Moving away to uni can be one of the most exciting things to happen to you. It can also be one of the most daunting things you’ll ever face. There’s the deadlines, responsibility, and having to meet entirely new people. With that in mind, we asked people about their experiences, and what advice they’d offer for coping while away at uni. Here’s 13 bits of advice for coping at uni:
There’s a certain perception of what it is to be a university student. But you know what? It’s ok if you don’t fit that. It doesn’t make you weird if you don’t want to go out drinking every night. It doesn’t make you weird if you do. Don’t try and live up to what you think people want you to be. Be yourself.
Again, at the end of the day, you’re here because you want to be (or at least, hopefully you do!), so don’t worry about what other people are doing, and do your own thing. It might feel like you’re missing out sometimes, but that’s ok. You’ll have more fun if you do things your way.
One of the things that’s kinda cool about starting in a new place like uni is that everyone’s actually in the same boat. Chances are, if you’re worried about going and knocking on the next door and meeting your neighbours, they’re sat in their room worrying the same thing. So because everyone’s just as scared they won’t fit in, or don’t want to look stupid, just get stuck in, and lead the way. You’ll both appreciate it. If you REALLY want to break the ice, start a conversation about how everyone else must be just as scared of starting conversations. It’ll blow their minds. Probably.
A lot of this advice is based around the idea of meeting new people. See, lots of people we surveyed were nervous about meeting new people. Some found it really hard. But the thing is: when you’re in a new situation like this, it’s your chance to almost re-invent yourself – to leave behind any negative bits of yourself, and start from the top.
You’re gonna be learning a huge amount of stuff in the next few years. You might learn it from a lecturer telling you. You might learn by doing some Googling. You might learn that leaving milk in the fridge for 9 months ain’t the best idea you’ve ever had. But everyone around you is learning too. Ask loads of questions, go looking for help with whatever you need. Whether that’s advice on handling money, or something about your course, your uni should be able to help you out, or at least point you in the right direction.
So this is the one that people are probably going to have told you over and over: find a good work-play balance. It’s actually pretty hard to put in to practise, in my experience. The best thing you can do is to actually start all your work as early as possible, and get it done, and out of the way, so you’ve got time to go socialise and explore. The tricky bit is keeping that up all year round.. But make sure you do give yourself a break. Get out and enjoy this experience.
Yup. You’re here to learn. You’re here to get a piece of paper that shouldmake you more employable. But actually, it’s about so much more than that. It’s about the people you’ll meet, the stories you’ll have to tell, the things you learn about life, the mistakes you make, the late nights, the parties, the work, the time on your own in your room. All of it makes you a more rounded person, the good and the bad, and you’ll walk away from uni feeling that much stronger, regardless of what grade you leave with. Some of my friends who are doing the best for themselves are the ones who did worst academically. Go figure.
You know I’m a big believer in “It’s not about forcing happiness; it’s about not letting sadness win”, so I was pretty pleased to see someone wrote this. If you don’t feel like you’re having the amazing wild party time that you thought you should be, refer to the first point in this post. It’s ok to be sad, and not constantly having the best time of your life. This is a huge thing you’re going through, and a pretty life changing experience. It’s natural for you to get a bit overwhelmed by it all. But it won’t be that way forever. Things can and will change for the better.
A few people mentioned about this. Joining societies through the uni was a way that a lot of people met new friends, and found people with shared interests, as well as giving them something to get really stuck into and distract them. (Check out Steve’s story, and how joining the live music society helped him). And also make the most of chances to go and do things when they’re offered, but know when to say no. You’ve got work to get done, and you’ve got to take care of yourself.
Go over and talk to the guy you think you wouldn’t get on with. You’ll surprise yourself at how much you might have in common. Or go to a society to learn something entirely new. Don’t just go to the same club or bar every week, do something different. Try and find things outside of your course that you might not have considered otherwise. Who knows where it’ll take you.
If you feel you’ve met good people, then talk with them regularly (cups of tea and a chat were a staple part of my uni house experience). If you’ve not met people at uni, then call home regularly. If you don’t want to call home, then talk to someone in the uni – most universities have a counselling service who are prepared for the sorts of problems you’re gonna be facing. Or there’s always a range of help lines available – Nightline are an awesome service specifically aimed at students. But once you let someone know you’re struggling, they can do something to help. And again, because everyone’s in the same boat, chances are you’re definitely not the only one feeling that way.
This response was awesome: “Don’t be afraid to say no. Turning down a night out or something to meet a deadline might make you sound like a killjoy, but it could change your future. Make arrangements to make up for it another time. Also don’t be afraid to ask for help. Do what’s right for you, it’s not being selfish. Consider others but don’t be controlled. If you don’t forge your own path, who else will? Be determined, prove the doubters wrong.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Whatever happens, whatever result you get, however many people you meet, you’re going to learn a huge amount about yourself. Personally, my time at uni was when I grew the most. I changed from being shy, insecure, and self-loathing into a more confident person. Take things at your own pace, and just go with the flow. Take every day as it comes, take every opportunity you get, and enjoy this time while you’ve got it. Cuz it’s gonna FLY by.