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Freshers 2022 — Getting the full experience ‘post’-Covid-19

Features editor Naz Karadede discusses what to look forward to in Freshers Week this year and how to make the most of it now that all Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted. 

If you are starting university in September, chances are you have come across the word ‘Freshers’ or ‘Welcome Week’ at least once by now. King’s has dedicated an entire two weeks — from the 12th of September to the 23rd — to help its new students (informally known as ‘Freshers’) to adapt to university life this year. But what is ‘Welcome to King’s’? And how can you make the most of Freshers now that Covid-19 restrictions have been left behind?

If, like me, you were unfortunate enough to miss most or the whole of Freshers last year, due to any one of the myriad of different complications caused by Covid-19, you probably have a bittersweet recollection of this time last year. Freshers is supposed to be one of the most liberating and enjoyable, but also chaotic and confusing, times in your university life. Missing it was a huge blow.

The pandemic is not fully over, but most of its restrictions have been lifted. As such, more students will be able to attend Freshers this year than the start of the pandemic. And based on my limited— but, regardless, still quite interesting— experience of Freshers last year, I’ve complied a list of things to look forward to in Welcome Week this year. And how to enjoy it the best you can now that most of the complications caused by Covid-19 are relics of the past.

 

1. The Welcome Fair: clubs and societies! 

This year King’s Welcome Fair organised by the KCLSU will take place on the 22nd and 23rd of September in the same address as last year’s fair, Old Billingsgate. If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend getting your free tickets from the KCLSU website. This is a wonderful opportunity to see the different societies and clubs offered at King’s, from sports to the arts to cultural, political, and academic groups.

For first-year students, clubs and societies are some of the best ways to meet new people and make friends, whilst also discovering new passions, interests and hobbies. And the Welcome Fair is your gateway to deciding which ones to join. This is unfortunately something I missed out on last year. But from what I’ve heard (and from the insider info I get from different committees) the societies in the Welcome Fair this year will not only offer activities and performances, but also free merch and goodies. For those that will not be in London during that time — don’t worry! A digital version of the Welcome Fair will be available on the KCLSU website.

Picture credits to: https://blogs.kcl.ac.uk/betweentheacts/welcome-week-freshers-fair-what-does-it-all-mean/

2. Freshers events and wristbands  

No article on Freshers Week would ever be complete without a mention of the infamous London Freshers clubbing experience. If you love partying and want to go crazy before classes start, you’re in the right city. London has some of the best student club nights and the KCLSU has already put forward The KCL Freshers Wristband 2022 with Freshers nights at some of London’s most famous clubs: Ministry of Sound, Fabric, XOYO, etc. If you enjoy partying but don’t want to venture beyond the limits of King’s College, then the Guy’s Campus or Strand Campus Welcome Wristband are probably more for you.

Just a small disclaimer: If you’re looking to meet new people and make friends, then clubs are probably not the most reliable place to do this. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of talking, laughing, dancing, and exchanging Instagrams will take place on a night out but most of the time the people you meet at a club will end up being just that: a person you met at a club. Now this is not to say that you shouldn’t talk to anyone on a night out! But don’t rely too much on clubbing to make friends and don’t get too upset if the person you talked to in the smoking area of XOYO last night has left you on delivered for 16 hours. They are probably too busy getting wasted again.

Also, if you don’t drink or you genuinely don’t enjoy clubbing, then there are plenty of alcohol-free Freshers events organised by the KCLSU which will give you the opportunity to meet people. These include breakfast meet-and-greets, alcohol-free pizza and pancake nights, games nights, and the list goes on. The FOMO is real when it comes to clubbing, but there are still plenty of alternatives to socialise!

3. Meeting new people and making friends 

Following on from my previous point, one of the most exciting things about Freshers is the prospect of meeting people and making new friends. Whilst the feeling of homesickness and the longing for the comfort and companionship of old friends doesn’t go away until well into the first semester, socialising and forming a bond with the people we meet at Freshers, who, most of the time, feel the same way as we do, definitely does ease the pain and makes the hard chore of moving to a new city (or country) a lot more fun!

And who knows, soon enough you might even find that the girl you met at a faculty induction who you thought was a bit weird has actually become one of your closest friends. Or suddenly you have started cooking your meals with the flatmate you yelled at on the first day for leaving dirty dishes in the sink.

But don’t feel like you need to rush into things and make as many new friends as possible before classes even start! It’s ok if you’re someone who takes a longer time to form bonds and get close to people. Say yes, be open to meeting new people, but also be selective; there’s no pressure to become besties with every person you meet just to get rid of the feeling of homesickness.

Feeling alone and homesick during Freshers is completely normal. And don’t feel bad because you saw your old mates partying and posting with their new mates on Instagram when you feel like you’ve barely met anyone. Everyone has their own pace at making friends and most of the time what we see on social media is not an accurate representation of what is actually going on. Besides, there will be plenty of opportunities to meet new people once classes start, in your lectures and seminars.

4. Shopping (with student benefits) and exploring the city

And finally: take the time to get to know your new city. Even if you’re alone London can be a very fun city to explore — albeit, a tiny bit dangerous — and the list of things to do are endless. From food and clothes markets to cinemas, museums, parks and theatres, London is a cultural hub with venues and events for all interests. As new students, you will be able to benefit from student discounts using apps and websites such as Totum, Unidays, and Studentbeans for your countless shopping needs. Discover your way around the city (and around your campus, of course!) and enjoy the freedom of wandering around London like an aimless tourist before the chaos of lectures, seminars and assignments starts.

 

Make no mistake: Freshers will be one of the most hectic times of your university life, but if you take the time to enjoy it and if you embrace it, with its upsides and downfalls, it will also be one of the best.

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