Freshers’ Week at Leeds University

university students

As a second year student, I have done Leeds Freshers’ Week twice. Below you will find my guide to preparing for and getting through the week with plenty of tips on where to go and what to do.

Being a fresher is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. You’re going somewhere new, meeting different people, and often moving away from home for the first time. Freshers’ Week at Leeds is designed to help you settle in and have fun. There are activities on at all times of the day, so you will never get bored and there are plenty of chances to meet amazing people and make friends for life.

Important things to do before you arrive:

Register at University

Once your offer has been confirmed, the next step is to complete your online registration. The details of how to do this will be sent to you in your welcome pack. The registration process allows you to discover a bit more about the university and accommodation, pick your modules, and prepare for starting at Leeds.

Find your flatmates

Although this step isn’t always possible, it may make planning your Freshers’ Week a bit easier. Join your accommodation’s Facebook group and see if there’s a group chat. This is a great way to meet people in your accommodation and hopefully in your flat. Knowing who you are going to be living with will help reduce your nerves and allows you to plan any activities you want to do together during Freshers.

Pick a date and time to collect keys

You’re registered to the University and you know some people in your accommodation. Now you’ve got to pick a date to collect your keys. Your move in date will depend on the length of your accommodation contract. Some allow you to move in a few weeks in advance, whereas others only allow you to move the weekend before freshers begins.

Your accommodation registration page will give you a few options of move-in dates that you can choose between. Most freshers arrive on the Saturday before Freshers week, but don’t worry about arriving earlier if you need to. International students have their Freshers’ Week before the official one and there are plenty of events on where you can meet other students who have arrived early. If you don’t want to move in early but live close you could also collect your keys and move a few things in earlier when it’s easier and quieter (especially if you’re going to need to use the lifts!).

Get the MenACWY jab

All Leeds University freshers should get the MenACWY injection if they haven’t already. Cases of meningitis and septicaemia increased in the UK from 22 in 2009/10 to 210 in 2015/16 (NHS, 2016) and university students are most at risk. Some colleges and sixth forms offer it to everyone but if yours doesn’t get down to your doctors before you arrive. If you can’t, don’t panic – it is also possible to get the jab during Freshers’ Week!

Pack!

The final thing to do before you arrive is pack. There’s a useful list of things to bring here: http://students.leeds.ac.uk/info/10101/arrival/978/what_to_bring. Ensure you’ve brought cooking equipment (if you’re self-catered); plates and cutlery; bathroom items; some cleaning products (even if you have a cleaner for communal areas, your bedroom is your responsibility) and things to make your room feel homely. I printed off hundreds of pictures and posted them all over my room and brought some items that reminded me of my room at home. Other people cover their room in posters, (if this is for you the union puts on an awesome poster sale in the first few weeks of term).

What not to do!

Buy freshers wristbands

People fall for this every year- avoid buying freshers wristbands! Usually you end up going to different clubs than are available on the wristband and ultimately end up losing money. If you can find your flatmates before you start then plan some activities with them and buy your tickets together instead. Don’t worry though, there’s almost always tickets available on the night so you won’t miss out.

Bring fairy lights or candles to your accommodation

These may be standard items for homeliness but most student accommodation have strict rules against fairy lights and candles due to the risk of fire. If you’re caught with these in your flat you could be fined so it’s best to avoid them!

Key events during Leeds University Freshers Week

Now you’re all ready to go, what events can you expect when you arrive?

Subject inductions

In your welcome pack your school will send you an induction timetable. The number of induction sessions you will have varies by school but it’s important to attend all of them as they give you information about being in Leeds as well as your subject. Some subjects also set assignments this week so you need to be there to know what you’re doing!

Most schools will also provide some kind of course lunch during the week. This is a great way to meet and get to know others doing your degree. These are the people you’ll spend most of your days with and they will want to get to know you as much as you want to get to know them. This is how I met the people I chose to live with in second year.

The University Freshers’ Fair

This is the best way to find out about societies and activities you can get involved in at Leeds as well as discover local business’ and collect freebies. The fair runs Monday to Wednesday and showcases a different society theme every day, and with over 350 societies ranging from Sports to Cultural to Academic to General Interest, there’s something for everyone!

In previous years businesses such as Greggs, Dominoes, First Bus, and ASOS have attended the fairs and given away plenty of freebies. Local businesses also give away vouchers which makes it very easy to eat cheaply (and sometimes for free) all Freshers’ Week. My aim each year is to get lunch free every day!

Accommodation Welcome Talk

This is a compulsory talk where you learn about safety in your accommodation. The talk will also cover some of the activities you can expect to see in your accommodation – this will include a free pizza and drinks every night during Leeds Freshers week. You also get a free drink and a meal when you attend the talk so there’s no reason not to go!

Leeds University Union welcome talk

This talk gives you all the information you’ll need about Leeds University Union (LUU). You’ll learn about societies; how the union can help you get part time work; where to go for help and advice; and a bit about all the amazing spaces the Union has.

Other Leeds Freshers’ Week activities

The most exciting part of Freshers’ Week is the huge range of activities you can get involved in both on campus and around the city. One of the reasons I love Leeds is that it’s a city (and university) that caters for everyone. A lot of people worry that university is all about studying and partying, especially during Freshers’ week.  There are over 20 clubs and hundreds of bars in Leeds if alcohol is your thing but there is also plenty available for those that don’t drink!

More Fresher’s Fairs

O2 Academy Leeds hosts a fair full of representatives from local restaurants, pubs and clubs offering free drinks, free food, free club entry and lots of interesting merchandise.

