‘Include your flatmates in traditions you did at home’: Students share tips on starting uni
From one collection of students to another
The start of university is perceived as an exciting new chapter, a chance to explore and develop your understanding of the world and where we fit in it. There are so many highs, it is easy to forget the lows exist. But they do, and more often than not they come when you least expect them. University can be the best years of your life, but that doesn’t mean students don’t get nervous or stressed – trust me, there is plenty of both of these.
As the new academic year begins, the Lincoln Tab spoke to students on how they have dealt with the impact of university life on them.
As students, we are told to expect it for a couple of days when we first arrive at university, and that it will go away soon enough. Which in most cases is true, but even so, it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.
One student said: “Try to include your new flatmates in traditions similar to things you used to do at home.” Breaking the ice with activities like movie nights or flat cooking will make you feel a little more grounded and add a routine to your new lifestyle. Another easy way to reduce these feelings is to decorate your room with comforts from home.
Whether this means a photo collage of every person you have ever spoken to in your hometown, or your favourite throw to put over your bed, making a space that feels safe to you is a good way of creating a home-from-home.
Making new friends
For some freshers, making new friends out of strangers might be something you haven’t had to do since you were much younger, and friendship was as easy as liking the same colour or kids TV show. Now you are older, it feels like you have to offer something to others to be of interest. It really is not that deep.
Friendships are built on shared memories and on understanding one another, and we are all deserving of it. Never feel bad if the people you are living with are not your friends for life. At uni, there are so many opportunities to meet a range of people, but the only way you can achieve this is by putting yourself out there.
Once you step outside of your comfort zone, even if this is just saying hi to the person you sit next to in a welcome week seminar, it becomes so much easier.
Freshers’ Week is synonymous with going hard on the nights out. This often leads to this really strange narrative of, “if you didn’t go out every night, you failed to be a Fresher”. This is not true at all.
A third year student said: “I have really bad reactions to alcohol, so [at the start of uni, when I felt the need to go out] I had to take a lot of time off in the first weeks of uni.” It is so important to know where your boundaries lie, and not allowing peer pressure or stigma to force you to go out when you don’t really want to.
She continued: “Do not feel under pressure to go out to ‘fit in’, you can also go out and not drink”. There are plenty of other ways to make friends and feel fulfilled at university, and surrounding yourself with people who get this (because I can guarantee you’re not the only one who feels this way) will make you forget all about this pressure.
When you begin your studies, the shift in quantity and quality of work is expected when you arrive at university. You are finally studying a topic that you are truly passionate about or one that will help you on the path to where you want to be. The amount of studying you do is bound to increase, so it is only natural that you could experience a bit of a wobble when it comes to keeping on top of things.
Don’t be so hard on yourself, talk about these insecurities with coursemates or flatmates, and you will soon realise that everyone is a little bit unsure as to how they got here. Also remember to give yourself credit when you accomplish things. You read that book in less than a week? Amazing! You attended that 8am class and gave insightful comments? You’re nailing this.
Don’t burn yourself out but remember that if you are giving it your all, it doesn’t matter how much or little that appears compared to everyone else. University is a unique experience for everyone, your academic record reflects you alone, so don’t stress yourself out thinking about what you have/have not done compared to your peers. You’ll find yourself catching up on content without even realising it, so long as you keep trying.
If you feel you are struggling at university, there are multiple services available to Lincoln students on campus to help deal with mental health.