Freshers Blog

Dear Fresher - Luke Sandys-Renton

Dear Fresher,

When I chose the University of Brighton, I didn’t know anyone and everything seemed pretty daunting, after all I was just a small fish in a big scary new university pond. In the run up to starting University my nerves and anxieties were swimming around my head with anything from: what if I get lost, what if don’t make friends or I miss home too much, being amongst my biggest worries. I also didn’t get into halls the first time round and so the worry of where I was going to live was pretty stressful!

Luckily as things got closer to the start of University, I looked into what else there was to do in Brighton, I checked out the incredible list of societies and sports teams on the SU website and also managed to get myself onto the waiting list for halls and luckily secured a place in Varley Park. The more I found out, the more initial worries floated away; I got chatting to the people on my course and the other people moving into my halls on Facebook and it made me feel a lot better that I wasn’t alone.

When I was moving into my halls, it was a bit of a blur and there was a lot going on and it was tough to say goodbye to my family and be left in a new unfamiliar place. After a few hours it felt a lot less daunting as I had met all of my flatmates and we were all getting to know each other. Everyone wanted to dive straight in and get to know you so it was a great chance to break the ice and fish out new friends.

The next hurdle was heading to University to get enrolled and head to my first lecture, I knew where the Moulsecoomb campus was but it was more nerve-wracking heading there alone, it felt like your first day at school again! When I got to campus I managed to get lost of course, after all the Cockcroft building looks like a bit of a big unfriendly giant initially, not to mention that the Mezzanine level is pretty confusing! Luckily I was rescued by a friendly student who spotted me and clearly could tell I was new, so navigated me to the right place just in time!

Luke at the Eastbourne Freshers' Fair with friends on the Polo team. 

After getting through the first lecture and meeting my coursemates in person, I was feeling much better and my worries had mostly gone (other than about getting lost again!) but I soon realised that if in doubt, it was easiest to go with the flow and follow my coursemates! After a few days, everything seemed to click into place, I was enjoying my first introductory lectures, getting to know lots of people and have a lot of fun with the Freshtival line up, I was also pretty excited for the Freshers’ Fair, after all up who doesn’t like getting some free pizza… oh and finding out about new activities to get hooked on in your free time too!

When you’re queued up at the Amex stadium, it is the calm before the storm, I’ll admit that the Freshers’ Fair is quite full on as once you’re inside there is a lot to see and many stalls with people eager to reel you in and talk to you about their society or sports teams. Importantly I would say, take your time and go round at your own pace but also think about casting your net out wide and try something different too, I found it helpful to have trawled through the SU website beforehand, so I knew what to look out for.  After ducking out of the way of the flying rugby balls and dodging some of the beefy rugby guys practising their throws down the walkway, I got chatting to a lot of the societies and sports teams and put my name down to join a few that sounded like good fun. The nicest thing about it all was that people were passionate, happy to answer all of my questions and wanted me to feel at ease which instantly took the edge off what can be quite an intimidating experience especially if you’re nervous like I was.

Luke running in the Students' Union Elections 

Knowing that I could build a life around my existing interests, explore new ones and meet likeminded people along the way, the invaluable support from the SU and Sport Brighton gave me the push to set up the new Polo team (horse hockey basically!) and even to run in the Students’ Union Elections, which all gave me another platform to really enjoy my time at University.

Luke receiving the Latrivia Grant award at our annual Union Awards

Ultimately some of my biggest achievements have been in the extra-curricular activities I have pursued beside my studies, creating memories with the lifelong friends I’ve made along the way. It turns out that the big scary pond has actually been full of fantastic opportunities and I wasn’t the small little fish I first thought, and it all just goes to show that no matter how shy or nervous you start out, you will find your place at Brighton!

My biggest bits of advice for

  1. Smile and say hello - sometimes the hardest thing to do when you’re shy or nervous is to talk to someone, giving them that opening with a little hello and a smile sets you up to bridge that gap, they might be just as nervous as you! You also don’t have to like everyone but the more people you meet, the better!
  2. Ask questions – if you don’t know something, don’t worry there is always someone to help who might, whether it is a friend, a lecturer or someone from the Students’ Union, everyone is wanting to help you get settled!
  3. Don’t worry - Everyone is in the same boat, whatever you are worried about, I can guarantee that there will be another hundred others who are also worrying about it! The SU also has great resources to help you if you need extra advice or support.
  4. Get involved – you are only at University once and so it is the best time to get involved in a lot of very inclusive and accessible opportunities, so whether it’s a new society or sports team, give something new ago as it’s a great way to meet people and the worst thing that can happen is you decide it’s not for you!
  5. Enjoy it – although your university course may be tough at time, make sure you give yourself some time off studying. There are amazing things to do in Brighton from live music, galleries or restaurants, cycling along the seafront or going for walk in the beautiful South Downs or even just getting fish and chips on the beach (beware of seagulls!), so get out, see and enjoy some of the things that make Brighton an awesome city to live and study in!


I wish you an incredible time at the University of Brighton,

Peace and love,




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