Freshers isn’t always as good as it’s made out to be and here’s why

Remember, it’s COMPLETELY NORMAL to feel lonely or isolated at uni

Freshers week. The best week of your life – the breath of fresh air that will release you from mundane reality of living at home. Right? But what if, amongst all of the hype and excitement of the first week at university, something slips through the cracks – the realisation perhaps, that this isn’t actually all it’s cracked up to be?

All across the UK, first year students will be flooding the university towns from north to south, east to west, prepared to engage in 7 full days of binge drinking and socialising within their social bubbles. What the brightly coloured pamphlets, the snapchat stories and the veteran students fail to mention is that fresher’s is far from perfect. In fact, there are many difficult emotions and experiences fresher’s may face. And here are a few of them:

The cycle of loneliness

I want McDonald’s now (Image via Crisis).

We all love a night out – getting plastered with a group of adolescent 20 year olds in a club sounds like heaven on earth. But what happens in the other 20+ hours of the day?

The time between pre drinks and the hangover lie ins are often, more than not, pretty lonely. During my freshers, I often stared at my newly decorated walls for hours, wondering if I had made the right decision and worrying that, perhaps, I had made the biggest, most expensive mistake of my life.

My room in first year.

While the rest of my house mates were fast asleep, their dreams mercifully uninterrupted by the crushing fear of isolation or sadness – or else smashing out the gym or seminar prep (yes, some people actually did that), I would be left to spiral down the rabbit hole of anxiety and depression, despairing over my seemingly irrational feelings.

Now I realise, this is normal. It’s extremely common for freshers to feel isolated and alone during not only this first week, but perhaps the whole of their first year. So, remember, if you are going through something similar, you are not alone. Thousands of freshers experience these feelings of fear and sadness and, despite rising exposure to mental health awareness, I’ve found this aspect isn’t spoken about enough.

Not getting on with your flatmates

We can’t all be BFFs.

Another thing that was nicely glossed over was the fact that you might not actually get on with people in your halls. People are all different. We all study different courses, come from different places and like and dislike different things – and we’ve all been hurled into one small flat and expected to become the best of friends.

Despite what people say, no one is expecting you to make friendship bracelets with people just because you live with them. There are plenty of other chances to make those lifelong friendships forged at university, and if you don’t make best friends with the person you share a wall with, contrary to what everybody under the sun seems to preach, this is fine!

You will never get on with everybody you meet in life, especially if you’ve been forced into an overhyped house share. These things take time to get to grips with, and if the tenant opposite you seems to get on each and every nerve, nobody will blame you for keeping to yourself – just remember to be polite to those you live with.

We’re all only human, and you never know what is going on behind those closed fire doors – kindness doesn’t cost a thing, so make sure your generous with it, even if you do want to scream at them for not emptying the bin.

Anxiety and the change of being away from home

Old Market Square & the Rock City sign.

You have to remember; big changes are always accompanied by big emotions. You’ve just upped and moved your entire life from one end of the country to another, scrapped the comfort of your own bed and perhaps a century long friendship group – so you might go into fight or flight mode.

Feelings of anxiety and depression are more than common among students, particularly freshers, who have been lulled into a false concept of university equalling unprecedented happiness and excitement. The friendships will take time to form (your not going to become best friends with people over night) and the new routine of living by yourself, despite being physically surrounded by people, will take time to get used to.

Don’t expect, or put pressure on yourself, to have it all together within the first 7 days of your arrival!

My move-in day to uni, excited for what was to come.

Reflecting back on my own time as a first year, all in all, yeah, it was pretty sick. I made some great friends and experienced some great nights out, and the freedom of being away from home was unparalleled. But what accompanied this new-found lifestyle was also a torrent of sadness, anxiety and even loneliness. Something I found I was not prepared for whatsoever.

Coronavirus has made things even more difficult for those who are freshly arriving to university in the coming weeks. Now, more so than ever, feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness are fraught amongst the younger population.

Siblings, friends, social media and all other forms of uni propaganda often fail to mention that freshers week is not all sunshine and rainbows. It’s completely normal to have feelings of anxiety, loneliness and other emotions during this time.

If you’re experiencing a hard time now in freshers week, or at any other time in your uni career, and want to talk you can reach out to services such as Nottingham Nightline or your university’s wellbeing service.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

‘I didn’t talk to anyone’: Notts students on how they got over first year loneliness

Nottingham Nightline is the service you need to know about