Freshers: keep calm!

Matthew Reeves has some wise words for first years

Battle stations! It's freshers' week again, the time of easing into lectures, team tryouts, comparing timetables, laughing at awful summer jobs and comparing tales of Thailand. It's a time for coming back to reality, for independence, for learning, growing, becoming more rounded, and more employable. First things first, let's decorate your new bedroom.

You can tell a lot about a person by their choice of wall coverings. There's the kind of person who thinks they'll pop some art on the wall and POW! there you have it, the new branch of the Tate in room 146. The worst ones are those who think that if it's in black and white, it looks like they're probably best buddies with the Rat Pack, not realising that the Rat Pack didn't have posters of the Rat Pack on their walls. They'll buy a bottle of Jack Daniels, which will still be unfinished in their fourth year, and still won't taste any less like an accident in a vinegar factory, though, on the plus side, it fits the colour scheme. But whatever happens, never be the one who has the "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster.

Don't buy it. If you have, take it down and shred it. Even if it was a gift or a notepad, or a humorous little parody of the original. Get rid of it. Wrap it in carpet and ditch it in a canal. (Especially if it's a mouse mat. Nobody needs a mousemat. It's not 1970 any more.) It's bizarre that so many people swap perfectly good little round metallic portraits of the Queen to own a copyright-free image that was conceived during the war to stop the working classes from asking any questions. This isn't a war. This isn't even close to a war. This isn't even one of those made-up wars they have on Sky News, like "The War to Put Chips Back into Primary Schools: Mums Protest at the Gates."

Don't represent yourself as the kind of person whose personal mantra is based on the notion that when everything is going wrong around them, the best thing to do is to sit around and do nothing - it's embarrassing. Get any other poster. Get one of someone doing something, a fish riding a bike, or whatever. You're at university for goodness sake! You can join a club on calligraphy, or do anything else you like, and it'll cost less than a Starbucks! (The second you leave, by the way, you'll have to take out a bank loan to even look through the windows of a gym.)

The truth is that you can forget your A-Levels, your university's rank in the league tables, your degree, or your gap year. You're bigger than that. When university is all said and done, it's about donning the funky hat, and taking some snaps. Yes, whether it's on Facebook, or your student flat, you're going to be judged by what you put on your walls. And they certainly shouldn't have a certain poster on them.

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