Now that I am entering week 6 of school here in California, it’s been weird seeing my friends getting back to Leicester, and fresh students just starting their university adventure. Leicester Freshers Fortnight, for me, was super exciting as I had some of my first proper nights out and bonded with my housemates at an accelerated rate, with the help of copious amounts of alcohol and 4am pizza. Of course, there are still all kinds of exciting things to do during Freshers Fortnight that don’t revolve primarily around drinking, but especially since experiencing a completely different kind of culture in America, there is no denying that British uni culture is almost synonymous with drinking culture (please don’t worry if you don’t like drinking, it’s not that bad!).
Here in America, drinking is illegal until you’re 21, Freshmen tend to be 17 or 18, and tied in with the fact laws are generally much stricter here, you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster if you want to bring British Freshers here. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of students don’t take this law too seriously and there are still plenty of parties, it’s just a much less official, all-inclusive way of doing things and by something of a contrast to the UK, you need to make your friends before you drink here hahahah. (Don’t mistake this for me condoning drinking underage!)
At CSULB, a whole host of events was put on during ‘Week of Welcome’, and they were a lot of fun! I personally really enjoyed the outdoor cinema screening of Jurassic World – it was amazing sitting on campus, surrounded by trees and dorms, experiencing what felt like a classic American movie scene. Red Vines were sold, which reminded me of a scene from Friends where Ross bought Twizzlers/Red Vines for the movie theater (Please excuse, Americans are trying to teach me to spell everything wrong). But I sort of have to keep catching myself when I realise that I am really here, right in what has always previously seemed to me like a sort of fantasy.
A couple of organised parties were also held in various places on campus and although they started early by British student standards (about 6pm to 10pm) and no alcohol was allowed, they were a lot of fun and I found that Americans still know how to party and socialise without alcohol. I feel like, in some ways, making some of my friends this way helped me to boost my own confidence. And it’s just been so much fun experiencing real American college (and this was before I even went to a frat party).
Another important part of Freshers in the UK is Freshers Fair, which I recommend everyone go to! I went last year and signed up to almost every society I saw (probably a bit excessive). Although I didn’t end up joining them all, speaking to people with interesting hobbies and learning some of the university’s opportunities gave me a great boost in motivation. Here at CSULB, the Welcome Fair was really similar – free stuff everywhere (!) and lots of interesting people and things to learn about. I actually joined the Cheer Club, which I’ll speak more about in another post. 🙂
Although different, ‘American Freshers’ was so, so interesting for me and I managed to make friends and really enjoy myself. It might be a bit daunting to do it differently, but honestly I recommend it, throwing yourself into a bit of the unknown can be so rewarding.