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Freshers’ Week 2020: better than expected

My Freshers’ Week was unusual, odd and utterly fantastic. Driving onto campus, I knew that my experience this year was going to be different, and somewhat underwhelming. I was pleasantly surprised. Clearly, I didn’t experience the clubs and massive raves that defined the freshers weeks in previous years, but as students who graduated during a global pandemic, we remain resilient. 

From the moment I arrived on campus, the impact of the virus was apparent, and frankly it was demoralising. From only having 20 minutes to move into my accommodation, to having to leave pubs at 10pm, the virus was always the elephant in the room. I found myself drinking earlier and earlier so that by 10pm, I wasn’t hauntingly sober and reluctantly trudging back to my flat to sit in my kitchen. Despite it being reassuring that social distancing and my health took priority, I knew immediately that I would have to be creative about meeting new people and adapting into the new environment. 

Regrettably, the ‘virtual’ events widely publicised by the Students’ Union did not make up for the fact that as a fresher, you’re often isolated (pun-intended), and the one thing you don’t want to be doing is sitting at your desk, watching a DJ set on livestream. The lack of in-person events was extremely disheartening, especially after I found out that other universities had set up socially distanced parties in hired marquees for their freshers.

I’ve come to realise that the more discouraging the news of the pandemic became, the more motivated freshers were to emulate the proper fresher experience

My first night in my flat was actually incredibly fun, I drowned my nerves with booze and bonded with my flatmates about how disappointing the ‘virtual’ events sounded. I’ve come to realise that the more discouraging the news of the pandemic became, the more motivated first-years were to emulate the proper Fresher’s experience. Freshers’ felt a lot more independent this year, which makes sense – there were no in-person events led by the university, so a lot more effort was needed to adapt to the new environment. Furthermore, I found that I could never make a solid plan without there being some sort of practical issue. 

Naturally, the virus did detract from my Freshers experience, but living in Rootes has definitely enabled me to socialise to a large extent. Considering the ‘Rootes reputation’, the accessibility of other blocks greatly helped me to integrate into the Warwick community. I can only imagine how hard it must be for freshers who either have unsociable flats or are in accommodations that are notably quieter. This leads me to believe that the so-called ‘Freshers’ experience’ is subjective, and unquestionably dependent on how keen you are to go out of your way to meet like-minded students. 

The so-called ‘Freshers’ experience’ is subjective

Truthfully, Freshers’ Week was exhausting for me. With the weight of Covid-19 on my mind, I always had to make such an effort to go out and meet people, whether it be at Pret, or the piazza. Yes, that makes me sound lazy, but it’s difficult coming onto a university campus where everyone is intelligent enough to make friends, but conscious enough to realise that party fines and a pandemic was still occurring. I spent half of my Freshers’ Week on my phone texting people on my course to hang out, only to find out that they were voluntarily self-isolating because they had come into contact with someone who had symptoms. Fair enough, but as you can imagine, the constant worry that the university you have spent a year thinking about might shut down can be draining. 

I remain optimistic about the prospect of having a ‘re-freshers’ in January, but as more flats on campus move into self-isolation, it’s getting harder to ignore the fact that I may have just spent much of my Freshers’ Week thinking about how it could have been better. 

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