Think Rollins has an intense orientation week for incoming freshmen? Nope. Nope, not at all. We Americans are tame in comparison to the English tradition of Fresher’s Week. We were taken by surprise at how hard England goes when it comes to welcoming new students, but I guess our first hint should have been the campus-wide discounts on alcohol this week. Since the drinking age in Britain is a youthful 18, almost every fresher is able to drink legally. Not only are the campus bars running sales and specials, but the convenience stores also have their own bargains for all the pre-gaming an incoming fresher could hope for before catching one of the student union-sponsored buses to Lancaster’s main nightclub.
Despite the extremely laid back alcohol policies, the actual orientation sessions are mostly optional.
Though the Peer Mentors at Rollins are usually overworked trying to herd a bunch of freshmen to mandatory events, talks, and honor code signings, almost every orientation event here was optional. Even the talk on sex and consent wasn’t required. They only things that seemed to be truly compulsory were the lecture on how not to start a fire (important because we all have kitchens and are expected to use them) and class registration (important because duh). There was also a strange mandatory presentation with some tips about how to survive college life. The hour and a half long talk included fake stripping, juggling, dubstep, and an escape from a straitjacket.
Another important event was the fresher’s fair. We expected booths set up in a gym, similar to Rollins’ annual club fair, where we could get some helpful information on where to get involved and what clubs we might like to join. We rolled up twenty minutes late (with coffee) to find that there was a half a mile long queue—an hour and a half wait—just to enter the maze of booths and club demonstrations. Luckily, as we stood in line, many of the clubs did live demonstrations on the lawn. We saw the school’s competitive “pole exercise” team perform, the live action role-playing club go valiantly into battle, and the ultimate frisbee team chuck disks frighteningly close to our queue.
Technically, we are freshers, even if we’ve both been through all these talks and sessions at Rollins before as a junior and graduating senior. It’s our first year at Lancaster, and we are not afraid to go along to the activities that suit us—fresher’s fair, lectures, free lunches, and silent discos. But when it comes to these crazy late nights out we’ve been playing the upperclassmen, more content to sit in our room and watch Netflix, go to one of the on-campus restaurants, or play Pokemon Go late into the night. Hey, we never claimed to be cool.
Overall, we feel officially welcomed to Lancaster University, and are ready to start our classes. Now we’re off to our last fresher’s week activity: cake decorating! (In a bar, of course.)