I am probably considered an "oldie" at university now since I am now in 4th year. Most people who started university with me in the UK have all graduated now...most are working as well...and I'm still in school. I've been through 3 fresher weeks now - I think I can safely say that I'm fairly confident about what goes on in Freshers and what students are usually concerned about. Let's crack a few FAQs.
What is medical school going to be like?
Medical school is going to be challenging, physically and mentally tough, tiring, and most importantly - FUN. At the end of the day - we are medics. We work hard and party hard, BUT it is essential to maintain a good balance between the two. Don't want to work too hard to the point you burn out within first year, but at the same time not party so hard you end up flunking the year. In the first few weeks of school, it will mainly be a lot of introductory lectures. Unfortunately, your first few weeks will probably be a bit of a shock. First 2 weeks - you'll still be either hungover or on cloud 9 as you are still coming to terms that you are in medical school. Then week 3 comes around and so on...you're in lectures from 9am-5pm. You want to be seeing patients and learning clinical things, etc. Here's the truth - everyone has to take baby steps first so you'll probably spend quite a bit of time learning the basics. The science of medicine more than anything.
How do I make friends?
I cannot stress the importance of getting out there. Don't just stay in your accommodation. Go out and socialize! I do understand drinking/alcohol culture is not everyone's "cup of tea", but not all socials need to be at a pub/bar/club. In your first week (Freshers Week) there will be a lot of fairs. There will be a medical freshers fair, union freshers fair, sports fair, etc. Go to the fairs and join some societies! Remember all the freshers that attend these fairs will also be looking for friends. Thinking back, in the first few weeks of university was quite overwhelming. Every one seems a bit too friendly. You get so many numbers and emails from people you only say "Hi" to. Great place to start is at your first medical lecture. Go meet your classmates! You'll be stuck with them for the next 5-6ish years...so it's not a bad idea to start getting to know them. If you are a shy person, just think about it - everyone is looking to make friends. To be entirely honest - I used to be quite shy and the week before starting medical school - I was pretty nervous. I didn't know if I will be able to make friends. I'm not exactly the best person to initiate conversations. I can actually be quite quiet and can happily stand in the corner and watch the world pass by. Seeing how I'm in a new country, new school, etc - I knew I have to step out of my bubble and really try hard to make the first move and meet as many people as I can. Not sure what to say? Here's a start: "Hi! My name is _______. So where are you from? Liking *the university/city* so far? How are you finding it?"
Do I have to party every single day to make friends?
No. I did not go party every night. I think I went out twice (?) during Freshers week. BUT a great way to get to know your flatmates is probably to hang out with them, but know your limits. Sometimes you feel really pressured to go out, but if you aren't comfortable going out - then don't go! Just tell your friends you're going to take it easy for the night and need to finish unpacking. It isn't a crime to take it easy and most people should understand. However, I do HIGHLY recommend going to the Medic Freshers Party. I've been to the union party and the medics party 3 years in a row during Freshers week. The Medics' Party is a lot better. Plus it gives you another chance to meet more of your classmates and probably upper years such as people like me who don't want to give up on Fresher parties! I still fondly remember my first year medics freshers party. The people who I met at the party are still my great friends 3 years later. All I can say about these parties is just to enjoy yourself. Let loose. You're a fresher only once - just go for it! You're away from home. You're officially a medical student! I think these are good enough reasons to celebrate!
I got the welcome pack and everything seems really confusing and overwhelming! What to do?!
Just relax. I have always found the welcome packs overwhelming and exciting. Things start to feel real when you read through the welcome pack. I still remember reading mine and going: "wow...I am going to university. I'm going to be a medical student in a few days. There is a lot of stuff to know...crap." Essentially what schools tend to do is try to cram as much info in a welcome pack as they possibly can. It isn't a bad idea to give it a read before you start university, but you don't have to know everything in it. Introductory lectures/induction will probably cover most of it. How I've always seen things is to just "go with the flow". Just remember if you are feeling scared/nervous - there will probably be quite a lot of other people feeling the same thing. You're not the only one on the boat.
All in all - in a way Freshers week is overhyped. Keep your expectations low, and you won't be disappointed. How much you will enjoy Freshers Week is solely down to you. You control your life so you go out as much as you need to. But like I've said earlier: you're only a Fresher once so enjoy your time. Celebrate your week. You deserve it. You got into medical school - which was certainly not an easy task. Just think how far you have come to get here. It's also a fantastic time to get to know lots of people. Go join societies and get to know people from other courses. You are at university for 5-6 years so it is important to make the first good step. Relax and just go with the flow! Be excited. It will be a very fun 5+ years of university. It will go by quickly so enjoy it.
Good luck and enjoy your Freshers week. Also congratulations for getting into medical school.