Keep Fresh: Starting University

Keep Fresh is qmunicate’s survival guide series to freshers’ week – from halls to hangovers, moving to mental health, your big auntie qmunicate is here to get you through.

Freshers’ week is coming to an end, and now it all begins! This is the start of the next four or more years of your life. Starting it, of course, will be easy. Grab a pen, grab some books and just attend lectures, easy right? Well, of course, it isn’t so simple. You’ll notice that it is very, very different from high school. Arts subjects have very little contact hours, especially in comparison to your school. Many people, especially at first, struggle with the large increase of independent studying, and that’s ok!

It is also very important to look after yourself. As said before, university is a very stressful and intense time and does affect you in strange ways. If you need to take some time for yourself, then that’s completely fine. If you do find yourself struggling, I can’t emphasise this enough, talk to someone! Everyone around you is going through the same thing; whether you’re a first or fifth year the start of a new uni year is always just as stressful.

University is also a time for transitions: if you want to, you can completely reinvent yourself. You have no responsibilities to old friends back home and can pick and choose who you stay in contact with. University is the time that you can discover who you are and explore who you really want to be. My advice here would be to definitely take this slowly; don’t expect to be able to come to university and suddenly be able to completely reinvent yourself. Ensure that you are discovering who you really want to be and not just attempting to fit into what your new friends think. Similarly, don’t go to things just because you think they’re cool, instead go to things that you really want to do.

Homesickness can be a problem for many, especially in freshers’ week and so contact with home is very important. University is stressful enough, and going home can be some time away from it all. For those who can go frequently, home can be a time to reflect and refocus. Sometimes, all you need is the support of some age-old friends, or even your parents to properly get you back into a working mindset. For those who can’t go home, sometimes it is just staying in contact with a good friend from your past. Chatting to them, or hearing them from them every now and again. It’s a very calming thing to ‘see’ or talk to a friendly face when you’re just meeting a whole load of new people.

It should, of course, also be said: enjoy it! But at the same time, don’t worry if you struggle to. University can be hard; for many it’s the first time away from home and having to move to a new city and make new friends whilst also managing to cook for yourself and do your own washing is very difficult. There will be ups, there will be downs, there will be Ds, and there will be As. But it’s all about finding your stride. So go and get your university life started!

[David O’Ryan]

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