Monday, 23 September 2013

A Guide to Cardiff Freshers - Part 1

Your first Freshers Week, generally speaking, is one of the more unusual periods of time in your life. The vast majority of students look upon it with misty eyed reverence, thanks to the endless drinking, partying and first conversations, many of the finer details blur into a continuous stream of high points and endless tipsy jokes. A jumble of drinking games, club nights, wanderings through Talybont,  the occasional confused taxi ride and the chance to meet many of your new friends for the next three years made this one of the best weeks of my life and a great introduction to life in Cardiff. About to return for my third and final freshers week, with a sense of nostalgia I thought I'd dispense some advice for those of you finding your feet in the crazy, beautiful world that is Cardiff.

1) Get A Freshers Wristband - While for many of you this is fairly self explanatory, for those who haven't taken the plunge yet, get one and get one soon! Coming with an array of discounts, this means you save on thecost of the initial band, as well as free accessto all sort of events, including the inaugural Freshers Ball and it's fantastic line up, this is a must buy item for anyone who's starting out at Cardiff. Easiest place to get one is from the Box Office in the Union, so make this a priority in between your first few beers of the day.

2) Discounts are your friend - During this time, people will shove endless discounts under your nose and although you'll end up with a bewildering array of fliers and booklets, it's worth taking most of them. A few  key ones to try and get are the Wetherspoons discount book, which lasts till November and comes with some ridiculous savings, along with opportunities for cheap flat meals out later on in the term when cooking becomes far too much effort! Visit the Lidl in Cathays for some of the cheapest alcohol in existence, cause while your head might not thank you the next morning, your wallet certainly will. Also, a Yellow Card, costing just £1 gets you loads of discounts at two of the best student pubs, The Woodville and Gassy Jacks! Last but not least, make sure you bring your student card on a night out, for while it occasionally gets you cheaper entry into some clubs, its the access to the free Cheeseburger or McFlurry at McDonalds (when you buy a meal) after your night out that makes it all so worth it!

3) Vist the Taf - The meeting point for many a social, starting point for many a LAsh and probably the cheapest student pub in the UK, the Taf combines a friendly atmosphere with pints that don't rise above £2, even for premium beers. It's also almost obligatory a drink  so popular that during my Freshers, Cardiff literally drank the whole country out of Zwack For that alone, it's worth visiting for at least a couple of tipples during the week.

4) Freshers Fairs - No matter how heavy the hangover, it's worth visiting the various fairs, to get a feel for the vast number of societies and sports on offer to you in Cardiff. My advice is to go through, put your name on the email lists of anything you find vaguely interesting and then in a clearer frame of mind, go through the list in detail a couple of days later. While sports are fairly explanatory and I reccomend joining at least one sports team for the epic socials that come attached to them, there are societies to suit almost everyone and if you can't find anything that caters to any of your interests, you can always start your own! Plus the fairs often come with enough freebottle openers  and pens to get you through the year!

5) The Endless New Faces - You'll spend your Freshers, not just getting to know the people in your new flat but meeting countless people who turn up for Pre-drinks, are in the same queue at the Taf or any of the clubs in town or who decide to talk to you in the middle of a crowded dance floor. My general advice, regardless of whether your a people person or not, is to at least have a quick chat with them, they probably don't bite and are in the same boat as you,  whilst trying to avoid the general formula of a discussion about A-Levels etc... You may lapse upon the last part of this, but it's worth attempting to strike up a subtle range of conversations.

6) Get Gig Tickets Early - The Student's Union offers a fantastic range of bands throughout the year, but tickets on some acts sell out very quickly. Although it initially feels like a big initial outlay, getting a few tickets for bands and singers you like early on is infinitely more rewarding than having to deal with ticket touts (a form of pest far worse than the seagulls that shred your binbags in Cathays) and ensures that you don't miss out on your favourites. If your into your dance music, keep an eye on the Bedlam events, which happen a few times a year, taking over the union and bringing in some hefty acts, (Netsky, Sub Focus, Knife Party, Nero, Friction, Delta Heavy, Feed Me & Ayah Marar have all featured in the past couple of years).

7) Enjoy Yourself - This probably goes without saying, but a Freshers at Cardiff is a truly brilliant experience and it's well worth indulging in everything on offer. What you do in your first couple of weeks will stick with you for the rest of your time there and hopefully leave you with a wealth of humorous, probably alcohol fuelled stories that will crack you up for years to come. The phrase 'down it fresher' will stick in your memory for long years to come!

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