string(10) "birmingham"

The good, the bad and ugly: What I wish I knew as a Uni of Birmingham fresher

Degree comes first, nights out come (a close) second


As a fresher at University of Birmingham I know just how daunting it can be. For many, the first time being away from home in a new place, let alone in a big place like Brum, there’s lots to unpack as you navigate the unfamiliar environment that is first year. After two months of navigating all things first year, it’s time to  draw on my own hindsight as a semi-experienced fresher. So, here are the top five things I’ve encountered in my first term, the good, the bad and ugly.

1. Freshers’ Flu is NOT a myth

In fact the stories are true, and it’s unavoidable. Going to lectures with a cold (as gross as it is) is quite the norm. It probably would have been wise to pack Lemsip and a box of tissues before getting here, but if you’re on the Vale, the local costcutter should sort you out.

2. Uni and university are two separate things, and you have to do both

The lead up to university can be very exciting, socialising with new flatmates, meeting people on your course and most of all: Freshers’ Week. Yet once those seven days are up the reality sinks in, It’s time to get on with your degree. Those 9am lectures are quite the shock after coming home at 3am every day, but soon become something you get used to.

3. The student loan is a very limited supply

The day that money drops in the bank account, you’ll think all your problems are solved. At last, a shopping spree and spending unnecessary amounts of money on food and nights out. Slowly but surely, that number only gets smaller – it’s time to learn to budget. So please, spend your money wisely – unless you want to be in even more debt than you already are.

4. Be proactive in making friends

Coming to UoB, I was terrified of making new friends. Approaching soon-to-be-friends in lectures or seminars sounds very easy, but for some it only comes with the anxiety of wondering “Do they actually like me?”. You soon realised that everyone is in the same boat. The person you feel judged by is most likely wondering if you are judging them. Don’t get me wrong, not everyone you meet is gonna stick around. But with the amount of faces on campus, who knows if you’ll see them again.

5. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you need to go out EVERY night

For those who don’t enjoy going out as much as others this shouldn’t be an issue. For those who do… think again. I thought I needed to be out every weekend and every night of freshers’ (it’s never that deep). Instead, spending a few evenings having a movie night with friends, saving money and pretty valuable energy (especially for those 9am’s where no amount of caffeine can save me) was no bad decision. Student life can be much more enjoyable with some good night’s rest alongside the alcohol. Broad Street isn’t going anywhere.

Related articles recommended by this author:

• Just 10 fun and booze-free activities that students can do in Birmingham

A fresher’s guide to being an academic weapon: University of Birmingham edition