What’s it like to be a Fresher and what do the Hatfield fresh get up to?

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By Morgan H. Thomas (Junior Rep)

Arriving on the first Sunday of October is inevitably daunting. I had the authentic experience of a 4-and-a-half-hour car journey with my whole family; arguments, disputes, and reassurance to the back drop of increasing nervousness as we made it further and further up North.  The worst part of the journey is sitting in the car queue, in a park and ride just outside the city centre. Like everyone else, you spend your time subtly trying to check out the other students from the corner of your eye thinking…. ‘he could be my roommate!’. The butterflies had kicked in.

Getting into college is a relief as much as it is a rush. The Bailey is a zone of absolute madness; car-loads fully of student equipment everywhere. As soon as you turn up to Hatfield, a group of very warm faced Freps come and greet you, grabbing your key from the porter’s office and helping you move all your car load into your room. Fortunately, being on the bottom floor I didn’t put the Freps through their paces as much as those students placed on the top floor of C stairs did.

The next nervous adventure is meeting your roommate for the first time. Mine had left his number on a memo that read, ‘I’ve gone to the pub’… immediately we had something in common. From there onwards I didn’t meet him for a good four hours, with the only impression I had him being a mere fresh-faced family photo. I reckon I looked at it for a good five minutes, trying to work out what kind of bloke he was…  He had a tweed jacket in his wardrobe, so I knew he was here or there a country boy. When I finally met him, I was mid-way undressed which I guess was a fitting way for him to get to know me. A warm hug, a joke and a quick sit-down chat was all it took for me to take my first step and feeling settled in my new home. 

The first day of fresher’s is the most difficult day. There is a lot of standing in people’s rooms awkwardly, asking generic questions such as ‘where are you from?’, or ‘what are you studying’?  Yet, these impressions made during these tentative engagements go some way in making good mates at Hatfield.

Then the evening; we had white T shirt UV party. Some of the names signed on my white t-shirt I have no clue to who they are; but that’s all the fun in meeting new people and getting increasingly drunk while doing it. And there sums up the first night; getting very drunk with people you don’t know. It’s both interesting, entertaining, and a slightly odd experience. 

The week flies by!... it’s a mix of sitting in introductory lectures very hungover and wishing you could be anywhere else (although the information provided in this period is important in finding your feet during the first weeks of your course), getting showed around college in the early hours after the 6 am fire-alarm wake up and endless social events in college, with the add-on of a quick tour of Durham’s clubs. Social events vary from anything to fancy dress to a mystery pub-crawl. All of which was complemented by the tea and toast at the late hour in college; the best place to meet people in their finest drunk form after a night out. 

Overall, the experience can be daunting at first, but it’s surprising how quick you find your feet. Especially if you have a roommate, you have an instant friend and from there it is easy to network. Everyone was very warm and eager in talking to new people and within 3 days you feel right at home at Hatfield. The Staircase/accommodation pre-drinks later in the week are also a great opportunity to meet people and bond over a few shots and the general excitement of the night ahead. 

The other impressive factor of a Hatfield fresher’s week is the constant attention given by the Freps, whether providing water and food outside clubs or directions to lectures. The support system is outstanding and there is never a moment when they are not ready to help out in making your time settling-in any bit easier.

And of course, seven nights of clubbing, drama, drinking and socialising never goes amiss.