‘I’M HEADING up extra early – it being the start of the year and all” explains an old school acquaintance as I make my way to the bar. Summer is drawing to a close, and Alan (not his real name) is excitedly describing the week of partying, initiations and intoxication that lies ahead. Seemingly dissatisfied with one university year beginning with financial ruin and a perpetual hangover, he is going for the Freshers’ Week hat-trick, and he is by no means alone in doing so.

Freshers’ Week, it seems, has become something of an institution. Up and down the country, students will spend ridiculous sums on tickets for club nights, gigs, costumes and booze for pre-drinking.

It is the biggest event of the social calendar, the place to make friends, find partners, and pursue reinvention. It is taken so seriously that universities are sometimes ranked by the quality of the experience on offer; and even at Oxford, college JCRs allocate significant resources to ensure maximum entertainment. That being said, I am not really sure why.

I also don’t understand why locals or people who aren’t in first year choose to get involved. Freshers’ Week, insofar that I have observed it, is tremendously overrated; and while it is a distinct possibility that my lack of coolness blinds my judgment on the matter, I suspect that deep down even its most ardent champions agree.

At Oxford, ‘Freshers’ Week’ is undoubtedly a grandiose term for three days of welcome lectures, library tours, and vomiting at regular intervals.

It begins with a hectic day of moving in, awkward conversation, and debilitating self-consciousness; ending with hangovers, feelings of regret, and a nice (albeit pointless) ceremony called ‘Matriculation’.

The time in between is occupied largely with forgetting people’s names and drinking.

That being said, not everyone has the same experience. I for one had a tame few days, getting to know the people around me, building a routine, and enjoying the company of some new friends over games of pool and a few drinks of an evening.

I was lucky to feel no more uncomfortable in my skin than usual, and as a result hated the experience far less than I thought I would.

Conducting myself in this manner at any other university (especially at Leeds or Sheffield – seemingly everybody from my school on the Wirral went to Leeds or Sheffield), I am told, would have been tantamount to social suicide, so I am probably lucky not to have ended up elsewhere.

I think it was Alan’s unwavering belief in the greatness of Freshers’ Week that stumped me the most, especially since he has done it twice before.

We all secretly know that it is overrated, and while the enthusiasm of someone new to the world of university is understandable, the desire to relive the false personalities, the peer pressure, and the cringeworthy club night themes is beyond me.