BA (Hon)est: Graduate Advice #6: Being a Fresher

Starting University is one of the most exciting times of your life. You’re moving away from home to begin the adult part of your life – it comes with responsibilities such as budgeting, paying rent and the dreaded food shop. Or maybe you’ve chosen to stay living at home whilst you study – there’s still lots of fun to be had! Here are a few things that I learnt in my time as a creative student:

Explore. You’re going to be here for the next 3 years of your life so get out there and discover as much as you can. There will be the essential need-to-knows (supermarkets, hospital, library, train/bus station) but also other quirky things unique to the area. In Lincoln there was a lovely historic area with a castle, cathedral and cobbled streets filled with cute cafes and boutiques. There was also a (now disused) Mental Asylum (which I never got to see because it was deemed unsafe – boo), a beautiful riverside walk (which went on for miles with a little pub along the way) and a play centre which had a special adults/student play night for all you big kids out there! There were also a few other useful things that I discovered as a creative student (not relevant for everyone) including a rubber stamp company, a good printers( for large scale printing and because you can’t always rely on the University printers!), cheap crafty shops(because as amazing as Paperchase is, sometimes it’s not the cheapest!) and local studios and agencies.

Meet people. You will have so many opportunities to meet people – course mates, flatmates, societies, in coffee shops, in clubs, in the laundry room… and the list goes on! For some people this might be difficult, but be brave and talk to everyone. In my 1st year there was a massive group of my course mates (like 20+ of us) who would party together and those are some of my best memories. We didn’t have to get absolutely trashed because there were some amazing personalities that bounced off each other and made those nights amazing. I didn’t get into any societies but if there’s something you love (e.g. rounders or photography) you should definitely sign up to a society to meet like minded people. Also, I know that the older years are really scary… but actually they’re not! They’ve been in your shoes and you can learn a lot from them so try and befriend some if you can. I was lucky because the 3rd years organised a course night out, so we got to meet them with a little bit of dutch courage – it was a great night!

Go out. Going out is a rite of passage for all University students. Pre-conceptions are that you’re going out to get wasted, but you don’t have to drink to have fun so don’t feel pressured to neck shots and dance on tables – let someone else do that for you! Of course most Freshers will get drunk and have a good time, but just remember to be sensible too – you’re in a new place that you don’t really know so it’s easy to get lost. Don’t walk home on your own – stick with a group of people and if you’re getting a taxi home, make sure it’s licensed!  Taxi apps are all the rage nowadays so try UGO*, a family run business making your night out easier and safer. It’s simple to use, reasonably priced and expanding into most UK cities, so perfect for students #gethomesafely

Partying the night before a morning lecture. Let’s not pretend, we’ve all done it(and learnt my lesson)! Just make sure you’re prepared – water by your bed before you go out, orange juice and toast in the morning to soak the alcohol up and a hoodie so you can hide at the back of your lecture in shame!

Share the love. It’s scary moving away from home and a lot of people will get home sick and quit/go home every weekend. If you’re feeling lonely all you have to remember is that everyone is in the same boat! You will meet a lot of different people but you’re all going through the same thing. If you don’t know how to iron or the correct setting to make sure your clothes don’t shrink, just ask someone. It’s a great way to strike up conversations, meet people and swap skills – you will know something they don’t so help each other out!

Fresher’s Flu. There’s no escaping it, you WILL get fresher’s flu because even if you’re not partying like crazy, it sniffles and sneezes spread in lectures. Look after yourself; eat well, get enough sleep and drink lots of tea because tea makes everything better(unless you don’t like tea). It’s amazing what a decent meal can do for you so invite your friends round, cook a roast together and then cosy up under duvets for a film night – lovely!

Free stuff. However hungover you may be, don’t miss the Freshers fair. There’s not many times in life where you can blag things so take full advantage because people want to give you free stuff! Leaflets(mainly rubbish), vouchers(money off Dominoes, free drinks etc), sweets and other random things including fridge magnets, coasters, pens, CDs, lanyards, bottle openers, pint glasses and blow up objects. Most of it will be absolute rubbish (make sure you recycle all that paper!) but there will be some really useful discount vouchers, competitions and who can resist a free pen?

You’re the weird one. As a creative student, you will probably have to do some things that will look a bit weird to your flatmates e.g. stand on a chair to take photos of your work and use the corridor to draw on a 5 metre roll of paper. It’s ok, they will come to accept it and maybe even love it too because they will probably just write essays. But you’re a creative so your room will be like an Aladdin’s cave. You obviously need a million sketchbooks, drawers full of stationery, random off-cuts of cardboard (for taking photos against obviously!), weird materials (from tin foil to string) and a rainbow of pens – because WHO KNOWS what task your tutors are going to set you!? From cake baking to instrument making (ahh, that rhymed) as a 1st year on a creative course your tutors will set you the weirdest projects to get your mind buzzing and creative juices flowing.

Party vs. Uni work balance. 1st year is all about having fun, meeting people and finding your feet, but it’s also about learning too. If you don’t go to lectures and don’t do any of the work you won’t make it onto your 2nd year so will either have to re-take or give up the Uni dream and go home. You probably won’t have that many lectures in your schedule, (for creative students it’s usually studio work and then 1 lecture for design theory) which means you have the rest of the time to do your work. Fashion, Graphic Design and Architecture are notoriously known to be work-heavy courses and we all know that good work takes time to produce so you will have to plan for that. I used to go to my friend’s flats/meet at the library to do work in a group which was fun and we could bounce ideas off each other. Even trips to the library can be fun 🙂

Have the time of your life. You’re only young once and University is bloody expensive (you’re going to be paying it off for the rest of your life!). Have an amazing time but don’t forget that you’re there to get a degree and form the foundations of your career!

Good luck – I hope you enjoy University as much as I did. It’s not for everyone, but hopefully you’re sticking at it and will create some great memories!

P.s. All of these photos are from my University experience between September 2010 and September 2013! Take a step back in time and read all about the projects and fun things I got up to using my archive(drop down menu).

* This post is sponsored by UGO to promote their student friendly taxi app to make nights out safer. Anything that is going to keep students safe sounds like a brilliant idea to me! *


  • Molly

    06/10/2014 at 11:43 pm

    Just found your site through wordpress’s recommended bloggers list! I’m a fashion design student right now, and it’s great hearing that others have gone through the same design freshman experience.

    Specially related to the “weird roommate” freshman year – I ended up doing random art projects till crazy hours in the morning with the roommate looking at me oddly.

    Just started my own site recently – I’d love it if you stopped by.

    • Natasha Nuttall

      09/10/2014 at 7:01 pm

      Hi Molly – thanks for stumbling upon my blog! Glad you enjoyed the post and could relate – I look back on those memories very fondly now ha
      Brilliant – yes I’ll pop over to your blog now 🙂

  • Megan

    15/09/2015 at 9:34 pm

    Absolutely loved this, your photos definitely do the talking for an amazing uni experience! I’ve featured you in my latest university post, I hope that’s okay! x

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