September 27, 2012, by Malvika Johal

Wheelie Bins, Traffic Cones and Shopping Trolleys!


Melissa Wadams (Ancient History and Archaeology 2002) recalls her favourite memories of Freshers week 1999!

I’ve just returned to the University, to work, ten years after I graduated. Moving back here was very exciting; it felt like I was returning to University, the chance to re-live all those endless possibilities. I had to remind myself that this time, I was here for employment.

When I moved here three weeks ago, it was peace and quiet everywhere (aside from the dulcet tones of low flying aircraft over my flat in Sutton Bonington). But, over the past week, the atmosphere around the University Campuses has been heightening in anticipation of the storm that is, Fresher’s Week!  The excitement’s been everywhere; a new, enthusiastic cashier in Tesco, brought in to cope with the increased demand, asked my partner for ID (he’s 36 years old, admittedly young looking). This was on the same day he’d been “checked-out” at the Hopper bus stop. In Fresher’s week anything that moves is a potential conquest!

My first week in 1999 was not just starting at University, but also seeing the campus for the first time, so I had no idea where I was going, what I was doing etc. I remember arriving for the first time, and my Dad asking for a rough idea of where the Hall was. I had no idea – I’d selected Rutland as I heard it had a “lively” reputation, but I’d never even seen a picture.

Hall found, we clambered up several flights of stairs, and along corridors that already had various fresher’s mingling around. All doing their best to identify potential friends – and being absorbed doing this, they didn’t notice tutt-ing parents tripping over their limbs, laden with boxes.

Once settled in, there were so many choices in that first week, friends, course modules, clubs & societies, where to go out, what to wear etc. In months to come, we’d blame the Hall food for making us fat –completely ignoring the real cause, several nights out drinking a week.

In the first week, as no one has that much to do, everyone descended on the dining room at opening time en mass. Those long queues everywhere were great – more time to look everyone up and down, and more friend making opportunities!

Thanks to our Week One and Karnival reps, we went out every night – such a novelty! A mixture of trips into town, plus themed parties in various Halls. I remained sober enough to audition for the University Orchestra – although coming from the tropical smog lands of London,  the colder, damper weather of the “north” played havoc with my instrument. I swiftly learnt to store it in the warm/dry Music Department’s stores, which meant I could appease my parents’ constant paranoia that it would get stolen from my room. Rather silly paranoia, as only pointless things got drunkenly nicked and moved around…wheelie-bins, traffic cones, rides on the downs in abandoned shopping trolleys (in 1999, you didn’t need £1 for a trolley!).

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