So you’ve just got a place at university, well done! Everyone you know is telling you that you are about to start ‘the best time of your life’, but all you feel is fear and apprehension, the change is all a bit too much. You feel you should be excited, you feel you should be acting a certain way, is this normal? Yes of course your bound to be nervous, going to university is exciting but it is something new which I understand can be pretty overwhelming. So in short terms, the answer is there is no set way or “normal” way to feel…
I remember how I felt going to university all too well, at first I was extremely excited, buying everything I possibly could; things for my kitchen, decoration for my bedroom, photos to make me feel at home, essentially everything but the kitchen sink! However, once all this was sorted and the initial crazy period of getting everything prepared was over, I was like WAIT, I am actually leaving and going to an unknown town, where I wont know anyone. This excitement then led to fear, I wouldn’t be surrounded by my family and friends, I would have a new home, with new people, whom I didn’t even know yet.
For me personally the hardest thing transiting to university was the fear of the people I would leave behind and the thought of having to make new friends (would they like me? would they think I was weird? would we have things in common?!). I knew my family would always be there but the people I had been to school with for the past 7 years, the people I saw every single day at school, wouldn’t be in my life regularly any more. This scared me, I felt that they would forget about me and our friendships would be over, I didn’t want to change and I didn’t want them to change. However, after an evening at our local, including lots of tears, reminiscing and dancing, it was time to say goodbye, as each person was dropped of in the taxi hugs were given, fears exchanged. It was a beautiful night which made me feel like I was ready, not only was I scared, they were also scared, I was not alone in this transition and it was something that we all had to get used to.
The next day I started on my journey to Plymouth, university here I come! Being crammed in the car, with barely enough space left for me to sit and a nervous mum and dad the journey began. Arriving into Plymouth I was greeted by a nice student who directed me to my halls, showed me the ropes and then left. After climbing the many stairs, 100s of times to move my stuff in, why did I think I needed so much stuff?! It was time to say goodbye, waving my mum and dad off, the door shut, WOW this was it I was on my own and I needed to go and socialise and try and meet people. With all my nerves I actually threw myself into this, talking to everyone, putting on a brave face. Seeing one of my flat mates crying once her family left made me realise that she is in exactly the same position and no one should be embarrassed to be upset about saying goodbye to their loved ones, this is normal, EVERYONE IS IN THE SAME BOAT. Holding up a bottle of vodka (oops!) and a box of chocolates and telling her that everything was going to be ok was the start of our friendship.
As someone who enjoys going out, I through myself into this, maybe a bit too much and I would advise being careful in freshers week because it is only too easy to burn yourself out, please make sure you eat properly, are careful with your drinking intake and please try and get enough sleep. An unhealthy diet and sleep deprivation is enough to make anyone crazy and emotional, that on top of mental health difficulties can lead to a very hard time. So please be aware of when things are too much, its ok to say to your flat mates that you want to slow down, yes go out and have fun but maybe organise a film night or how about a night chilling and drinking copius amounts of tea (my favourite kind of night!). You’ll be surprised to find out that they too quite fancy a night in and are very happy with this idea.
If you don’t drink or going out isn’t your scene then this is ok, do not be scared about going into freshers week and thinking you will be the only one, because you wont. There will be many other people in the same situation, trust me. You don’t need to go out to meet people, you will meet people who you are sharing your accommodation with, and go out and explore the city your university is in, the university will put on loads of events during the day to meet new people. Also, don’t forget to join sports and societies because it gives you a chance to meet like minded people. Even if you haven’t tried a certain thing before, why not join, you may be surprised how much you enjoy it.
Therefore, university does seem scary and it is a big change but think about all the thousands of students who are moving to university this year, all feeling the same as you, all scared about meeting people and leaving people behind. After a few weeks of being at university the apprehension will die down you will meet some amazing people, yes you will not get on with everyone and everything isn’t rosy and great, but I’ve met some of best people I know and I don’t know what I would do without them, this fair outweighs the people that I do not get on with. As I have said before everyone is in the same boat at university and you will all support each other through the ups and downs of your degree. Even though I am going into my fourth year, I still make friends all the time, the process of university is amazing, everyone is so friendly and you will meet people from all waves of life, which I have really enjoyed.
Also, I am still in touch with my friends from home, yes we have changed, but I would like to think that we have all changed for the better and are developing into the adults we are about to become. I could not be prouder of all of their achievements and even though sometimes it feels like we are growing apart, this is also bringing us together. As one of my friends sent to my home group chat yesterday – “shout out to my low maintenance friends, the ones you don’t talk to for months, because you are both living your lives, but when you meet up, there’s nothing but love”, this is so true and no one will be able to take away the friendship you have had and despite the time and distance apart, they will still always be there.
As a student myself, you really are about to start ‘the best time of your life’, I would do anything to redo my first year and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. But no matter how amazing it is, I am not going to lie you will have difficult times, everything wont always be fun, but that’s part of life. The good times you are about to have will far outweigh the difficult times. I wish you luck in the beginning of a very fun journey!!