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Your first week at York

Image: Violet Daniels
Image: Violet Daniels
Image: Violet Daniels

Starting a new university in a foreign city with the familiarity of home taken away, can be a daunting prospect. However, most freshers will be feeling pretty similar. If you are reading this then you are probably one of the University of York’s Freshers for 2018, if so, welcome and congratulations on gaining your place to study here! Hopefully, this article will be informative, and ease some of those pre-anxieties that you may be feeling. 


On Freshers Week 

The University of York is widely known as a collegiate campus, as it is organised into distinct college communities. Freshers week is largely run within these set colleges, meaning, aside from campus wide events, Freshers week is really only experienced within that set college. Each college will have its own range of events – from traditional club nights to coffee shop crawls and smaller scale game nights. You can purchase your college Fresher’s wristband online. These allow you to access any of the events put on by your college. To go to any additional events, these have to be purchased separately.

Each year, students get conned (across the country, not just at York) into ‘fake’ Freshers events – so be on the look out and only buy tickets from events you know have been organised by the University or York University Student Union (YUSU).  All the details for events can be found on YUSU’s website.

No one can deny that clubbing is a big part of university culture and Fresher’s week in particular. York’s main clubs orientated towards students (and these will become house hold names I’m sure) are: Salvation (or ‘Salvo’), Fibbers, Mansion, Flares, Popworld and Kuda. Each carries their own ‘unique’ characteristics – from overtly sticky floors, to overpriced shots. Before your first night out it’s a good idea to be aware of the local taxis available and to check the 66 bus route (University of York’s own bus route ran by FirstBus) – no one wants to be stranded in town at 3am!

But Fresher’s week is not all about getting smashed and a clumsy night out – contrary to popular belief, it is easy to meet people just by attending Freshers fair (Saturday 29th September) and other non alcoholic events. It is easy to feel the pressure to go out every single night on Freshers, but be sure to prioritize yourself when it is needed, there is no shame in that and not everyone will want to go out every night.


On Food 

One of the main differences from leaving home, is that food, and feeding yourself, is now your complete responsibility! This can either be very good, or very bad (depending on your will power) with the lure of Nisa deals in the middle of campus. Depending on whether you are in catered or non catered accommodation, you’ll probably find yourself having to cook on multiple occasions daily. Takeaway should be consumed in moderation to save both your health and finance, although the lure of Efes on Heslington Road is sometimes too strong for some. University of York campus is near to some supermarkets but it is at least a 15 minute walk to most of them. Centered right on campus in Market Square is Nisa, and there is also one on Heslington East campus – Nisa is fine for the odd bits here and there, but don’t make a habit of doing your weekly shop there. In Fulford (near James and Halifax college) is an Aldi, Iceland and a small Sainsburys. Other than that, the best bet is probably online shopping. Sometimes it can be good to do a shop with your housemates, otherwise you will be spending a minimum of £40 to get delivery. No one wants to traipse into town on the bus to get their food shopping either.

Tinned food and frozen things will become your best friend as they’re cheap and last forever. Fresh food is great, but in reality it will probably go off before you can eat it or someone else will. Don’t label all your food in the first few weeks, it will only make a bad impression at the start. Wait until at least, week 6 of term if you can help it.


On Money 

Everyone is familiar with the broke student stereotype, but there are some ways you can attempt to budget and not be broke all of the time. If you can, try and set a weekly budget of what you can spend after all essential costs have been deducted from your student finance (rent/accommodation fees) and then divide it by the month and then week. It’s pretty easy to do but harder to stick to! There’s a good app called ‘Fudget‘ that keeps track of your income and outgoings every month and you can set your own budget. It seems tedious at first but might be worth investigating if you don’t want to be permanently broke. But in reality, if you have a student bank account, most providers will provide you with a free overdraft facility of £1000-2000 for emergency use. This can be helpful for instance, when your student finance does not cover the cost of your accommodation and your parents aren’t in a position to finance you. But – you will have to pay it back once you are no longer a student.


On what to take 

Whilst most people fall into a similar trap of taking too much stuff to university, and tend to bring more back with them as the year goes on, in reality we only ever need a handful of the things we plan to bring. When packing, always prioritize the essentials and if you need anything extra when you get to York, you can always buy it there. It will save transporting it and extra packing! Some important essentials not to forget include – an extension cable (there’s usually only one or two sockets in student rooms) and a hard drive to back up your university work.  A few home comforts; family photos, favourite pillows and such, would not go amiss either. After all, you’re going to be spending just over two months away from home. Another important thing is a clothes horse/dryer so you can hang your washed clothes up in your room to dry – as circuit laundry tumble dryers never really dry washing.


On York itself 

York itself is a great city – it is not too big or to small and boasts a intimate and historic feel. Saturdays can get very busy with locals and tourists on the prowl – but when living there, there’s plenty of time to explore. It’s about a thirty minute walk from central campus but the 66 bus route can take you into town from the Morrell library, there are lots of stops in town to get off at. Like most trendy cities, York has a number of popular places to eat, get coffee and go for drinks. Some of the well known eateries include: Cosy Club on Fossgate, York Roast Co on Stonegate (bringing national fame to the city) Dusk on New Street and Goji a vegan and vegetarian café on Goodramgate. York also boasts a number of cosy coffee shops including Bison’s on Heslington Road, Brew & Brownie on Museum Street, The Perky Peacock near the station and Fossgate social on, you guessed it, Fossgate. For drinks and cocktails, be sure to try Evil Eye on Stonegate and the Drawing Board on New Street.


Most importantly, be sure to enjoy your first term at York and be on the look out for The Yorker at Freshers Fair!