Jack Barton: Aber and the World

FRESHERS’ Week is upon us again, and we can approach it with all the forced excitement and poor decision making by which it is defined. The newest AU recruits will get a feel for the social life of our small town and, in a tradition honoured across the land, we’ll dance, wake up together, and drink; Lord, will we drink. The alleged purpose of all this bacchanalia is the forging of new friendships and the easing of the transition from the old life to the new, but I see flaws in this plan. First, the ‘friends’ you have in Freshers’ Week and the friends you have one year later are rarely
the same group of people. But that’s fine; after all, you have to hang around with someone. The second issue is that the transition made from being a university hopeful to being an undergraduate is bridged
by a week of inactivity punctuated by drinking. Now, I’m not necessarily opposed to the odd seven day binge, but I can’t help but think that, for many students, it sets
a precedent.

Consuming alcohol will be the primary occupation of the majority of people, freshers or otherwise, for this week. It’s understandable, and it’s probably the easiest way to generate some anecdotal material with the new housemates, but where does it leave you once the relative glamour of the first week is gone? It sets you up with a mental ‘How to Enjoy Uni’ guidebook that’s missing half the pages, because Freshers’ Week only tells you how to get drunk. Granted, alcohol and celebration are virtually synonymous in the British mind, but a quick Google search of what other universities have going on for this week puts us to shame. Other places have live music, themed events and even mini festivals – we get “welcome to the back of beyond, the pubs are down the hill.” I really don’t have anything against drinking – I’m actually writing this in a pub – but I don’t think drinking should be the objective of an evening. Of course people drink at the gigs, events and festivals listed above, but that’s because they’re actually out doing something. Whereas, many Aber fresher nights seem to prioritise drinking above all. Even Union events like Therapi are encouragements to drink excessively in a large hall while surrounded by people you cannot possibly talk to. You know what that makes it? A slightly matured school disco. But maybe this isn’t really a gripe against our Freshers’ Week – maybe this is a wider gripe with the student life of our town. Have you seen the statistics around student alcoholism in this place? If not, you should look them up; they suggest that when you graduate there is definitely a 1500% chance that you will be an alcoholic. (This in turn might explain why we’re the fifth most promiscuous university in the UK). We have one Arts Centre, and one cinema. Both of them have bars. If you want a bit more diversity you had better shell out to join one of the more active societies, because otherwise you might start to resent your decision to live in a town only slightly less remote than Atlantis. But don’t let me put a downer on this special week- if nothing else, you can look forward to a lot of parties, and sleeping with(on average) 8.26 people. Cheers.