This post was written by an external contributor. Elisabeth Griffiths has nine ways for all students to stay safe during those initial nights out in Freshers’.
Freshers’ can be the most adrenaline-filled week you go through during your first year of university. It’s the time to meet people, sign up to a hundred societies and — for a lot of new students — to drink a lot.
I’m not going to tell you not to drink, because… well, you probably wouldn’t need this if you weren’t planning to! All I want to do is to offer a few tips and tricks on staying safe while you’re getting your Freshers’ groove on.
Drink plenty of water
During my time at uni, I always kept a simple two litre bottle of water by my bed and tried to drink as much of it as possible before I fell asleep after a heavy night, especially if I hadn’t had enough water while I was out.
You’ll hear this tip everywhere, and that’s for a good reason! Avoid the hangovers and messy nights with this simple adjustment.
Know your limits
You may have already been going on nights out for a while, but you may be brand new to drinking too. Try to ease yourself in and avoid the temptation to go all-out your very first night at uni!
Pro tip: if you’ve just done a shot and you’re not feeling it, don’t jump straight into five more. Expecting to feel the alcohol immediately – and drinking hard until you do – is likely to end badly. Believe me. I’ve been there.
Don’t rely on your “Freshers’ friends”
Friends from home who you’ve known for years might be willing to peel you out of the gutter and persuade a taxi driver to take you home, but someone you’ve known for two days probably isn’t going to.
Aim to never let yourself get into the state where you can’t get yourself home if you need to. But if it does happen, keep on reading for how to stay safe in this event.
Don’t feel pressured into sex
No matter what anyone says, you don’t need to hook up with someone right away if you don’t wish to.
Of course if you do want to, always use protection. You don’t want any unexpected surprises during your first year, trust me. Your SU will have somewhere you can go to pick up free condoms so it’s worth a quick trip to make sure you’re being safe.
Go out with a society
If you’re out with a society group, there are usually older students around who you can go to if you’d had too much to drink. They’ll be keeping an eye on “their” freshers and will be there for you if you’ve had a bad night or just need a friendly face to depend on.
Be warned, though – university societies are notorious for their initiation rites for freshers, so it’s worth checking with friendly older society members what you might have to go through if you do end up joining.
Be there for your new friends
Just as there may be nights when you have had too much drink and need someone to look after you, try to be there for your new friends if they’ve had more to drink than you.
If they’re halfway decent people, they’ll do the same for you when the roles are reversed. If they don’t, then you know who to move on from when Freshers’ is over!
Know what your options are for getting home
Check out your Student Union’s website and social media platforms in advance to see what’s on offer and what deals the uni have done to help you.
When I was at Cardiff Uni, for example, they had an agreement with a reliable taxi service where a student could always call a taxi to come and pick you up even if you didn’t have any money on you, and then you could go into the SU the next day and pay it back.
Get someone to keep an eye on you virtually
It’s usually a bad idea to walk or take a taxi home alone, but sometimes you can’t avoid it. Luckily WhatsApp now has a Live Location feature, so if you’re stuck in this situation get hold of a sober friend, a parent, anyone you trust to watch over you.
Tell them your planned route, start broadcasting your location, and if you stop or deviate from your planned route, they’ll know something’s wrong. If you’ve just paused for some chips, then you can message them so they don’t call the police and cause a ruckus at the fried chicken van.
Try to take the following night off
There’s no shame in having a night in with pizza getting to know new flatmates and recharging your batteries, and you’ll feel much more ready to party the next night!
Worried about Freshers’ or just want to talk about what might be coming your way? Check out our University Life section or drop us a line on social.