Freshers’ week (or welcome week as it’s officially known at UEA) is, for most students, an essential rite of passage one will undergo in the transition from home life to independent living.
You’ve all heard what it’s like: meeting and living with a plethora of new people; signing up to a shed load of societies at the Societies Fair; consuming copious amounts of alcohol and learning more about drinking games in the space of seven nights than you will about your entire course in three years.
It’s difficult to imagine the concept of a first week of university existing without all the fresher events, but, whether you like to believe it or not, the first years at Oxford University in 1167 didn’t have ring of fire to keep them “preoccupied” for an evening.
Firstly, you may be wondering how and why freshers’ week has developed as a concept, and the answer lies with the lack of technology.
Prior to the phenomenon that is online registration, students had to complete their registration manually, meaning there was a lot of waiting around (and you thought queing for clubs was bad). Returning students recognised that new students were becoming bored and therefore began organising events for the new students to participate in.
A significant, and also sometimes controversial, aspect of freshers’ week are sports club and society initiations.
Although we may now be more acquainted with stories of dirty pints and a streak through the Square, back in the early 1900s new students competed in blindfolded boxing matches and also found themselves covered in paint and axel grease.
Moving rapidly toward the 21st century and we’re even making our traditions here at UEA. Freshers’ Fair, SocMart and SportsFair are all part of the daytime events you can attend on campus and, if the weather is as lovely, as it was last year, the Square is a really cool place to hang out with friends.
We have returning acts coming to the LCR in the evening too. Zane Lowe has been a regular attendee in the past few years and Steve Starr also looks to be in the Union’s plans for a while. The (nearly) famous regurgitator from Britain’s Got Talent returns to the Welcome Party for a third year.
There are also plenty of inaugural socials, including Concrete’s annual Big Meet, so make sure you immerse yourself fully in the UEA experience and make the most of the week – you’ll only ever have one freshers’ week!
And, don’t forget, “UEA is wonderful” – if you’re not sure what that means, you will soon.
Photo: Welcome Bash 2011 – LCR.