Dear fresher me: our fashion journalism students’ emotional notes to self


Back in September 2017, a group of fresh-faced fashion journalism students joined Fashion North and started their three-year journey learning about catwalk reporting, trend forecasting, street style photography, social media and much, much more.

Today, they are reaching the end of their Fashion North newsdays in our University of Sunderland MediaHUB as they’ll now be concentrating on creating their own bespoke fashion magazines and websites as part of their degrees, as well as going on placements at places like Harpers Bazaar magazine.

Along the way, they’ve enjoyed styling challenges at John Lewis in Newcastle, visited an exhibition of Vivienne Westwood’s shoes at York Castle museum, helped produced a festive lookbook for The Bridges shopping centre in Sunderland, and heard from many industry experts as part of their dream to become fashion writers and stylists.




To reflect on their adventures here at Sunderland, our third year students have penned open letters to their 2017 selves as freshers.

And come back in July to see the obligatory Boomerang shots of them throwing their graduation caps in the air at the Stadium of Light!

If you want to be one of the new September 2020 freshers writing a letter like this in the winter of 2023, you can read all about our course here.



Dear my fresher self,

Get ready for the best and most exciting three years of your life so far. I know you’re hurting at the moment, and you’ve had a really tough time, but things are going to work out amazing for you.

I didn’t think we’d ever get over all the unexpected pain you’ve been feeling recently.  After the passing of our friend, a horrible breakup, and our haunting eating disorder, I’m here in my third year of university to tell you that you are strong enough to get through it all, as well as carry on with studies (and actually do rather well). It hasn’t completely gone away, but you learn to manage it all. You’re going to learn so much about yourself, grow as a person and gain so much confidence. You’ll be able to look back and think to yourself “look how far I’ve come”.

You’re going to meet the most amazing people; friends for life are coming your way, and you’ll make some of the most incredible memories with them. They’re the people that will get you through everything, and force you to get help when you need it the most. You are going to find them soon, and you will never want to let them go.

Don’t forget how much the people who were in your life before university love you. Your family love you, and they will do anything they can to help. Open up to them, and you won’t regret it. Your best friends in the Lake District still love you; life gets in the way, and you won’t see them much, but when you do see them it’ll be like not a day has gone by. Tell them you miss them and that you love them, so make sure you stay in touch.

Academically you will find things tough, but you’ll work through the struggles and thrive like you never expected to. You’re going to be able to give a massive middle finger to those who made you feel like you couldn’t even get into university, and those you made you think you should settle for something small. You are capable of big things, so don’t let anyone stand in your way.

Finally, give yourself a break. Yes, university is important, but remember to stay true to yourself and have fun. You deserve it! Be happy, be brave and continue being you.

Take it easy,

Third year Sam



Dear Fresher me,

First of all, I would like to tell you, you’re doing great. You are so brave to come here and adapt to a completely different culture. I am proud of you that you came here by yourself. That you didn’t worry about anything because you really wanted to study fashion journalism.

You don’t need to be worried to talk at all. Yes, you’re the only foreigner in your class, but don’t be afraid to say what you think. Yes, you might say some stupid things that won’t make any sense, yes, you may not say a sentence that is grammatically correct, but that’s absolutely fine.

Don’t be afraid of anything and just be yourself. Never try to change yourself and don’t worry if something is not going the way you planned. Uni will be fine, and you won’t believe how quickly the time will go. Don’t spend too much time thinking about things you are afraid of.

In the second year, you might not enjoy video journalism, but I promise you, in the third year, you will be grateful to have the ability to make and edit videos, create interactive content and interview people on camera. Newsrooms won’t be your friend either, but they will teach you more than you think. You’ll become more independent and confident in contacting sources and talking to the people over the phone.

During your studies, you might have some doubts about the course you study, but I promise you, you chose the right one. You’ll see it when every piece will click together in the third year and you’ll be beyond happy to realise you are studying something you enjoy and want to continue doing.

When you find some time, try to read more books and articles. Reading will help you improve your language barrier and will make a better journalist of you. Believe your future self.

Believe that everything is happening for a reason and that you are doing more than just fine. You’ll see that in your third year time will fly and you would wish to enjoy everything more.

Love, Barbora




Dear My Fresher self…

Believe me I know how you must be feeling right now. Thinking to yourself have you picked the right pathway, never mind the right course? However, the slight excitement of seeing fresh faces and the feeling of an adult that you have, knowing that this chapter of your life will be the most important before starting work.


The next three years will be hard but worth it, the skills you will learn are undeniably the best journalism skills which you can learn. Not only will you learn the ways in which journalist work but your confidence will grow incredibly.


You might be nervous and worried now but, believe me, you will make great friends and learn to be a real-life journalist, who will not be afraid to go out and interview people. You will learn the core skills and will be a pro at things you would never even imagine you would be able to do, such as working with camera equipment and doing podcasts.


It will be strenuous and hard, but what else is not if life? You need to work hard to get what you want, or where you want to be when you finally move on to the next chapter…

So stick with it and be positive – you’re doing great!

Lucy x



Dear fresher self,

The cliché phrase is true – “the next three years will fly by.”

You’ll make some amazing friends, be swamped by deadlines 70% of the time, and feel frown lines forming when a multitude of sources won’t reply to your emails.

You won’t suddenly transform into Elle Woods from the 2001 chick flick Legally Blonde. Media Law is HARD, and requires hours and hours of revision. When you’re drowning in a sea of mind maps, try not to panic about the numerous topics and dates you have to memorise – sacrificing days of socialising will all be worth it when you pass the exam.

Carole and all of your other lecturers are right. Being organised is imperative to succeeding in this degree. Don’t just rely on one source and have plan a, b, c, d – — (you get it) set in place.

It’s okay to reach out for help when the unthinkable happens.

Take full advantage of Fashion North and the accessible equipment available to develop your journalistic skills.

The most important thing to remember is that university won’t last forever, and when things seem almost impossible it’ll be the good memories that you take away from this experience.




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