Roar writer Alin C. Luca gives advice to incoming freshers on how to make the most out of their first week at university.
There is no experience like being a fresher. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about. I’ve been a fresher twice, so I can tell you a thing or two. First, there are the things you already know of: newly gained independence, new environment, new people, and probably even a new city. These are all self-explanatory and don’t require others to inflate – or accordingly, deflate – their importance. On the other hand, there are many things you will have to experience by yourself, such as managing your bullion or learning how to not drink to death. No one is going to nanny you. Or, better said, what would be the point in gaining that bit of independence if others start telling you what to do?
But there are also some realities that need to be pointed out. Yes, you will be bombarded with emails, flooded with welcome texts and you will most probably drown in all the government guidelines regarding Covid-19 (and speaking of Covid… not necessarily the freshers’ experience you were expecting, but hey! Life rarely goes as expected). Yes, you will find lots of friendly people — most are either just pretending or want your money, especially in London. Yes, King’s sometimes is a bureaucratic black hole, so don’t get angry when they mess things up (as they often do). Yes, you will make lots of friends and probably maintain diplomatic relations with only half of them by the end of the year, which is totally fine.
In Amor Towles’ Gentleman in Moscow, Count Rostov allows his young adopted daughter, Sofia, to roam freely and unsupervised across the Metropol hotel, claiming that he does not want to ruin her inherent curiosity and thus spoil her natural learning framework.
“Rather than tucking in blankets and buttoning up coats, we must have faith in them to tuck and button on their own. And if they fumble with their newfound liberty, we must remain composed, generous, judicious. We must encourage them to venture out from under our watchful gaze, and then sigh with pride when they pass at last through the revolving doors of life…”
Life is an ongoing process of learning wherever you are, be it at university, work or in your day-to-day chores. What is a prerequisite, though, is the framework the wise anti-Bolshevik Count talks about. For my two years as a fresher, no one mentioned anything about it. As such, if you gain anything from this column, I hope it is this.
The most important thing that no one bothers to tell you is to trust yourself.
Trust yourself, because the world is complex, sometimes wicked, and full of many types of people. Don’t let anyone stop you from doing what you wish to do. Don’t let anyone tell you something is impossible. And, even if it is, try it. Don’t let anyone step on your personality and undermine you as a human being.
In this age of conformity, what I’m saying now might soon be deemed illegal, but do speak your mind. Don’t be afraid to think independently and swim against the crowd. You might feel the need to “belong to a group” or to a particular society, which in reality is not that important. Be a bit snobbish with your time and spoil yourself.
Whatever you want to do or experience during your time at university, regardless of whether you fail or succeed, if you approach that goal while trusting yourself, that is already a fruitful step through the revolving doors of life.