The freebie guide to freshers’ week

The freshers’ fair is a crucial staple of freshers’ week – wandering around a big hall or gazebo, 700 flyers in hand, trying to decide if you want to commit yourself to the Quidditch team or the Cheese Society. Make sure to go with an open mind, hungry tummy, and empty backpack. As well as being a great chance to discover all the different activities on offer, you’ll leave drowning in freebies.

Coupons and vouchers will come in handy later, but the physical giveaways are great for stocking up your room, kitchen, and pencil case. Whether you’re a returning student or you’ve just got your A Level results, check out our guide for the very best of the free haul! 

Click here for more advice on making the most of freshers’ week

Food glorious food

The people running every stall know that the foolproof way to a student’s heart is through their stomach. Both uni clubs and businesses will try to leave a sweet aftertaste with you, so look out for sweets, chocolates and doughnuts. At some campuses, you’ll find supermarkets handing out goody bags of student essentials like beans and noodles. Take them back to stock up your kitchen, and save money and stress later!

Domino’s and Pizza Hut visit a lot of freshers’ weeks with a deal for free pizza slices. If you see them, don’t hold back! Keep an eye out for deals and vouchers from other restaurant chains and local eateries. They’re all waiting to welcome you to your new home city.

Photo credit: Y. A. Photo, Shutterstock

Kitchen freebies

Look out for branded mugs, water bottles, flasks, and pint glasses. With enough random giveaways, you’ll be able to go a whole week without washing anything up – win! Some people find cooking utensils and other important supplies at the freshers’ fair, which will save you a desperate supermarket trip down the line.

Fridge magnets are surprisingly useful. How else would you stick up all your takeaway menus, or remind your flatmates that your leftover sushi is NOT up for grabs? Bonus points if they double up as a bottle opener or other device.

Gadgets and gizmos a-plenty 

While businesses and societies want to entice you in with food, they also want to gift you techie things you’ll actually appreciate and use. While you’ve probably got a set of headphones and a portable phone charger, it’s good to have a spare or two (or five!). Some stalls will also have things like USB sticks and splitters. We bet you’ve been meaning to buy yourself one of these but never got around to it, so take them all.

Freshers’ week stationery

Does anyone buy pens anymore? You’ll probably receive a lifetime supply of highlighters, biros, and other stationery handouts at the freshers’ fair. If you’re lucky, you might find an academic planner or a wall calendar. These will help you keep track of the whirlwind of activity that makes up a uni term.

While you can’t write with a stress ball, they’re (unfortunately) library essentials. Hang onto them and to anything else that could calm you down in an essay crisis. 

Photo credit: Firina, iStock

Miscellaneous

Brands will put their name on anything they can get you to carry around. It’s free advertising for them, but you’ll also benefit from a new pyjama T-shirt or a pair of socks. Tote bags are eco-friendly and useful for transporting your stuff around campus. And of course, umbrellas are a must-have in the unpredictable UK climate!

Some freebies new to the tables in 2021 might include masks and hand sanitiser gel. Whether you’re avoiding the freshers’ flu or something more sinister, stay safe and happy at uni with these supplies.

Catch us at your freshers’ fair! 

Proprep will be all over the country during freshers’ week 2021. We hope to see you at one of the following locations…

  • Uni of Edinburgh – 13th Sept
  • Uni of Glasgow – 14th Sept
  • Uni of Exeter – 17th Sept
  • LSE – 20th Sept
  • Uni of Manchester – 20th Sept
  • Uni of Leeds – 21st Sept
  • QMUL – 22nd Sept
  • Uni of Nottingham – 22nd Sept
  • Swansea Uni – 22nd Sept
  • Kings College London – 23rd Sept
  • Uni of Liverpool – 23rd Sept
  • Uni of Kent – 24th Sept
  • Uni of Surrey – 24th Sept
  • Uni of Bristol – 25th Sept
  • De Montfort Uni – 27th Sept
  • Uni of Warwick – 28th Sept
  • Newcastle Uni – 28th Sept
  • Cardiff Uni – 30th Sept
  • UCL – 2nd Oct
  • Imperial College London – 5th Oct
  • Uni of Oxford – 6th Oct

…and more! Can’t wait to meet you all!

Discover how to make the most of Freshers’ Week 2021

Freshers’ week – also called welcome week – is one of the highlights of the university calendar. It’s an immensely busy time, filled with new faces, important admin, and copious amounts of alcohol. Follow our guide to both survive and thrive during freshers’ week, and come out feeling confident and excited about the year ahead at university!

Photo credit: Prostock Studio, Shutterstock

Get the admin under control

First things first, try and get a copy of the events schedule for freshers’ week when you arrive, so you can plan ahead. You’ll probably have a few meetings to attend, such as welcome talks with your department and induction sessions with the library and sports facilities. Though these may sound a little boring, they’ll be super helpful in the long run. 

