Freshers' is always a nerve wrecking time for every student: now put being transgender on top of that.
I actually arrived in Sunderland by train, accompanied by one suitcase and a thirst for
starting my independent life.
I had some idea of what it was like, but the one photo on the website wasn’t exactly ‘insightful’. I got a room in a flat of six people, and to be fair to them, they were actually rather nice - but I wouldn’t describe them as my friends for life.
I really liked my room. It was loft-style which suited me, as it meant I was rather high (not in
the same way my flatmates were) and away from most the student shenanigans. It had the
largest windows of all the rooms, looking down at the student garden.
First day in Sunderland:
I finally arrived at my accommodation a couple of days into Freshers’ Week. You would
expect most people to already be there, but no, not in my flat. This left me a little confused,
anticipating when my other flatmates would join. I didn’t have any food or kitchen
equipment - so that day I had to make two trips to the shops just to get the absolute
The following days looked similar, just buying everything I needed, because let’s
face it - I couldn’t pack much in one suitcase. Then people finally started to arrive. It turned
out - all my flatmates were Greek. Don’t get me wrong, I love experiencing new cultures and
I was prepared to meet students from all around the globe - but living with five Greek
people was definitely an experience.
Obviously, it was Freshers' Week - so I was finally able to make some non-Greek friends,
which was harder than you’d imagine. We spent our nights at clubs, and I was out shopping
the next day - living the life, if you ask me.
I’m so grateful to have had two fellow cosmetic sciences students in the same
accommodation. They added me into the course group chat and let me know that we
actually had meetings to attend during Freshers' Week - oops!
I had not yet come out as transgender, but - yaknow, you could tell (yikes).
I will treasure this for the rest of my life:
One of my friends who was on my course pulled me to one side and with a heavy Slovak
accent asked me if I was transgender.
She was actually the first person I had come out to, and it just shows how much you change
When I confirmed that I was, her face lit up and gave me a huge hug.
“I love it. You know, because some trans look like man, but you look beautiful”
And, of course I had a slight conflict with that statement, but I wasn’t about to lecture her
about how every trans teen is valid regardless of how well they pass* - but in the moment I
just smiled and said thank you.
*passing: being perceived as your preferred gender.
That experience really meant a lot to me and empowered me to continue expressing myself.
I made some amazing friends during Fresher's Week, most of which I am still in contact with
My advice to anyone during Freshers' Week
Take it easy and have fun.
You will never get this time back, so make the most of it.
If you feel anxious about meeting new people and moving away from your hometown, just
know that everything will be okay. You are all in the same boat, and with thousands of
students attending the same university, your friends are out there anticipating to meet you.
I feel like university has well and truly changed my life; I don’t think I would have ever had
the confidence to be me in my small hometown. Starting university is an opportunity to
start afresh. People don’t know your past, so it’s your chance to reinvent yourself - within
certain limits, of course.
Stay true to yourself, and always remember your worth.