Fifteen Survival Tips for Freshers

With the international students already busy settling in to their new surroundings and in advance of the influx of other freshers arriving from tomorrow onwards, our fundraising and events officer Chelsea lets you in on our top tips for staying physically, mentally and emotionally on point for Freshers’ Week! 

-Chelsea Leigh

1. Get to know your flatmates

Whether it’s through the dreaded game of “never have I ever” or just jumping right in there with a thousand questions, I can’t stress how important this is. It’s natural to be shy when first introduced but do your best: you’re going to be living with these people for an entire year and they may end up being your closest friends! They are the ones who will comfort you when you’re homesick, hold your hair back when you had one too many, and sit through movie marathons with you all day in PJ’s.


2. Get involved

I know you’ve heard this a million times already but it is so true. First year is the time to experience new things and find out what you enjoy. You don’t have to go to every single social but try some new things and if you enjoy them, pursue them. Check out the societies fair in the SU on Wednesday and Thursday to get an idea of all the different activities there are to try your hand at. Being part of a group of like-minded people can do wonders for your confidence!

3. Don’t do anything you feel uncomfortable with

I know YOLO is the unofficial Freshers tagline, but in all honesty you are not going to be judged for not wanting to do something you feel uncomfortable with. If you don’t like to drink, then don’t. There are plenty of opportunities during fresher’s week to have fun without alcohol. Look out for chilled freps for fun, more relaxed events in your college. Or just go out and get your boogie on! You’ll have the fun, WITHOUT the hangover. BONUS!

4. It’s natural to be homesick

Take some time out of your day to call or text home to talk to your family. It’s great to throw yourself into university life but don’t be afraid to do so whilst also finding comfort in a familiar voice.

5. Find someone in your college who does your degree/modules

It is always handy to have someone to walk to lectures with, or text when you’re completely lost five minutes before your first lecture starts (guaranteed to get anyone in a flap.)


6. Take advantage of the Freps and porters

If you need any advice or are worried about anything, your college freps are there to help! Remember that they’ve been through the process and have applied for their role just so that they can help you do the same. The porters are there for any practical issues you may have moving in- getting locked out is almost inevitable at some point in your first year.

7. Keep an eye on your budget

If you’re anything like me, when your maintenance loan comes in and you see that comma in your bank account you’ll think you’re a Kardashian and can spend, spend, spend. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t so lucky. Enjoy your financial freedom but be careful! A spreadsheet of expenses can never hurt.

8. Embrace the crazy fancy dress

Durham is big on fancy dress. Even if you don’t want to go on the nights out there is nothing more exciting than getting out of your own personality for the night and having some wacky fun in a ridiculous outfit (or sexy – whatever floats your boat). There is literally no shame!


9. Decorate your room

Make your room homely. You will most likely spend a lot of time in there and when you’re missing home there’s nothing worse than staring at blank walls. Put up some photos, posters, fairy lights… whatever you need to make it somewhere you can wind down and  feel comfy!

10. Explore Durham

It is a beautiful city, and its small size just makes it easier to settle in! The iconic Cathedral is well-worth a visit and there are endless cute cafes and tea-shops dotted through the city centre. The boats on the river are a treat and a wander around the market hall can yield some great gifts to take home (or just to treat yoself!). The river paths and the Botanical Garden are perfect if you fancy some quiet time, or just a wander in nature.


Is there anything us students live for more than naps? Make sure you are getting a decent amount of sleep. Freshers week is exhausting with there being so much going on but if you can sneak a cheeky nap in there, DO!

12. Don’t feel obliged to take part in everything

There is so much going on during fresher’s week, but it’s okay not to try and do everything. There will be plenty of opportunities to have fun this year so don’t feel that you have to fit it all into the one week.

13. Don’t be afraid to seek support

If you are someone who has an existing struggle with mental health issues, or if you find yourself struggling for the first time, be aware that there is so much support for you. Within your college, there will be a Student Support Officer and a Student Welfare Team happy to help. The University Disability and Counselling Services located in the Palatine Centre are also well worth a visit and it might be an idea even to let your flatmates know so they can keep an eye on you. Don’t forget about the resources pages we provide as well!

14. Freshers flu is real!!!

COME PREPARED! Stock up on tissues, paracetemol, strepsils and herbal tea. You’ll be thankful to your past self when you’re lying in bed regretting all those late nights.



Freshers Week will be one of the most hectic, exciting times of your life. There is so much going on and so many activities to try your hand at. Live in the moment and take advantage of this time- it only comes around once!

BONUS TIP: Remember there’s nothing wrong with you if you’re not having fun!

The activities in freshers week are designed to be fun and enjoyable, however the stress of meeting new people and living in a new environment can override this. If you feel like you aren’t enjoying freshers as much as you should that is perfectly okay as many others will be in the same boat. If going out every night isn’t for you then don’t force it, there are so many other ways of spending your freshers week that if you aren’t enjoying one then try another. Don’t feel that you are ‘wasting’ Freshers if you want to do it your own way. Not everyone’s experience is meant to be the same.

Heads Up is holding a #BestNightIn in the Durham Student Union on 11th October, 7-11pm. Feel free to join the event page and come say hi. 

If you’d be interested in submitting a post for our blog, please contact our Facebook group page or email us at 

Keep your head up!


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