Wednesday 24 September 2014

Freshers' week at the University of Nottingham - 3

- Jonathan Davies, Nottingham Student Minds

24th September
It feels like you only just got here but halfway through week one so much has happened you could have been a Nottingham student forever. As fresher’s week begins to taper off lectures loom ever closer and all of a sudden your presence in such a large university begins to feel a little overwhelming. Or exciting. Maybe you’re tired. You might be finding the whole experience a little intimidating, or perhaps you thrive off it. It’s possible you’re feeling alone, or crowded, or comfortably familiar with the new friends you’ve chosen to spend your week with.

Or maybe you’re feeling none of the above.

There’s no magic formula for being at university. Every year hundreds of preparatory articles for incoming students trend online but the absence of an important lesson is palpable: nobody’s student experience is the same and you shouldn’t feel any pressure to change yours in accordance to the “stereotypical student lifestyle” because it’s a myth. Over the last few days hundreds of new students have chatted to the Student Minds team in the Great Hall at GP registration and it couldn’t be clearer that everyone’s individual hopes, fears, experiences, and expectations are very different. Whilst some are buzzing from the Nottingham nightlife others live for exploring one of the greenest campuses in Europe.

If there’s one thing all students have in common it’s that they want to enjoy university. And everyone can! Nottingham’s huge Student’s Unions offers everything from deeply involved people-orientated activities that give you the chance to perform, debate, and compete, right down to niche groups with shared hobbies, or even just a shared desire to have a quiet evening watching an indie movie, baking cakes, or playing board games.

Sometimes it can feel threatening to see people settling into their groove and acclimatising to student life faster than you are. If people around you seem to have grown thriving groups of friends apparently out of thin air and you’re still finding your feet in that tricky balance between studying, socialising, and simply existing in a new and potentially frightening environment, remember that there’s no right way to be a student and there’s no pace too slow for making your mark and finding your corner. “Everyone does things in their own way” may sound like a cliché but it’s an immutable fact of student life. Nottingham is a culturally diverse hub of undergraduates and postgraduates of all ages from all over the globe, and it’s this reality that encapsulates what it means to be a student - it means whatever you choose it to mean.

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