So all your hard work over the last two years has paid off, you’ve got into Uni and everyone’s delighted for you. But University can bring its own challenges and you might not be feeling as happy and confident as everyone expects. In fact chances are you might feel lonely, overhwhelmed by it all, and perhaps think you don’t fit in. These feelings are all natural when facing such a big change, so take care of yourself and take positive steps to make the whole thing a more enjoyable experience.
Unless you’ve chosen to stay at home and go to a local Uni, chances are you’ve moved away to another town, probably a city. Living somewhere unfamiliar can feel daunting, but the sooner you learn your way around and get to know where everything is, the sooner it will start to feel like home. Take time to familiarise yourself with your new surroundings, and find the peaceful areas of the city too, so you know you have somewhere quiet to escape to if you need some time to yourself.
Living with others
Most Uni students either live in halls or shared houses. This can be a difficult adjustment if you’ve been used to living at home, and a certain amount of compromise will no doubt be required. Be flexible, but also clear about your own needs. Wherever you’re living, ensure you have time and space to yourself each day, and if noise is a problem then invest in a pair of ear-plugs – it might sound silly but they really do help!
Making new friends might feel like the most difficult thing of all, but everyone’s in the same position as you, and it’s normal for most people to feel anxious at first. Nobody can tell you how to make friends, but taking part in activities arranged by your Uni and joining clubs and societies that interest you, will help you meet like-minded people. If you’re shy and find it difficult to talk, just make sure you smile. Other anxious people are more likely to radiate towards a person who’s smiling.
If you are confident and see someone looking scared and alone, go and chat to them.
Of course the main purpose of being at Uni is the work (yes, it really is!) Keep yourself organised so you know where you have to be each day and at what time. Set an alarm so you have time in the mornings and aren’t rushing about, and plan your study time so you can get your work in on time. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect – nobody is – as long as you’re doing your best then be happy and proud of everything you’re achieving.
Everyone knows a big part of Uni is socialising and it’s an important part of the whole experience, but only if that’s what you want. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into doing things you don’t want to do. You’re free from the restrictions of home life, so don’t allow yourself to be pressured by a whole new set of people instead!
If you want to party regularly, then be sensible about it. Budget your finances and your time so that you can really enjoy yourself without worrying about money and deadlines.
Take care of yourself at all times and avoid drugs and too much alcohol if they put you in a vulnerable position. Be careful and be safe.
There will always be plenty of people around to help if you’re struggling so be quick to ask for help when you need it. Don’t suffer in silence.
If you’re struggling emotionally, find out where your welfare office is and whether there are free counselling and other services available. Ensure you’re registered with a new GP, and make an appointment early on to discuss your needs.
If you’re struggling with your work then speak to your tutors. Your tutors are used to dealing with problems and can offer help such as extended deadlines, but they can only help if you talk to them.
If you’d like some additional, online support, then join our Message Board. Our Message Board is a friendly, safe place for you to talk about your problems and emotional difficulties without judgement.
Most of all, have fun! Do things you enjoy, make friends with good people and make the most of the opportunity you’ve been given.
Returning to Uni
Even if you’ve already done the whole fresher thing last year or the year before, returning to Uni after the summer can still be challenging. You might be living in different accommodation, the workload will have increased and you might not be feeling as good about things now the summer’s over. There’s bound to be a period of re-adjustment while you settle back in, so take care of yourself emotionally and physically, and ask for any additional help or support you feel you might need.
Can you add to this post?
If you’re returning to Uni this year and would like to share your experiences in order to help others who are facing Uni fo the first time, please leave a comment. We’re sure any advice would be much appreciated.