Check where your teaching spaces are, and locate your nearest supermarket, pharmacy, and other important shops. Some universities set a deadline by which you have to register with a new local GP, but even if yours doesn’t, register anyway! Especially in a year like this one, it’s important to know your health will be taken care of when you need it.

“So, what kind of things are you into?”

You’ve probably never been around so many new people from so many different places as during freshers’ week. Make sure to bring a doorstop, so your new neighbours feel comfortable popping their heads in and saying hello. Invite them in for a chat and a cuppa if you really want to win them over!

As well as hopefully bonding with the friends living around you, you’ll meet people on your course, older students, and countless others. Be prepared for a lot of Facebook adds, and having the same awkward opener conversation over and over. Also, make sure to choose a fun fact about yourself in advance for any classic freshers’ week icebreakers and get-to-know-you games.

It’s obviously great to be friendly to everyone you meet at university. However, lots of people feel pressure to become an immediate BNOC (big name on campus). Don’t give in to the panic! Everyone showing off their fun on social media is just as confused and nervous as you. You don’t need to make your best friends for life on day one – there’s lots of time to find your tribe.

Explore the freshers’ fair

The freshers’ fair generally happens over a couple of days during freshers’ week. It’ll give you the chance to learn about every society and extra-curricular activity on offer at your university. You can speak to student reps at each stall, and sign up for mailing lists so that you don’t miss upcoming events.

Extra-curricular activities are a great way to round out your CV when it comes to the job hunt. More importantly though, you’ll meet lots of new like-minded people and get some crucial chill time amidst the chaos of the uni term. Are you considering playing a new sport, getting involved in performing arts, joining a religious society, or something more niche? Whatever it is, we recommend throwing yourself into the fun and trying everything at least once!

Another thing to note about the freshers’ fair is that almost every brand and company will have special deals and rates for students. You’ll receive a ton of freebies, coupons and discount codes, so keep them safe and use them to save money later on. When out shopping, remember to ask if the shop you’re in gives student discounts. An NUS card or university ID can get you 10% off in most places (which almost makes the degree worth it).

Freshers’ week nightlife

When you picture yourself during freshers’ week, it’s probably dancing in a club surrounded by lots of sweaty fellow students. This year, universities are optimistic that students won’t need to miss out on the nightlife scene. However, it’s important to stay as smart and as safe as possible. As well as being COVID-aware, remember not to drink on an empty stomach. Keep an eye on your belongings (especially your drink), and don’t venture off alone in unfamiliar areas. If you do end up going a bit too hard, make sure to get some fluids and carbs in you the next morning. Exercising will be the last thing you’ll feel like doing, but sweating the alcohol out is an amazing hangover cure. If that sounds too ambitious, at least leave home for a walk to get some fresh air. 

The freshers’ week hype can make people who aren’t so crazy about clubbing feel a bit alienated. However, this doesn’t need to be the case. There are always a mix of different events on offer, especially in the wake of the pandemic. Night markets, movie marathons and yoga classes are more chilled alternatives that are really fun. While social events are planned for every moment of the week, don’t feel pressured to attend them all. Freshers’ week can be draining, and it’s important to acknowledge when you need some downtime.

Photo credit: Jacob Lund, Shutterstock

Help and support

Adjusting to university life is hard. It might seem that you’re the only one who feels anxious or homesick, but this is really the opposite of the truth. All universities will have dedicated and friendly welcome teams of older students there to guide you. Don’t be afraid to speak to them if you feel a little lost. They can listen without judgement, suggest events that you might enjoy, and direct you to the right services if you need further support.

Remember to eat well and keep yourself fuelled during freshers’ week to avoid illness or burnout. Try to avoid the dreaded freshers’ flu by taking plenty of vitamins. If you do think you’ve caught it, give yourself a day or two to recuperate before hitting the town again. If you think you’ve contracted anything more serious, don’t hesitate to contact a health professional or your uni’s pastoral care.

Click here to read our top tips for international students

What happens if freshers’ week goes virtual?

Large events are all dependent on the changing COVID-19 situation. Lots of unis have already moved faffy admin tasks online in response to the pandemic – a silver lining to this whole mess! However, they are reluctant to cancel the in-person freshers’ fair or other social activities. 

If something drastic changes and you do end up having to navigate freshers’ week through your laptop, try to keep an open mind. Although it’s not ideal to be meeting people and finding out about clubs and societies online, it’s definitely possible. Some unis have even organised virtual DJ sets, quiz nights and escape rooms. Hopefully you’ll have lovely flatmates and neighbours to bubble with, and if not, you can find people online who are in the same boat.

If your liver and your wallet are both a bit worse for wear when freshers’ week is over, don’t worry. As we said above, it’s great to try and make the most of the week, but remember that it won’t define your uni experience. Once teaching starts, things will calm down, and you’ll fall into more of a routine.