10 Things I Wish I’d Known as a Fresher

University of Brighton alumni Charlotte King shares some wisdom on being a fresher in Brighton…

The two magical words that give all students the feeling of having a Mary Poppins-size wallet, loan day may make you feel like you have a million pounds to spend on every whim and fancy, but you really, really don’t. By Halloween, most students will have spent at least half their loans for the term, that feeling of invincibility quickly dwindling as they survive silently on 10p noodles and minesweeping at pubs. Don’t let this happen to you – get savvy with what Brighton has to offer, look up student deals, and budget. You’ll thank me later.

If you hail from anywhere north of the Watford Gap, beware – in Brighton, this will probably dub you the official title of ‘Northerner’ (expect a lot of Jon Snow references). To add insult to injury, while you may be used to a cheeky Fosters or Heineken for just a few bob, you’re not likely to get much change from a fiver at your local in Brighton. There are a few ways to get around this though: take advantage of £2 night in The King and Queen on Thursdays, bring a lemon to Hobgoblin’s Lemon Parties on a Wednesday for a free Corona, and check out The Gladstone’s daily student board.

Unlike any other city, you can find the best vegan and steak meals on the same street – and it doesn’t have to cost a bomb. Try Iydea in the North Laine for a truly fresh, free-range, environmentally friendly meal that tastes better than you’d bargain for, or right opposite in The White Rabbit where you can feast your eyes (and belly) on beef burgers that could feed the five thousand.

You wouldn’t believe how many friendships are nearly ended over toilet paper – it will never be such a precious commodity in your life! Ensure you have a system in place so all bodies are aware about what the loo situation is and nobody’s caught short, and if in doubt, always have an emergency stack to avoid those all-awkward house meetings (the library is always a good place to pinch some).

Prepare your eyes during exam season for the Naked Bike Ride, which takes place in June each year. The aptly named event sees hundreds of cyclists of all ages, proportions and nationalities ride a route through the city completely nude (albeit with body paint sometimes) in the name of liberating the human body and celebrating the world of cycling. Whether you decide to take part or just observe a snippet, make sure you’re involved somehow as nothing will prepare you for this taste of freedom. If you’re still not convinced it’s your thing, well, at least you’ve now been warned.

Students often go homeward-bound over the summer, but they end up missing out on some of Brighton’s best months. I’m not suggesting to abandon all family, but do try to stay for the main events. Brighton Fringe and Festival throughout May, Brighton’s Big Screen in July and Pride in August (arguably the best in the country) all see the city transformed into a buzzing metropolis full of beer gardens and generally good vibes. If you absolutely must leave, at least catch the buskers and street performers year round (particularly around the Royal Pavilion and the seafront) – Brighton is one of the only cities in England that actually has talented ones!

You will inevitably have the experience of slogging up one of Brighton’s many hills after a regrettable hefty shop at the local supermarket (probably Sainsbury’s or Lidl). You’ll probably sweat, you’ll definitely swear. But there is a silver lining: the view from the top. Walk up Southover Street to the Racecourse to get a stunning panorama of the city, or walk all the way to the top of Wild Park where you can sit by a lake and watch over the hustle and bustle in complete silence. Trust me, it’s worth it.

With Freshers life tending to orientate around whose house the next party is at, or what club to go to when, it can get a bit overwhelming as you get ready for your 12th night out in two weeks. Rest assured, you don’t have to go far to get away from it all for a bit. Whether your outdoorsy or not, take an open-top bus ride up to Devil’s Dyke National Park where you can walk, cycle or have a nap (you’re a student now, it’s expected), and see the whole of Brighton as if in the palm of your hands.

Houses in Brighton may have a nasty tendency of being over-priced and under-maintained, but not getting your deposit back or having undealt with issues throughout the year really can throw a spanner in the works. Don’t think that you are alone! Check out the Citizen’s Advice Bureau to get ‘in the know’ about your rights as tenants, and how to phrase fighting for your deposit when the time comes.

Your years here will go by all too quickly, a point that I feel is redundant as almost every Sam, Dick and Harry will have told you the same thing, but as an ex-student, I feel almost obliged to also say it. You won’t love every single day, but love at least some moments within every day, because it truly can offer you some of the best experiences of your life.

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