My Freshers Week 2016

Published on behalf of Laura Burden.


So here we go! Last week I started classes for my final year doing my undergraduate degree in Media Studies here at Sheffield Hallam University! It’s bittersweet really because as much as I’m excited to get stuck into this year, do my dissertation project and head on out into the big blue yonder, it’ll also mean leaving Sheffield and the University that I love so much. But first, I need to battle my way through the deadlines, breakdowns, early mornings and late finishes of third year!

Anyway, even though classes started last week, the week before was dedicated to Welcome Week! Welcome Week is basically a week of fairs and freshers’ parties, club nights and introductory meetings. There are lots of freebies up for grabs, opportunities for new and returning students to get involved in societies, clubs, sports team, voluntary work and more. For first years especially, it’s a chance to settle into accommodation, meet new people, attend enrolment and course induction sessions, enjoy the nightlife and explore their surroundings. If you’ve progressed past first year, there’s a little bit less going on, since you’re already settled in and (hopefully) know what you’re doing and where you’re going. You do however, have more chance to actually sign up for a new society, join a sports team or enhance your CV with some volunteering without getting too flustered with everything that’s going on.

Rather than doing the student thing for Welcome Week 2016, I worked at several of the events with the marketing and PR teams – helping to set-up and then run the stalls during the day. So, here’s a timeline of what I got up to during each day of Welcome Week this year!

Monday – Freebies Fair @ Students Union
Kicking things off for Welcome Week there’s the Freebies Fair. It’s basically an opportunity for local and national businesses to give students free food, merchandise, information and leaflets. This means they get to engage with their target demographics and we students are thrilled to be receiving free things and have a day basically exploring the Students’ Union, interacting with university staff, union staff, other students and generally being surrounded by chaos.

So for the Freebies Fair I worked as part of the #hallaminsiders team. This was my first event as part of the team and it turned out to be terrific fun! I arrived a couple of hours before the fair opened ready to get everything set up, since I was working with the marketing team I helped to set-up the Team Hallam stall.

On our stall students could play a game of plinko and win a Team Hallam prize – a branded water bottle, baseball cap, t-shirt, canvas bag, pin badge or key ring. The stall also enabled students to tweet using a specific hashtag in order to win goodie bags! Just before the doors opened we managed to get everything set up.

My next task was to distribute Team Hallam lanyards amongst the students waiting to access the fair, which gave me the opportunity to mingle and chat! There were freshers as well as familiar faces and returning students and with everybody excited for the event and lots of other people handing out freebies to the people waiting, the hustle and bustle never stopped.

After a couple of hours handing out landyards to the students outside and in, I headed back upstairs to help out on the Team Hallam stall again. Even though it was around 4pm by then, students were piled into the HUBS building, still queueing outside and the fair was due to be finishing at 5pm! Although this meant everybody working flat out and people packed into the building like sardines, it was a fun-filled day for all involved – making it all worth-while.

Tuesday – Societies Fair @ Students Union
Next, it was time for the Societies Fair and since I wasn’t working at the event, I was able to go ahead and take a look around as a student. Since there are new societies being created all the time, it’s a good idea to go to this particular fair every year and see if something takes your fancy. You might sign up and never go, or sign up and go to the first meeting and find that it’s not for you or you might go along to the first meeting, meet interesting people, explore a hobby or passion, discover something new and join the society!

Most societies will set-up a specific stall with some of their members or committee and use marketing techniques to lure people in – there’s games, toys, treats, displays, demonstrations etc. so it’s definitely an entertaining event with lots to look at and do. There’s a huge range of societies available which means there’s something for almost everyone, as it’s a fun event to go to and have a browse, I’ve gone every year whilst I’ve been here at Hallam just to have a peek at what’s on offer.

In my first year I signed up for quite a few societies and attended several first social events/meetings within them however, nothing particularly grabbed my attention for very long. Last year I was drawn to one society in particular and that was the Tea Drinking Society. It was a reasonably new society as it hadn’t been around during my first year and as they were chatting to people and giving out tea and biscuits at the Societies Fair that year when I went along, I knew it would be right up my street! So last year I regularly attended the Tea Drinking Society meetings which was a relaxing interlude during my busy schedule and a chance to have a natter with some new people and drink copious amounts of various teas.

