Friday 25 September 2015

My reflections on starting university...

- Grace 

So you've just got a place at university, well done! Everyone you know is telling you that you are about to start 'the best time of your life'. Maybe you’re feeling a little fear and apprehension, the change is all a bit too much. You feel you should be excited, you feel you should be acting a certain way, is this normal? Yes of course you’re bound to be nervous, going to university is exciting but it is something new which I understand can be pretty overwhelming. So in short terms, the answer is there is no set way or "normal" way to feel...

I remember how I felt going to university all too well. At first I was extremely excited, buying everything I possibly could; things for my kitchen, decoration for my bedroom, photos to make me feel at home, essentially everything but the kitchen sink! However, once all this was sorted, I was like WAIT, I am actually leaving and going to an unknown town, where I won’t know anyone. This excitement then led to fear. I wouldn't be surrounded by my family and friends. I would have a new home, with new people, who I didn't even know yet. 

For me personally the hardest thing transiting to university was the fear of the people I would leave behind and the thought of having to make new friends (would they like me? would they think I was weird? would we have things in common?). I knew my family would always be there but the people I had been to school with for the past 7 years, the people I saw every single day at school, wouldn't be in my life regularly any more. This scared me, I felt that they would forget about me and our friendships would be over. I didn't want to change and I didn't want them to change. However, after an evening at our local with lots of tears, reminiscing and dancing, it was time to say goodbye. As each person left, hugs were given, fears exchanged. It was a beautiful night which made me feel like I was ready. Not only was I scared, they were also scared, I was not alone in this transition and it was something that we all had to get used to.

The next day I started on my journey to Plymouth, university here I come! Being crammed in the car, with barely enough space left for me to sit and a nervous Mum and Dad the journey began. Arriving into Plymouth I was greeted by a nice student who directed me to my halls, showed me the ropes and then left. After climbing the many stairs, 100s of times to move my stuff in, why did I think I needed so much stuff?! It was time to say goodbye. Waving my Mum and Dad off, the door shut. WOW this was it I was on my own and I needed to go and socialise and try and meet people. With all my nerves I actually threw myself into this, talking to everyone, putting on a brave face. Seeing one of my flat mates crying once her family left made me realise that she is in exactly the same position and no one should be embarrassed to be upset about saying goodbye to their loved ones. 

As someone who enjoys going out I through myself into this, maybe a bit too much. I would advise being careful in freshers week because it is only too easy to burn yourself out. Make sure you eat properly, are careful with your alcohol intake and please try and get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is enough to impact anyone's wellbeing. Be aware of when things are too much. It’s okay to say to your flat mates that you want to slow down, maybe organise a film night or a night chilling and drinking copious amounts of tea (my favourite kind of night!). You'll be surprised to find out that they too quite fancy a night in and are very happy with this idea.

If you don't drink or going out isn't your scene then this is okay. Do not be scared thinking you will be the only one, because you won’t be. There will be many other people in the same situation, trust me. You don't need to go out to meet people; you will meet people within your accommodation, when out exploring the city your university is in, at events the university will put on during the day. Also, don't forget to join sports clubs and societies - it gives you a chance to meet like-minded people. Even if you haven't tried a certain thing before, why not join, you may be surprised how much you enjoy it. 

University does seem scary and it is a big change but think about all the thousands of students who are moving to university this year. All are likely to be feeling similar to you, all scared about meeting people and leaving people behind. After a few weeks of being at university the apprehension will die down you will meet some amazing people. Even though I am going into my fourth year, I still make friends all the time, the process of university is amazing, everyone is so friendly and you will meet people from all waves of life, which I have really enjoyed. 

I am also still in touch with my friends from home. We have changed, but I would like to think that we have all changed for the better and are developing into the adults we are about to become. I could not be prouder of all of their achievements and even though sometimes it feels like we are growing apart, this is also bringing us together. As one of my friends sent to my home group chat yesterday - "shout out to my low maintenance friends, the ones you don't talk to for months, because you are both living your lives, but when you meet up, there's nothing but love." This is so true and no one will be able to take away the friendship you have had. Despite the time and distance apart, they will still always be there.

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