Settling in to University

Freshers week is over, the dust has settled, your course has started and it’s down to business, but do you find yourself feeling that it doesn’t seem all it was set up to be?
You are told that university will be the best time of your life. You will make lifelong friends and amazing experiences, so why doesn’t it feel like that?
Don’t worry. Although it might not seem like it from where you are sitting right now, you are not the only one feeling like that.

A big life change
Leaving home and going to university is a big life change. Even if you land in halls and make friends instantly, you will be in a minority if these people turn out to be your lifelong friends. The first few weeks at university, people are thrown together and tend to stick together, because nobody wants to experience Freshers on their own, so whilst it might seem that everyone has made friends immediately, for the vast majority, these will be friendships of convenience.

You have lived at home most or even all of your life to date and suddenly you find yourself living, quite often in a completely new part of the country, not knowing anybody or the town you are living in. You no longer have your parents or guardians to hand to do things for you or at least tell you what to do. This is a big life change, and even if you take it all in your stride, it will inevitably throw you off course emotionally at some point.

Just because you are feeling unsettled, it doesn’t necessarily mean University is not for you.

What is making you unhappy?
Try to work out what you are finding difficult
Is it the social life? – making friends takes time and making friends you really feel a connection with takes effort too. If you have connected with your flatmates, you’re the lucky one. If not, you need to seek out like minded people. Join societies or activities that you enjoy and you will find other people with similar interests. Just because you don’t drink or like to go out clubbing and it seems that everyone around you does, it doesn’t mean you won’t find others who doesn’t. Have the courage to be who you are, be true to yourself and you will find your comfort zone.

Are you feeling homesick? – try to chat with your parents and family regularly on Skype or Facetime, and share with them how you are feeling, but try and resist the urge to run home every weekend, at least initially. Going home at weekends can actually make you feel worse when you have to go back again, plus you will be missing out on opportunities to find and make new friends. Homesickness is normal, and even if people do no show it, you can be pretty sure that the majority of them are feeling it, but it will wear off as you start to build a life for yourself at university.

Don’t like the course? Maybe you are feeling that the course was a bad choice and you’re not enjoying it so far? This is something that you need to examine closely and discuss with your tutor. Is there maybe some slight module changes you could make or is it something major? You might need to consider changing courses, in which case you will need to explore the options that are open to you with your course tutor.

Still not convinced?
If you are still not sure university is right for you and it is making you unhappy, then do not feel you have stay. University is definitely not for everyone and dropping out does not make you a failure. It means you are strong and you know your own mind.
There is a lot of pressure put on students these days, with the loan you take to complete the course and get your degree, but there are also lots of other options open to you. University is not the only way to build a career and putting yourself through 3 years of unhappiness, just because you think it’s what is expected of you, can really take it’s toll on your mental health and self-confidence, so you must put your happiness first

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