Part-Way Through Fresher’s Week

I moved to university last Saturday dreading Fresher’s Week; Now it is Tuesday and I couldn’t be happier with the way things are going!

I don’t know where my social anxiety has disappeared to! I know it will probably be back soon but right now in the most socially demanding week of the university year I feel just fine.

I love my flatmates– there are 7 of us and we get along really well. 3 of us are planning to get the bus into town and go shopping next week. Lancaster is a beautiful city, although I haven’t explored it much yet. It’s only small, town-size really. It has a castle and all the buildings look quaint and old. I’m really into History as well so living in a historical city like this is a bonus for me.

On the first day our Fresher’s Reps got us all together in the kitchen to play ice-breaking games, the first event I was dreading. Incredibly, I didn’t get shy and awkward and say lame things like I usually do. We went to the college bar for free meals together, then came back to the flat and talked in our shared kitchen until midnight. I usually find group conversations with people I don’t know well really difficult, but not so this time!

Obviously though, clubbing and drinking is a big part of the average British student’s life, so most of the Freshers events revolve around that. I don’t enjoy this kind of thing, not entirely because of social anxiety but because for one thing I’m an introvert and for another, excessive drinking and overly provocative dancing go against my morals. So they took all the freshers out on mass to a paint party on Sunday night and last night they took us for a “bar crawl” ending in the town’s main night club. We didn’t have to get dressed up because the university gave us free t shirts for these events so that was alright. I went along to both events with my flatmates.

For the “paint party” I (naively) envisioned us all just running around in a dark room getting covered in paint from above, and I figured that could be quite fun. So I didn’t bring any ID along (but plenty of other people also didn’t so it wasn’t embarrassing). They let us in anyway as a one off. When we walked up into the club and I didn’t see any paint, just bright lights and a crowd I thought “Where is the paint? I only came for the paint!” I know, bless my cotton socks right? Me and the two lads from my flat didn’t want to dance so we just stood at the side until the others dragged us into the crowd to dance. I wasn’t as awkward as I would have been about this a couple of years ago, but I hardly enjoyed it.

There still wasn’t any paint. The music was as loud as it could possibly be and there was 0 personal space. You couldn’t not touch anyone; it was horrendously cramped. I’m talking rush-hour-on the-Transpennine-Express cramped. Only I’d rather be on the rush hour train because at least I know I can get out of it in 10 minutes. It was like, obligatory dancing to songs you hate and/or songs you like which sound like they’ve been smooshed around in a blender so the singer now has a chipmunk voice and all sorts of jarring electronic sounds inserted into their song. Also, this drunk guy came up to me and threw his arm round me trying to flirt in his loudest voice. His breath smelt terrible. Then he went round the other girls in my flat doing the same. Somebody enthusiastically pointed out a cage which was on a raised surface where people could get in to really club hard. I thought “Delightful…Cages are for animals!”

However, when the paint finally came out it was sort of fun! We were wearing our white paint party t shirts, so the paint splatters resulted in some really artsy looking t shirts to wear in future! And when they played the (unruined) 20 second instrumental bit of Don’t You Worry Child by Swedish House Mafia I briefly let go. That sound translates to sheer joy in my head. It was also comforting to know there were 2 or 3 others in my group feeling more awkward than me.

Last night we again went to town on mass, a couple of hundred of us. We went round various bars. I didn’t mind that because none of my flatmates wanted to get drunk, we just sat or stood talking with drinks. In some bars I’d just get lemonade, no one tried to peer pressure me into drinking alcohol. In others I tried something new with a bit of alcohol, but nothing too heavy. I stuck with my flatmates and my new Chinese friend who seemed a bit baffled by the rowdiness of British student culture. She just flew in last week so I was showing her all the pictures of my holiday in the Isle of Lewis in Scotland and she was asking lots about the UK and the language and then I’d ask her about China and her culture. I loved that.

Then we went to a different club, which was comparatively nicer and had better music then the other one, but still hot and sweaty. For fleeting moments now and again I enjoyed it, but at about midnight I began to get bored. Mind numbingly so. I tried to return to where I left off in the story I’m making up in my head but I couldn’t zone into it for all the noise. I didn’t want to cramp anyone’s style so I kept on going until 3am when everyone finally wanted to go home.

However, my feelings about Fresher’s week so far are predominantly positive I promise! I get along so well with my flatmates, I’m not homesick yet, and I love the sense of independence this is giving me. I have a flat! I have a whole campus to explore with some shops, banks etc. I now live in a wonderful town and have time on my hands to go and mosy around it and its shops whenever the mood takes me (except when I have lectures and homework I guess) I don’t feel anxious at all just now.

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