University tips from a former anxious student

So you’ve packed your bags and travelled to a new city full of ambition and a promise of a better social life only to find that your flat mates are super religious and don’t like to party. Or maybe your course is duller than that A Level maths class you thought you were smart enough to understand.

By this point you’re probably panicking thinking that you can’t go home for fear of being seen as a failure, but staying might equal a lonely and miserable existence. Well, I’m here to help you with some tips I learnt from my four years of university.

first year freshers is always awkward.

Firstly, if you know whole-heartedly that you don’t like your course and you aren’t going to enjoy it, quit while you’re ahead. Transfer to a different course it could even be at the same university, you are not the first person to change you’re mind and you definitely won’t be the last. Stop beating yourself up, it just wasn’t right for you.

Now, I know the biggest worry people have about leaving home is making new friends and fitting in. This is arguably one of the hardest parts about university. You definitely don’t want to see your school friends on social media having a great time while you’re miserable.

So what do you do? I hear you ask. Well, for starters don’t compare yourself to your friend’s social media it is fake and they could be having a terrible time. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but first year freshers is always awkward. You are out with a bunch of strangers desperately trying to get to know each other. It’s forced and it’s fake because people are putting on personas to try and fit in.

An awkward freshers foam party

Building friendships takes time and you need to accept that it will be slightly awkward for awhile, but after a month or two these people will start to feel like family.

Another spoiler alert, you aren’t always going to get on with the people you live with. I didn’t and it was awful but I made the best of a terrible situation and made friends with my neighbours. They used to call me the stray cat because I’d spend more time in their flat than I did my own. This didn’t mean that I didn’t cry a lot and think about quitting, because I did, but I realised that I didn’t need those people to like me for me to be happy, they weren’t my kind of people and I clearly wasn’t theirs, and that was OK.

My friends in the flat near mine who took me in as the ‘stray cat’ celebrating Halloween

My top tips for making friends at university are:

  1. As easy and comforting as it might feel, DON’T lock yourself in your bedroom. Force yourself to make an effort.
  2. Say yes to every social activity even if you have to drag yourself there.
  3. Join sports or social groups, this is an easy way to make like-minded friends.
  4. Cook a meal for your flat or make cakes, food is the easiest ways to people’s hearts and lets be honest students are always starving.
  5. Remember you are all in the same boat, and no-one wants to be left out, try and include even the quieter people in your halls of residence.

I know this year must be even harder than ever to start university as we are in the midst of a global pandemic and all of the pubs and bars have to close at 10pm, but it’s all about making the best out of the cards you have been dealt.

Here are some tips I would recommend you trying:

  1. Don’t go home for at least 6 weeks, you need to give yourself time to settle in and not feel like you are running away.
  2. Try not to go home at weekends if your family live close. This might make you feel secluded because you’re missing out on vital social activities.
  3. Make your room at homely as possible. Put pictures on the walls and buy yourself a potted plant.
  4. Keep your space tidy so that you don’t feel chaotic and disorganised.
  5. Try and make friends with people on your course because you will find that you have a lot in common.
  6. Take full advantage of student discounts it amazing!
  7. Get to know the city you live in, go exploring and find good coffee shops to study in.
  8. Don’t get peer-pressured into doing something you don’t want to do, whether it be drugs or drinking, you don’t have to do those things to fit in.
  9. Give yourself a schedule. You often only go into university for a couple of hours, so map out time when you are going to chill out and when you are going to study. This will make your free time more enjoyable.

If you have any more tips about university that you think might help students, please share in the comments below.

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