Tuesday 31 October 2017

Fresher’s Fever: behind the curtain of euphoria

Emma writes about how being a Fresher isn't necessarily carefree and the best time of your life, and reassures readers that if you're struggling to settle into uni, you won't be the only one who feels this way.

- Emma Wilson


Low self-esteem.

Perceived rejection.

These are the feelings that are seemingly hidden behind the mask of Fresher’s fever.

University can be the best time of your life. It is a chance to make long-lasting friendships, learn from professors who are experts in their subject area, and experience the big wide world outside of the family home.

But there is another side to starting university, one that isn’t glamourised in the news or spoken about during sixth-form. And that is dealing with the emotions, thoughts and feelings that arise when dealing with a new environment. This is most apparent in the first few weeks of university, when social events take place and friendships are being formed.

Amidst the haze and whirlwind of Fresher’s week and your first few months at university, it may get to the point where you start to wonder: am I fitting in? Why are those girls hanging out but haven’t invited me? Why do I feel lonely when last night I felt on top of the world? I didn’t go to clubbing last night, will I now be an outsider? Have I missed out?

Let me tell you this. How you feel is how most people feel when starting university. Seriously. It is only in hindsight and having spoken to university friends that I have learned just how terrified everyone feels during those first few weeks or months. It is amazing what persona people can put on during the quest for acceptance amongst one’s peers.

It is also important to gain some perspective about meeting new people. If you're lucky, you'll get on with your new flatmate as soon as you realise your mutual love for the Great British Bake Off. But more often than not, it can take a while to find a group of people that match your interests. 

It is important to remember this: friendships don’t form overnight – not those which will stand the test of time. These strong bonds develop over months or years. Just think about the friends you have from back home. Those who mean the most won’t leave your life. In fact, going to university or moving away is a real test of any friendship. Having graduated from university in 2013, I can see this now. I ended up becoming good friends with people from outside of my course; those I hadn’t even met until the second term, or even the second year of university. People come and go in our lives. It’s important to be surrounded by people who inspire you, who drive you forward – who make you feel good about who you are.

My final piece of advice is this: enjoy the start of your university adventure. It is an experience like no other. But try to remember who you are. It’s good to step outside your comfort zone, but don’t go beyond your limits – respect yourself, and others will respect you. Don’t worry about being called the “boring one” for not taking 10 shots of tequila. And don’t feel like you don’t deserve to join your flatmates on a trip to Nando’s just because you never received that text message – it’s nothing personal, things just get a little hectic. And if these doubts start to creep into your mind, don’t fret. Chances are, most people are feeling the same.

If you are finding the start of university tough, we have more information about tips for settling in, missing home, and ways of looking after yourself on the Student Minds website here and information about finding support here

Hi everyone, I'm Emma. I graduated from King's College London in 2013 and completed an MSc in 2016. I struggled with different mental and physical health problems whilst at university and am keen to share some of the things that did, and didn't, help in my recovery. I now write, train and consult in the field of mental health and you can find me on Twitter (@MindfulEm).

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