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Why The Telegraph's '11 things girls should avoid doing in freshers' week' is a load of rubbish

25th September 2013

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Freshers’ week advice articles, of course, are everywhere at the moment. A quick Google search can provide you with answers to all those questions that are currently burning a hole in your brain: how will you make FRIENDS? What should you SAY when you’ve found some potential ones? Will you SURVIVE freshers’ week?

We’d just hazard a guess at, well, yes. Because a week of small talk, Blu-Tacking up posters, form-signing and (probably) drinking isn’t actually going to be that taxing. Honestly.

Still, when the entire internet is bombarding you with freshers’ related nuggets of wisdom, it can be hard to filter the metaphorical wheat from the chaff. Thank goodness, then, for The Telegraph, which yesterday published what must be an absolutely definitive list of freshers’ week don’ts. Just for girls, though. (Because boys have it all sorted...?)

‘11 things girls should avoid doing in freshers’ week’ is an enlightening read. Also, it’s kind of infuriating. So, female freshers of world, here’s what The Telegraph’s ‘Wonder Women’ advise you don’t do in the next couple of weeks... because you don’t want to “make the same mistakes” that they did.

1.       Sexual confession drinking games are a load of lies.

So most people are lying over Never Have I Ever, out of fear of being outed as the only university-aged virgin left on planet earth.  Whilst we agree that it’s not a great idea to start your university career by spewing an unlikely story about that time you had sex with half a football team on the roof (or whatever your dubious lie of choice), we do think that a little bit of over-exaggeration is expected in freshers’ week. Everyone wants to fit in and appear enthusiastic/adventurous/independent - so don’t judge others if you feel their stories are a bit far-fetched. We’re sure you’ll bend the truth slightly at some point, without it becoming a pathological condition. We’re all human, and with plentiful alcohol and the pressures that the week brings you’re probably going to slip up. Don’t judge yourself too harshly when you do.

2.       You do not need to behave like a lad to get friends.

Oh hey, Telegraph! We have a revelation that might surprise you: some girls like ‘crude banter’/’funnel drinking.’ Maybe some girls EVEN like rugby, or are willing to make an effort to be interested in it (even though it isn’t something a young lady should really be seen to enjoy) because university is a place where you can discover new things/people and, you know, widen your pool of interests from sitting around having chaste conversations whilst drinking chardonnay and complaining about boring old sports being on TV.

3.       Club initiations will seem like fun at the time...

We’d agree that you probably don’t want to spend three years around people who are “trying to get you drunk and naked”, but you’ll probably realise this yourself. You’re adults now and are hopefully capable of making your own decisions. If you want to partake in some naked/scantily clad jelly wrestling, go for it. Chances are, if you’re determined to be initiated into a uni drinking society being told that it’s “not a great idea” by The Telegraph isn’t going to put you off.

4.       Please stay away from all beauty pageants, especially the ones which demand the winner to get naked.

...because it’ll forever haunt you via Facebook/YouTube/Twitter/Instagram/the internet in general. Although we actually think that throughout your university career potentially worse things than you being crowned ‘Miss Uni 2014’ might crop up on your news feed on booze-hazy weekend mornings. 

As a side note – do university beauty pageants actually exist? If they genuinely do, fair enough. We didn’t know they were a thing.

5.       Beware of mock essay deadline panic.

I.e., don’t begin making a vague plan of your essay at 9pm the night before deadline day because everyone else has spent the last three weeks moaning about how they’ve got so much work and are going to be overdosing on ProPlus in the hours before it’s due in the marking box. Good advice, of course. Except, really – you’re in uni now, you’ve applied and secured a place, and successfully passed your A-levels in order to physically get there. Please tell us you’re above this?

6. Chill out - instant couples are so smug, annoying and fake.

Top advice here: don’t believe in the fact that your friends’ new relationships might last, because you’re jealous and that’s the most mature way to deal with things.

7.       Do not become a gap yah bore.

We’re not saying you should go all Orlando on your new flatmates (obviously), but chances are a good number of people will have travelled before uni. If you meet such people it would be ridiculous to avoid talking about your adventures; chances are they’ll want you to share and they will then do so in return. Travel is enriching and talking about mutual experiences is how human beings bond. Just remember to pick your audience.

8.       Leaving your room door open has its downsides.

This one is hardly rocket science – leave your door open (buy a doorstop) when you’re open to conversation; close it when you’re working. No one is going to wander in uninvited when faced with a firmly shut door.

9.       House hunting decisions are political and must be paced.

Leave house-hunting until you know whom your real friends are, says The Telegraph. Fair enough. But we’d add, not so late that all the habitable houses are gone, lest you end up 12 miles away down an alleyway littered with rat droppings and broken glass. Also, deciding on your housemates and finding somewhere to live is only political if you make it so.

10.   Fancy dress is a rite of passage. Just keep away from the tiny Santa look.

Again, the social media presence. If you go out dressed as a ‘tiny Santa’ Facebook will be your enemy in years to come. Except, it probably won’t – as long as you’re not exposing yourself/doing anything morally questionable whilst in your ‘tiny Santa’ outfit. We’re not a fan of monitoring our dress out of fear of unrelated people’s opinions, here at TNS. Why should we be shamed for going out dressed as ‘tiny Santas’? This ain’t Iran. Wear your ‘tiny Santa’ costume with pride. Also, we’d like to credit anyone that unexpectedly comes across your pictures in the future with enough intelligence to realise that this probably isn’t your everyday look.

11.   Wear more clothes.

Or, you know, wear whatever you want? Although the actual advice here is to take a coat. But that’s not what the title suggests. It suggests that we should largely cover up our skin. As do tips three, four and 10, in their own way. So, almost half this list is telling female students to cover up. It might as well be re-titled ‘Put your skin away, girl freshers, it’s dirty!’ Are we the only ones who find this kind of worrying?

Blatantly, the main problem with The Telegraph’s list is that it’s aimed at just girls. Why does this advice need to be gender specific? Are male freshers not at risk of lying about their sexual history, getting involved in club initiations, or going out in revealing fancy dress? Or does it just not matter as much for them?

The implication that male freshers don’t need to be given these pearls of wisdom (validity of them aside) suggests that it is a girl’s responsibility to change her behaviour in order to satiate others, while boys will continue to be boys, and that’s ok. But it’s 2013 and I was under the impression that we were trying to be on the same page here. In light of this, the sage advice offered up by The Telegraph seems a little sinister.

Now, go forth and enjoy your first weeks at university in exactly the manner you wish.

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