyed, bushy-tailed 18 year olds infect my now ancient body with their potent, youthful germs. Stay back, or I shall swipe at you with my walking stick!

If you too would like to avoid the jovencitos with their maladitos and stay healthy for a final year of doing some actual work, consider trying the following:

1. Practice anti-social distancing

Yes, stay away. Social distancing, much like social media, is a complete misnomer insofar as there is NOTHING SOCIAL ABOUT IT. Keep away, well away.

Do not take the U1, do not go to Gravity or wherever the hell they do BED Mondays these days, avoid the sickening smells of the W.G Grace and The Berkeley, and whenever you spy a rogue fresher attending a lecture (when did they start doing that?) try diving down a different corridor, donning a face mask like the good old days, or making the sign of the cross with two of your finest writing implements.

2. Do not give it a go

Instead, give it a miss. Those of us who missed our first year’s introduction to societies may still feel we’ve never quite had a chance to sample all that was on offer. If you feel that way, forget it. Let the “silly fresh” recreate battles or play quidditch for a week or two.

You’re too old for that now, get used to it. Tell yourself you have a degree to finish, you need to wise up and buckle down. With any luck, you’ll stick to that resolution long enough for the flu to disappear.

3. Know your enemy

Before you can avoid a fresher, you must identify one. Telltale signs are:

– Light behind the eyes

– Functioning lungs

– Overheard snippets of conversation about something called TikTok

– The word “A-levels”

– The word “gap-year” (read gahp yarrrh)

– An orderly line at the bar

If you see any of the above, text Bristol freshers police on 610 16. We’ll sort it…

4. Safe spaces and breakout rooms

Even after following all the above advice, it still might be possible that a particularly determined super-spreader may catch you off guard. The university has therefore created fresher-free zones for you to escape to, should things become overwhelming and the fear of infection seize you whilst out and about.

1. The ASS library. They don’t know where that is yet. When they find it, there will be hell to pay so enjoy it while you can.

2. Pubs that aren’t Wetherspoons. Try the Highbury Vaults for a fresher-free ale or the Hope and Anchor before it becomes overrun with Goldney freshers.

3. Durdham.

Hopefully, we can all enjoy a start to this academic year of scholarship and learning without the hacking coughs and feverish sweats to which we have become so accustomed thus far in our higher education careers. Stay safe out there! I’ll see you in the library.

Even after following all the above advice, it still might be possible that a particularly determined super-spreader may catch you off guard. The university has therefore created fresher-free zones for you to escape to, should things become overwhelming and the fear of infection seize you whilst out and about.

1. The ASS library. They don’t know where that is yet. When they find it, there will be hell to pay so enjoy it while you can.

2. Pubs that aren’t Wetherspoons. Try the Highbury Vaults for a fresher-free ale or the Hope and Anchor before it becomes overrun with Goldney freshers.

3. Durdham.

Hopefully, we can all enjoy a start to this academic year of scholarship and learning without the hacking coughs and feverish sweats to which we have become so accustomed thus far in our higher education careers. Stay safe out there! I’ll see you in the library.

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