The Pit in Headingley also host a similar Freshers Fair later in September with more free food!

Explore the city

  • If you’re a shopaholic, Leeds boasts a huge array of shops varying from vintage boutiques to mainstream. There are multiple shopping centres including Trinity which alone has over 120 shops and services. Leeds also has the largest indoor market in Europe- Leeds Kirkgate market.
  • Interested in film? There are two Vue cinemas, one Everyman cinema and two independents in Leeds meaning there will always be a film playing somewhere that you’ll want to watch. Hype Park Picture House do student tickets for £6 or less and occasionally show films for free. Cottage Road Cinema in Headingley also do student tickets for £6 and have an ice cream interval after the trailers have been shown!
  • If you’re more into culture, visit Leeds Art Gallery, the Town Hall or Leeds City Museum. All of which are free to enter and host incredible exhibitions. Worried you’ll not have anything to see after Fresher’s week? No need, the exhibition at the sculpture museum changes every month or two so there’s always something new to see. The museum also has a changing exhibition on the top floor.
  • Want to try something different? Leeds really does have something for everything. Multiple trampoline parks, laser tag, bowling, crazy golf, arcades and more! If you don’t mind venturing a bit further out of the city Xscape gives you the chance to ski and skywalk too! Most of these places have student nights which are slightly cheaper too so that’s worth looking out for during Fresher’s and beyond.
  • Or just really love food? There are restaurants everywhere. Leeds has a restaurant for every possible cuisine and it’s always nice to go for a flat meal (or stay in with a takeaway) to get to know each other. If you’re a true foodie, the union put on a Food Crawl every Freshers week- you try food from restaurants all around Leeds!

pub in Leeds

Have fun with people in your accommodation

During the first few weeks of term there are plenty of trips and activities specifically for your accommodation allowing you to get to know the people you live with. You can travel to York, Lincoln (or even Ikea!) or you can stay in Leeds and learn how to make cocktails, play board games, eat pizza, watch films and more!

Go to the union

The union is not just for societies. During Freshers’ Week they put on a mixture of free and paid activities to suit different needs. There are acoustic nights, comedy shows, yoga, pub quizzes, cooking demonstrations and BBQs.

Want to go clubbing? Throughout Freshers’ week the union hosts a different party every night. There’s an arrival party; a headphone disco (my personal favourite); a special guest event which has previously hosted guests such as Tiny Tempah and Ms Dynamite; Fruity, the unions Friday night event; and the finale party. Unless stated otherwise most union club nights are full of cheesy, fun music and chart hits with extra rooms for R’n’B and indie rock fans.

Enjoy the famous nightlife

  • As mentioned, if you are into alcohol there are plenty of bars and clubs in Leeds and during Freshers’ Week they all want you to be there! Look out for free tickets, wristbands and drinks vouchers being given out at freshers’ fairs and on the streets as this might help you decide where to go!
  • Love cocktails? There are some great cocktail bars such as Mook that offer 2-4-1 on delicious cocktails, All Bar One where the bartenders dance while mixing and The Alchemist which is just incredibly fancy.
  • Just want to sit in a pub? Leeds has all your average chains as well as some amazing independents. Most serve drinks at good value and you’re bound to find one you’ll love and stick with. Look out for pub quizzes too! The Library Pub and Dry Dock have a phone quiz on Sunday and Thursday where you can win £15 worth of points to spend on their food and drink; The Pit in Headingley has a quiz every Thursday where you can win a £50 bar tab and independent pubs have quizzes where you can win up to £80. These are always worth checking out if you like drinking but not clubbing.
  • Want to go all out? In Leeds every night is student night and during Freshers’ Week this is truer than ever. Popular club nights are Quids-In at Pryzm on Mondays, Mixtape at Hifi on Tuesdays, Mischief at Warehouse on a Wednesdays, Mission or Fuzzy Logic at Wire on a Thursday and Fruity at the Union or Backroom on a Friday. During Freshers week look out for fancy dress nights, foam parties, UV paint parties, headphone discos and more. Remember to check out what type of music will be played beforehand too, as there’s no point in going somewhere where you can’t stand the music!

What about the studying?

In most cases Freshers’ Week at Leeds doesn’t involve too much studying. Your tutors understand that you’re settling in so they’ll avoid giving you too much to do. However, this is subject-dependent, some start immediately with lectures and some even set assignments in the first week!

Socialising during the first few weeks is as important as studying because it helps you to meet people and settle in. The main thing is to find a balance that suits you. Some people do go out for 10 nights straight and enjoy it but if that’s not for you then don’t force yourself! Always remember that Freshers’ Week is for you to settle in and have fun. You can challenge yourself and try something new but you don’t have to do things that make you uncomfortable just because flat/ course mates are.

Just remember that you’ll find people like you by doing activities you enjoy, not by forcing yourself to do things that you don’t!

General advice

  • Don’t be afraid to do things alone – everyone is in same boat and this is the way you meet people.
  • Talk to people! (for the same reason as above)
  • Join societies and if you’re not sure about paying straight away take the opportunity to try them out for free
  • Take time to explore the city; you’re going to be living here for at least three years so you may as well start discovering now
  • Take a university tour if you get chance- you’ll discover some amazing spaces and it will make it easier to find your lectures!
  • It’s okay to feel homesick, it happens to everyone at some point. Throw yourself in and soon you’ll realise you have two homes.

Good luck and enjoy freshers’!

Written by - Aimee F.

Studying economics at Leeds University