Saturday 6 October 2018

#Dear Fresher Me

Michael writes about some tips and tricks he wish he knew as a fresher. 

Starting university can be a really fun, exciting, and self-defining experience. But it can also be challenging, particularly whilst you settle in and find your feet. I started university after spending two years in full time work and I found it really intimidating and overwhelming. I felt like I didn’t belong and this made me anxious around others and pretty hard on myself. 5 years later I am still at uni and much happier. Here, I give my 5 #DearFresherMe tips for managing when you start university.

1.      Find Your University Support
You might not need it but it’s always helpful to have an idea early on of where to go for support if you feel like are struggling. Find out what student welfare services and general pastoral care your university provides, what they do, and how to access them. It helped me to speak to a member of the welfare team on the first day - after that, they looked out for me during the first few weeks whilst I was struggling.

2.      Ask for Help if You Need It. 
Speak up if you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious. I found that people were really supportive and accommodating if they knew you were struggling but, with so many other students, they might not realise something is wrong unless you tell them. Equally don’t be afraid to ask about uni life more generally. I thought that if I asked questions about the academic or social elements of university life, people would think I was stupid. But it becomes harder to ask the longer time goes on. The opening few weeks are a really good time to explore how everything works and ask questions.

3.      Get into a Healthy Routine.
You might find when you get to University that you have less compulsory contact hours than you expected. For some, this can make it hard to know when the work starts, whilst, for others, it can be hard to know when it stops. Either way, it will be helpful to get into a healthy routine early on to help balance your time and look after yourself. I found that it helped to treat my uni work as a job with set times and spaces; I chose to only work at the library so that I could keep my room as a time and space for me. 

4.      Get Organised
Because I felt anxious and overwhelmed, it really helped to get organised. Use a diary, record academic deadlines and other commitments, file your work, and regularly check and sort your university emails to make sure that you are on track and don’t miss anything. This will likely save you some stress and last minute panics!

5.      Relationships Matter.
Having a good support network of friends will help you get the most out of your university experience. Although building new friendships takes time and effort, it really is worth it. If you find it hard meeting new people, you won’t be alone – there will be other people that will feel the same and really appreciate a smile and a chat. Or you could try to find ways of meeting people with similar interests by joining societies or volunteering.

Everybody’s university journey is unique, and we all go to university with different hopes, fears and expectations. Try to take things at your own pace based on the advice that feels right for you. 

About Michael:

Hi, I'm Michael. I'm a postgraduate student at Durham. I want to write for Student Minds to share my own experiences of depression and anxiety and tackle the stigma around mental health.

Some useful links:
Finding Support:
Transition to university:
Looking after your wellbeing:

No comments:

Post a Comment