This year I’ll remain a member of the Tea Drinking Society for sure but I wanted to head along to the Societies Fair once again just to take a nosy at what new societies had appeared and whether any other societies took my fancy this time around. I did sign up for several of them in order to keep an eye on their social events and what they get up to but, nothing particularly jumped out at me.

Wednesday – Sports Fair @ Students Union and The Line Up
Although I’m not a particularly sporty person, I am of course aware that there’s a great range of sports available for students of all genders, ability and circumstance – from women’s football to wheelchair basketball. For many, sports form an important part of life at Hallam, enabling them to socialise, keep active, have fun and enjoy a passion.

As with every other year I’ve been at Hallam I decided to go and have a lot around the Sports Fair, in case something took my fancy and just to see what’s on offer for my fellow students. Although I didn’t sign up to anything, I had fun taking a look around, engaging with the students and taking part in some of the activities.

My other plan for the day was to spend some time working for #hallaminsiders by distributing copies of The Line Up. This is a type of calendar that’s displayed and available across the two campuses at Hallam for students, staff and visitors. I spent some time handing out copies of this document outside the main building of the City Campus to passers-by, some students, some staff and some curious residents of Sheffield. The Line Up for October details a number of interesting events, including the Herd of Sheffield, which has just concluded and the elephants are being auctioned off. I enjoyed a few hours interacting with the public, helping people when necessary and giving out this fantastic piece of information to those who need it.

Thursday – Volunteering Fair @ Students Union and The Line Up
On Thursday it was time for the Volunteering Fair, which gives students a chance to see what volunteering opportunities are available via the Students’ Union. Volunteering through Hallam is done in a completely flexible way, students can choose something they feel passionate about or interested in, they can choose how much time they put into the position and when to start and finish it (of course this does depend slightly on the business or organization they’re volunteering with).

Over the summer I thought about volunteering as a way to increase my knowledge and practice and improve my skills, as well as helping local charities and causes. I began an application but couldn’t see it through at the time due to other commitments however, after a look around the Volunteering Fair I decided to complete my application and have a chat with somebody within the Volunteering department at the Students Union to begin finding something suitable for me. I’m now in the process of deciding what positions to apply for!

After the Volunteering Fair I had chance to spend a few more hours distributing copies of The Line Up outside the University. Again I found it thrilling to chat to people, engage with students, have a laugh with some of them and provide them with, what I see, as valuable information that will help them settle into and/or enjoy life in Sheffield as much as possible.

Friday – Welcome Fair @ Collegiate Campus and Level 6 Induction
What a week! On Friday a little of each fair moved over to Collegiate Campus for the day – this is another campus a little way away from the main City Campus. Parts of the Freebie Fair, Sports Fair, Volunteering Fair and Societies Fair went over to the other campus for the day in order to let students based at that campus enjoy all the fairs – whether they had the chance to attend or not. Since I wasn’t working at the Collegiate event and didn’t feel any particular urge to head on over there I left them to it and made sure to promote the event through my social media instead as part of #hallaminsiders.

My main event for the day was to attend the Level 6 Media induction class. Every year each level of each course has an induction class in order to catch up on any changes and updates and receive any major news for the coming year – trips, new staff etc. This year we have had quite a few staff changes within the faculty – in particular we have a new course leader as the previous course leader has moved to another University. Our new course leader came to Hallam last year as a lecturer and this year took over as the course leader – he certainly has some big plans for us! The department is currently in the process of creating a fantastic ‘media hub’ for us media students of all levels to relax and work, meet each other and those from other courses. This space will always be available to us and allows us an area to work either together or individually – which will be particularly useful when it comes near to deadlines as the library is always heaving!

As well changes in staff, our tutors wanted to tell us all about an upcoming trip to Berlin for the Berlinale – a large film annual film festival that happens in the city. Level 5 and 6 media students have the opportunity to attend the event for around 5 days with the tutors etc. All in all, it looks like a very interesting trip and a chance to see a new City however, money can be tight and as I have a number of other commitments in terms of time and money, I decided I didn’t want to go on the trip this year. I guess there’s plenty of time for me to head to Berlin in the future!

So there you go! This post is exponentially longer than I had intended but, I did say it was a busy week and now you know everything that goes on during Welcome Week here at Sheffield Hallam University!

By Laura Burden