Two years ago I was waiting to start a new life at university but I didn’t quite realise just how much it would change me. I had left college that summer with good grades, a great job and amazing friends I had known most my life. But I couldn’t help feeling scared of what the future had in store for me. I had dreamt about moving away and studying at university for a long time but there was something holding me back.
I loved studying at college so I was excited to throw myself into all the lectures and seminars and really show what I was capable of. But the idea of living in a new city with new flatmates without my mum, my sister or my best friends to support me felt like a massive challenge. And with anxiety on top of all these worries I felt like university was going to swallow me whole. Finding the confidence to introduce myself to all the new faces and make myself heard amongst all the loud voices was sometimes daunting. Arriving for freshers week I had fully convinced myself it would be a long three years of feeling homesick and not quite fitting in.
I remember sitting in my halls of residence on the first day of freshers week crying and begging for my mum to take me back home with her. Everything about university was making me feel incredibly anxious. In the midst of what we are told is meant to be the happiest and most exciting time of our life I was saying the unsayable, I wasn’t happy. I didn’t want to step out of my comfort zone and I felt like I was the only fresher in the world who was feeling this way. With every poster and flyer telling me I HAD TO HAVE FUN, I felt like a failure on the days when it was even a struggle chatting to my new flatmates.
I hope all the nervous newbies who are about to become freshers very soon will read this and realise that everyone is in the same boat: I should have never worried. Within two or three weeks of moving to Liverpool I was starting to find my feet and dare I say it actually enjoying myself. In a matter of months my confidence had grown and so had my independence. And as I head into my final year as an undergrad I can honestly say I’m gutted the past two years have gone so fast and that its rare that I ever feel homesick. I also found my anxiety dramatically change at university too. As my confidence grew my anxiety became less and less until the point that I didn’t even recognise this new person I had become.
At university you can find out who you really want to be by joining societies, living with strangers, experiencing your first foam party and actually managing to cook something edible besides beans on toast. You’ll find a new love for your chosen subject even if you do have to endure one or two modules of mind-numbingly boring topics. But in all of this there is one thing to remember: it doesn’t happen over night. If you go home at Christmas thinking you still haven’t met your closest friends or you still haven’t made plans for next year’s accommodation, don’t worry. I didn’t meet my best friend until second semester in first year and in second year I have found even more people I’ve become closer with.
All the big scary things about university with time disappeared. I started to properly speak up in seminar debates, I became a member of the most random societies I never thought even existed and I gave a speech in order to be elected as this newspaper’s president and editor-in-chief. Having confidence and belief in yourself is your biggest challenge and university has taught me exactly how to do that. The important thing to remember is that at university you can bet every fresher will be feeling exactly the same. Second year and third year students students have all been there and done it so look to us for support by joining societies and getting to know as many people as you can.
Your time at university can really be some of the best years of your life so don’t fret about the future because it’s going to happen anyway. Now is the time to throw yourself into university life and find out who you really are. I am far from the girl I once was sitting in my small student flat crying about the scary task that lay ahead of me. I wish I had known when I was a fresher that I was far from alone and neither are you. It is okay to feel scared, nervous, anxious, unhappy, excited and overwhelmed all in one day, or even all at once.
University is like a rollercoaster ride – there are ups and downs but that’s all part of the fun. Give yourself time to find your feet and have faith in yourself that everything will work out eventually.
If you ever feel you need help, advice or information, please see the following places for support:
- University Student Support offers a mental health advisory service. You can email, firstname.lastname@example.org , or drop in and see them at Alsop Building on Brownlow Hill.