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Freshers’ week stress

Starting college can give you that small fish in a big pond feeling. But, taking advantage of Freshers’ Week can help. Caitrina gives us her account.

Every morning during my first few months in college, I’d stare longingly at the student newspaper office door on my way to my locker in the UCD Arts Block.

freshers' week stallsSometimes it would be open, giving me a glimpse into a tiny, cluttered room, usually stuffed with people, chatting and drinking coffee.

More often it would be closed, causing me to imagine all sorts of interesting high pressure situations within, as stories were broken and headlines were made.

Will I / Won’t I?

I’d missed my chance to get involved with the paper during Freshers’ Week. The newspaper stand in the Freshers’ Tent didn’t have any free stuff to give out, any leaflets that I could idly pick up and leaf through, while feigning disinterest.

So I’d bypassed it on each circuit of the tent, unable to pluck up the courage to talk to any of the older students manning the stand with a sign-up list, all looking bored – or at least that’s how they looked to me.

I left the tent in defeat with my goodie bags, a proud member of the English Soc, DramSoc, the Philosophy Society and lots more, too embarrassed to approach the one organisation that really attracted me.

College stress

All over the country this month, students will be negotiating the obstacle course that is Freshers’ Week.

The idea is a great one – it’s obviously easier to make new friends if you get involved in clubs and societies, meeting people with similar interests.

But as a first year student in UCD, I felt like those clubs and societies were full of confident, unapproachable people. They all seemed to know each other and what they wanted from life. I felt like it was easier to hide out in the library rather than try and bridge the huge gaps that seemed to divide me from everyone else.

Feeling overwhelmed

It’s important to remember though that other students, while appearing impossibly self-assured, are often just as confused and overwhelmed inside.

Taking the plunge

Eventually, in my case, a good friend, who knew how eager I was to write for the college paper took matters into her own hands. Passing by the door one morning, she reached out and knocked loudly and winked at me. She then raced around the corner to her own locker, leaving me rooted to the spot like a sacrificial victim.

Forcing myself to smile as the door swung open was the hardest part. Once I’d introduced myself, it was pretty obvious why I was there. I left with a story to write, a deadline and somewhere to go on my next break between lectures.

First step

Freshers’ Week can be a pain in the neck. Everyone else looks like they’re having loads of fun, while you feel like a tiny fish in a huge pond. Starting college is hard enough, without having to look like you’re the life and soul of the party.

Sticking with it can be well worth it though. Knocking on that door, or signing that sheet, even though you really don’t want to, could be the first step towards making new friends and finding something you enjoy doing with them.

Don’t panic and take your time. Those societies will be there all year, so Freshers’ Week won’t make or break your time in college, it’s just a handy place to get started.

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