To my first year self…

Dear Fresher Shelf,

You are 18, clutching an acceptance letter from the University of Warwick to your chest. The most advice the internet seems to be offering you is whether or not you should bring a kettle.

Right now all you know is that you want to be a journalist and are hopeful that when you graduate you’ll have a First, a six pack and a graduate scheme contract.

You will do none of these things. You have no idea that the next three years will change you completely; no idea that you’ll start downing pints from shoes and chanting in the streets. You will abandon your journalist dreams to become a fun- draiser instead.

Rather, before you leave Warwick you will learn some very important lessons…

You will learn to laugh at yourself.

Before long you will learn that ‘campus bubble’ means that word spreads fast. If you don’t tell people the stories of what happened to you, someone else will.

You will have to own the time that, trying to soothe razor burn, you fake tanned your whole neck thinking it was moisturizer. You’ll find out one of your friends is terrified of dogs and change the acronym BNOC (Big Name on Campus) to BDOC (Big Dog on Campus) every time you see them.

You will make ridiculous Twitter accounts such as @warwickrg2015 to document out of context in-jokes and keep your own account pseudo-professional.

You’ll make so many jokes with others about being Oxbridge rejects that you’ll stop caring. You’ll learn that your jokes are funnier if you’re laughing too.

You will learn to write things down.

You will notice, one drunken night to the next, that your memory isn’t what it used to be, but that finding a note on your phone that says “my dad says I’m not bi, I’m just doing it to be more left wing” will be funny long after you have forgotten the context.

You will make an adventure book, you will make lists, and you will make a WordPress.

You will write notes about exec meetings and forget to chase them up.

You will learn the definition of the phrase “take a picture, it’ll last longer” – because trust me, you’ll want to remember what he looked like in the morning…

You’ll learn to trust your instincts. 

You will create codes with your friends for when you’re uncomfortable. Whether in a club, in a car or in a lecture, asking ‘how Alice is’ will quickly get you out of anywhere.

You will start to cut out people that behave unacceptably and you will realize that your true friends will stick by you through everything.

You will get the grad ball ticket against the protests of your bank account – because YOGO (you only graduate once).

You will, on a particular night in second year, try and defy your instincts and prove that the Koan can in fact be climbed. You will learn that it cannot.

You will learn to throw yourself into everything, societies, challenges, beds and sometimes even lectures.

You will make a university bucket list – ‘the Campus 50’ – full of items such as to pull a postgraduate and to make a difference to a society. You will nail these challenges with friends.

On the third day of Freshers you’ll go to a social and one day end up President of the society that ran it. You will win elections. You will lose elections. You will see that brick walls exist to let you prove how badly you want things.

You will learn to make the most of every night, especially every POP! You will learn to love Disco Dave without a hint of irony and you will be come the most confident version of yourself you have ever been.

You’ll learn that Warwick University is the opposite of loneliness.

You will learn to abuse quotes from sources as varied as Yale Daily News, John Green and anyone else you think you can get away with misquoting in Terrace Bar.

You will find your tribe and exist in group chats, late night snacks and little white lies; your friends will claim, three years later, that they have “never seen you smash a pint”. You will roll your eyes, but drink it any way.

There is far more to your time at Warwick University than this: you will also meet the most incredible people, then spend 15 minutes explaining to them that Westwood actually isn’t that far away, hear some of the best speeches of your life (such as Silkie Cragg’s speech at Society Awards 2013) and realize how much more there is to life after university.

There is so much that you cannot expect yet, so much I can’t put into words.

I expect I’ll be writing a letter to my graduate self in a few years time saying much of the same thing. But man, you will love what’s in store for you. Even the worse parts will make hilarious stories if you spin them the right way.

So drink up Fresher, it’s time to learn.

Yours in envy and admiration,

Andy King (Big Dog on Campus)


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