Through the eyes of a ‘Fresher’

Abigail Bower a BA Geography second year student has written about her experiences last year during freshers and included a few handy tips for everyone starting with us this September.

‘Welcome to Sheffield! I’ve been asked to tell you a little about my freshers experience… It’s a little hazy now but I’ll see what I can do. I’ll try to think of some helpful tips along the way too, maybe some things I wish I was told before freshers started.

Primarily, I remember that freshers week was fun and went by so fast – its a complete blur. I spent most of my time getting to know people and getting lost…


Abigail Bower BA Geography

My first tip and possibly the most important one – Do as much as you can during freshers, everyone was telling me; “oh everyone is in the same situation, you’ve just got to go for it and talk to people” and honestly I didn’t really believe them but it’s completely true. The amount of people I talked to on the first few days was crazy. Just say yes! If someone asks you to go play steel drums with them – GO! If some asks you to join a weird and wonderful society with them – do it! Why not? Everyone is in the same boat so try to push yourself and talk to lots of different people – I assume most of you will be living in student accommodation so you will have no choice but to talk to people. My experiences were a little different as I was a home student, so if you’re in a similar situation to me, then try to get involved as much as possible.

There are a lot of different things going on in intro week not just binge drinking and partying as the stereotype may inform. It’s a good time to make friends and get to know Sheffield and the campus a little more, a lot of my friends (that aren’t Sheffield natives) were convinced the city ended at Primark… I can assure there is a lot more to Sheffield than West Street and Fargate, so have a wander – ride the 120 past Primark, have a tram ride, go to the Winter Gardens. During intro week the geography department arranged a couple of Quizzes to get us exploring the uni and the city (I’m sure you’ll have something similar) – I would definitely recommend these if not for the hunt then just to get talking to some other Geographers. Also, as you probably know Sheffield borders the Peak District and on the 27th of September there is a walk to Fox House, and although we had a bit of trouble with illness and I didn’t get home until 9pm after missing two busses and getting lost on the moors… we had a great time and I would highly recommend it, (it might be a good rest for your liver as well…)

The union also run ‘give it a go’ activities over the course of the year but I think its great to get involved in the first few weeks. From ballroom and Latin dancing to ghost walks, there are a variety of activities to get involved in! If you’re just wanting to find some like minded people or try something new, it’s a cheap way to do that and have some fun. Like I said why not? What have you got to lose by going Wake boarding at Rother Valley, or shaking your hips at salsa class?

One of the first things I noticed when starting uni is they expect you to read a lot… I begun to understand where the phrase “what are you reading at uni?” came from… Long gone are the days of reading textbooks and memorising them, sorry guys. On the topic of reading – Books! A lot of students buy books while at uni preferring their own copies to fighting for the ones in the library. Using the library wasn’t a problem for me, I just bought ‘The Dictionary of Human Geography’ and used the library for most of my other reading. The library is pretty efficient once you get the hang of it. I’d recommend the library workshop that is offered in intro week, that became really useful when I had to start trawling for journals for my first essay. Also if you do plan to buy books have a look at some of the second hand websites, i managed to get mine from a recent graduate – it can get very expensive, very quickly buying new books.

Referencing was also a shock to the system and a bit of a pain, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not too bad. Sometimes I dread writing the references more than the actual essay. I found a free app called ReferenceMe (on IPhone, possibly some others similar on other app stores) it allows you to scan the barcode of a book and gives you the reference in Harvard format… I found that very useful when I started. You get a whole lecture on referencing in the first few weeks so nothing to worry about!

During intro week you will also have to choose your unrestricted modules for first year. I found it all a bit overwhelming at the time i just didn’t have a clue what to do… Try to have a look at the modules beforehand as it might make it a bit easier on the day. Also I would have a think about what you might want to do in second and third year before choosing your first year modules because your second and third year module choices could be restricted if you haven’t taken the prerequisite modules. I fell victim to this and my second year modules were restricted – I couldn’t do a Bsc module because I only chose one Physical module in first year (stupid me!). So maybe just try to keep your options open if you are interested in both human and physical geography. Also, you could try something new? I tried a Journalism and psychology module in first year… And while realising I had definitely chosen the right degree subject, it was nice to meet some people from other subjects and experience a different department.

I hope I’ve given you some helpful advice? My take home message would be to have fun. Don’t forget if you ever have any questions or doubts there’s always someone you can talk to in the department or in the Student Union.

I would like to wish you all the best of luck in starting your degree at Sheffield…’


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