How to cope with Fresher's nerves
It's normal to feel anxious about starting university, especially this year as things will be different. Mary, 19, shares her tips for coping with nerves about making friends, finding your place at uni and more.
Going to university is something I always aimed for and knew was right for me. However, closer to the time, I found myself becoming more anxious about living away from home, the change in life-style, leaving my friends and family and starting afresh. Normal fears that most people have. Normal fears which are over-powering at the time, but possible to overcome.
One year on, I can now say that university has changed me for the better and these concerns seem a long time ago. So with freshers starting uni now or soon, what can you do to enjoy rather than worry?
This year will be different, but the essentials are the same
There is no point denying that this year will be different for incoming and current university students. However, the uni essentials are the same: flatmates, friends and settling in. As a very anxious person, but also an extrovert and someone who enjoys going out, I was desperate to find people similar to those I left at home. This isn’t always found among your flatmates, but that doesn’t mean you won't find your group eventually.
If, like me, you are really lucky with your flatmates, commit to going to events and having flat nights in with them. The worst thing to do in this stage is to lock yourself in your room and focus on the anxiety surrounding the situation. For anybody who does not find their flatmates are their perfect group, make sure you have a good relationship with them and do not judge! This is your time to enjoy the company of different sorts of people, and you can’t do that with a closed mindset.
Keep your eyes (and your mind) open
No matter their background or mental health, this is a new experience for everyone, and everyone is nervous to some degree.
Whether or not your flatmates are your perfect group, also keep an open mind in looking out for future friends in the uni events. This will be different this year, and depends very much on the possible ways of socialising safely. Whether this is socially-distanced picnicking or exchanging social medias in passing where you feel comfortable doing this, try to branch out and meet different sorts of people. This is so easy to do in the first couple of weeks of uni. It will help you feel more comfortable and more able to call on different groups.
This is the time in your life it is completely acceptable to walk up to someone and ask to be their friend – so do this!
Whether an introvert or extrovert, awkwardness is hard to overcome when you don’t know anyone. Try not to feel disheartened if you don’t immediately bond with your flatmates or anyone else you meet. Friendships do take time, and while you will definitely get your group of friends, it does take more than a week to properly solidify friendships. Think about how long you’ve known your friends from home!
You are also never alone in trying to make friends. Other people will be looking too, and although it may seem based on social media pictures that you are ‘failing’ at the uni experience if you have not yet found your ‘uni bestie’, this isn’t the case. Don’t feel pressured by social media either – everyone’s experiences are different and only the best parts will be posted. Keep this in mind.
Remember there's no rush
Get involved as much as possible, and enjoy other people’s company but do not put pressure on yourself or others to immediately ‘click’ and be friends forever. This will come. Just sometimes not immediately.
No matter what happens in the first week, you have a whole three years (or more!) to enjoy this experience. Sometimes, friends will come and go, but you're never alone. There are services attached to the uni who will help you if you do feel low. If you think you will feel sad or anxious, contact these and familiarise yourself with the process as soon as you can – this will help in the long run. There’s no shame in this – more people will do this than you’d expect.
No matter what happens in the first week:
- Throw yourself into the events when and where you can.
- Be friendly, open-minded and interested.
- Remember you are not alone and thousands are feeling the same as you are.
- Focus on the positives – starting uni can be really fun if you try not to put pressure yourself.
Good luck and enjoy being a fresher!
Author: Mary, 19
Where to get help
For more tips and advice about prioritising your mental health at uni, have a look at our page on looking after yourself at uni.