Childhood teddies were squished under cheap bottles of Vodka and I’d crammed the last of my surprisingly extensive belongings into my dad’s surprisingly tiny car. It felt a long time coming but this was the day I left home to live alone for the first time at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.
The journey wasn’t long, about three hours, one of which involved simply circling the university attempting to find the entrance, and by the time we arrived I was a ball of nerves. UEA looked much like I remembered it from the visit day I’d been on just a few months before, but with far more red faced fathers lugging boxes up stairways. We headed into the LCR, the student union venue, and as I collected my keys I had little idea how significant that room was to become for me in the coming weeks.
I turned out to be on the ground floor of my five-storey accommodation which was a relief considering the amount of stuff I’d managed to pack. After some emotional (on my dad’s part) goodbyes, I found myself alone in my new room. I’d seen my flat mates, all twelve of them, chatting in the kitchen earlier, but being the last to arrive I’d managed nothing more than a squeaky “hi” so far. I postponed joining my flatmates and drew out the unpacking process until one boy knocked on the door and half asked, half dragged me to join them. I expected to meet a group of fiercely independent, super cool, seasoned drinkers; in short I was terrified.
As it turns out meeting your flat is really not that scary. We all came from totally different backgrounds and getting to meet everyone and see how keen they were to be friends put me straight at ease; everyone else really is just as nervous as you! A few hours of excited conversation later and we started to get ready for the first night out of fresher’s week, one that had promised to be carnage since it’s first ticket release.
The buzz of that first night is something unbelievable. From our kitchen window we could see hundreds of other flats pre-drinking, hear the noise from the kitchens above us and the excitement was contagious; hundreds of new students, all strangers for now, but who would become a community of friends in just a few short weeks.
Two drunken hours later we stumbled into the LCR, the building where I’d collected my keys now transformed into a club, with banging music and bustling bars. We quickly picked up the university’s student anthem “Oh UEA, Is Wonderful” and the entire spirit of the night was overwhelmingly fun and exciting. For fresher’s week, it feels like every stranger is on your side and you may form some of your closest friendships, and fondest memories of the whole three years.
Of course everyone has their share of fresher drama; it’s a rare flat that doesn’t find at least two members entangled in a later cringed at kiss, someone taking a regretful dip in the freezing lake or all thirteen doing enough embarrassing things in the first night to last three years of teasing. It’s those silly moments though that end up forming friendships that can prove some of the most important you’ve ever had. The first few weeks of university are such an exciting time; you start your course, meet your friends, become independent and basically have the time of your life, so make the most of it! You’ll be nostalgic for those days when your dissertation roles around.
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