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.
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.
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.
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!).
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!
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).
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.
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!
Now you’re all ready to go, what events can you expect when you arrive?
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
Good luck and enjoy freshers’!