If university is still seen by many as a rite of passage, then freshers' week is a rite of utter wrongness. For lots of students, it'll be their first taste of proper nights out in proper cities where you can go to proper clubs and do proper drugs and properly start ruining your life—take that mum!
Like the pingers and paracetamols that are parachuted and popped all over halls across the weeks, freshers is a bitter pill to swallow that can only be endured through copious amounts of drink.
All freshers' weeks start in the same way: you'll sit around a kitchen table with literally no idea of what to say to these strangers you'll now be forced to hear shitting, shagging, and being very sick for the next nine months. The silence will eventually—and honestly it will happen—be broken by the sound of cracked cans and hissing bottles of Frosty Jacks. Within an hour you'll all be best mates, exaggerating literally everything about yourself and ignoring all the texts your dads are sending you. Drake'll be on the stereo and you'll do a really earnest Facebook post about how great university is.
What happens over the next few days will haunt you forever. When you crawl into middle-age you'll still see yourself in a silly hat trying to dance to an S Club 7 song, with sick lining your lips every time you're left alone for more than twenty seconds. It will follow you forever, a hellish nightmare fabricated from horrible snogs, first cigarettes, and hot dog stuffed crust pizzas. I can't escape my own demons—sinks blocked with vomit, pints of olive oil, a THC-induced vision of Margaret Thatcher in a lamp—and neither will you.
Here's what you've got to look forward to. It's the best week ever!
Night One: the Welcome Party
This is it. Your new life's started. Mum and dad have gone and you've been left alone with a pot and pan set, and a cheese grater for company. Your new kitchen crew will, invariably, get a knock from someone from the flat next door. They'll invite you round for pre-drinks. You'll accept, not wanting to seem like the awful introvert you are. UNI! Two hours down the line you're trying to rap along to songs you don't know the words to. There's vodka running down your chin. UNI! A few hours after that and you're at the Student's Union telling anyone who'll listen about how mad it is that you're at uni. That's all everyone will talk about. That's it. That's the topic. At about 2AM you make a misguided call to a friend from back home. Your sent messages look like the work of a fingerless technophobe. You go home. You puke in a sink. You do not clean the sick up. UNI!
Night two: the School Disco
Arising at three in the afternoon feeling the worst you've ever felt but still telling everyone on Snapchat that you're "bang up for another!" because "this is freshers and you've got to do it properly!" What you really want is your mum to cook you a nice cottage pie. What you do, though, is undercook a frozen pizza. At 4 you crack open a can of cider, and by 5 you're texting people about how "fuckingg wankere" you are. At 6 you've got to slip into the school uniform you've been instructed to wear. This is the #banter you've always wanted. The #banter you've always dreamed of. This is the #banter you have come for. That night, you find yourself contemplating whether or not dancing to Steps in a blazer actually is #banter but you slide that thought down along with another VK. You fall asleep in your tie.
Night Three: the Night Where You Get Really Baked Because There Are No Events On
John, who you met last night, is telling you about Danny, who he met last night, and how Danny had told John about Rat who Danny had met last night. Rat, it turns out, sells weed. You have told everyone you love getting stoned. You have never been stoned. But this is your life now and you have to go along with it, so you knock on Rat's door and you try and buy weed and you don't know what to ask for and you drop your money but somehow you end up leaving the room with what looks like actual weed. Feigning a "gammy wrist" you ask the girl in hareem pants who you live with and fancy a bit to roll a few "fat zoots" and she obliges. You have your first toke. "Good shit," you say to no one in particular. "That's good shit." The night ends with you pulling a whitey on the toilet while a bloke called Mac plays a Bob Marley song on his ukelele. Hareem Pants takes a photo of you passed and out and sends it to everyone on Snapchat. You will never know that, but will spend the next three paranoid years wondering why everyone looks at you in a funny way.
Night Four: the Foam Party
Foam. Parties. There is nothing more terrifying on this earth than having to survive a foam party. No one has ever enjoyed a foam party. You do not enjoy the foam party. At one point, over a cigarette with Hareem Pants, you attempt an off-colour joke about hot white spurts. She, politely, pretends not to hear you. You realise you might have fucked this one up a bit and spend the rest of the evening texting people from home about how great life at university is.
Night Five: the Superclub
This is when things start to really hurt. After four nights on the lash—four nights of shots with sexy names, chicken and chips, stray fags, and a deep sense of shame clinging to you like jizz on a teenager's bedsheets—all you really want to do is settle down with an episode or two of Fred Dibnah's World of Steel, Steam, and Stone. But you can't. Because freshers is meant to be an endurance test. Mum's been trying to call you all day but you can't face her. Eventually you text her a quick "im ok, hope home is ok" and ping Hareem Pants a "you out tonight?" message on Facebook. She is. Your spirits lift.
After a restorative pre-drinking session in Rat's kitchen, you find yourself in the back of a taxi heading for Oceana. A Proper Night Out awaits. One of the lads is talking loudly about cocaine and how he has cocaine and how he is going to do cocaine. You have never seen or taken cocaine. You are worried that you are going to have to take cocaine. You do not want to take cocaine.
While Gaz from Geordie Shore is on stage talking about how big his dick is, over some chart song you half recognise, you spot Hareem Pants looking a little lost. "HEY," you shout over Gaz's boasting, "ARE YOU OK?"
"YEAH, I'M FINE JUST A LITTLE SPACED OUT HA HA THIS CLUB IS HORRIBLE ISN'T IT FUCKING HELL IT'S JUST AWFUL RIGHT YEAH JUST SO BAD ISN'T IT LIKE I DON'T KNOW WHY WE'RE HERE WHY DID WE LET THEM TALK US INTO US I MEAN ITS FUCKING GARBAGE URGH LIKE THIS IS NOT MY VIBE AT ALL"
Is this happening, you ask yourself. Is this where I step in and suggest a film back in halls? Am I going to d—
"DO YOU WANT SOME COKE? I'VE GOT SOME COKE. THAT GUY GEORGE GAVE ME SOME. LIKE ITS PRETTY SHIT COKE BUT COKES COKE Y'KNOW."
You can't. You won't.
You're rolling up a five pound note in a toilet cubicle. You're snorting. You're doing this.
You look at your phone. A text from mum. "we are fine missing you lots hope having a good time and not being naughty love mum"
Oh god. Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Oh god.
Night Six: the Formal
You're in a suit. You're drinking fizzy wine. You're watching someone who you think might have been on Dancing on Ice talk to Hareem Pants. You're home before midnight.
Night Seven: the Halls T-Shirt Party
Fuck this. Fuck all of this. Fuck the drinking and the smoking and the shagging—that you're not doing but everyone else is. Fuck it all. You don't need to do this. You don't need join in. You're gonna be fine on your own. Fuck it. Fuck the fake friends and the bullshit and the….Hareem Pants texts you. Fuck it all from tomorrow, you tell yourself. That's when you'll fuck it all. Tonight, you ride one last time. Once more into the boozy breach. After all, the kindly souls at the SU have provided you with a t-shirt that has the name of your block on it. So you wear your t-shirt and you drink your drink and you share a cigarette with a stranger and to the world you look like someone who's absolutely smashed the arse out of freshers. And that's what you tell Snapchat and Instagram and Twitter and Facebook. You know, though, that deep down, it's misery.
Guess what? Everyone does! Everyone hates it! Happy Freshers Week!