Dear Freshers, it's okay if this is the worst week of your life

Since my first term at university, I have been wanting to write this, it’s something I wished I could have read on my first night. Before you get to uni, all anyone can talk about is fresher’s week. They say you’ll meet friends for life, you’ll go out every night and have wild stories to tell, try out new hobbies and join societies. Mostly, they say it’s going to be the best week of your life. But it’s not quite so for everyone, and certainly wasn’t for me. 

I spent my first night at uni having one of the biggest panic attacks of my life, crying my eyes out down the phone to my mum with no idea what to do. I didn’t know how I was going to fit in, what on earth I was going to do here all alone, or how I’d ever have the courage to go on a night out. I was so distraught my parents genuinely considered phoning campus security. For the rest of the week my days consisted of being terrified and awkward at taster sessions, having dinner than returning to my room and crying down the phone to my boyfriend, followed by crying in the shower and then crying myself to sleep as I heard the laughter from people who were doing fresher’s ‘right’. I can say for sure, that freshers week was the worst week of my life so far, and it made it worse that every one of my friends from home, and the people I met here, seemed to be having a great time.

I know I’ve painted a pretty bleak picture, but I’m writing this to show you that your introduction to university can feel that bad, and still turn out well, and I wish I’d known that this time last year. I wanted to write this so that anyone starting uni knows they’re not alone!

I know it’s cliché, but as my mum was saying on the phone to me that night, it will get better. Looking back, I know that every single day was a little better than the last, even if I couldn’t quite tell then. After a few nights, I stopped having regular panic attacks/breakdowns throughout the day, then I managed to shower without crying for the first time, then I managed my first night out (even if it was just the on-campus club). Once term officially started, each day I would become less scared walking into a seminar, and more confident in the work I was doing. Each day I was trying something that helped me feel more comfortable, overcoming what felt like mile high barriers, and getting closer to feeling good again. Sometimes it really was baby steps, but I got there and you must celebrate that progress.

Another piece of advice I would give is not to compare your experience of freshers week to a single other persons. No one is going to advertise the bad times, so tormenting yourselves with all their good times is only going to make you feel worse; everyone cries into their cereals at least once! But then again, some people just suit freshers; perhaps a friend from home is there, or they’re naturally an extrovert. It doesn’t matter! This is only a week, it wil end and throughout the year you will have your good times. 

Some other random pieces of advice – 

  1. If you can’t calm down enough to sleep, or feel really alone, putting talkradio on as you sleep can really help! Make it quite quiet and just focus on whatever they’re saying.
  2. Making a happy playlist can sometimes really help pull you up just enough to carry on with your day.
  3. You may not be able to go out, but this is still a week without parents and with very limited work. Binge watch a new series, read a book, do all of the chill things you like doing that you’ll wish you had time for when exam season comes around. Your fresher’s week doesn’t have to be spent the same as everyone else’s 

In the end, there is every chance things will work out great, no matter how much it feels like it’s the end. I started my first year, in a room that felt alien, without friends here and convinced I’d never find them, with no idea how I would fit in here or how I would cope. Now, as I’m writing this with only a few weeks before the end of my first year, I sit in a room covered in my silly drawings (and a lot of my rubbish but whatever its exam season) and I’ve come to love this room (and the view I will never be able to afford in my adult life) very much. I’m eating a brownie made by one of my best friends here, excited to go on a trip with my uni friends in a few weeks. I am writing this article, for HerCampus which I very much would like to write for, for as long as I am here. I am excited to live in a house with my friends next year, excited to go out with my course mates after exams, I am excited for everything the rest of uni has to hold, perhaps except the exams. 

 In fresher’s week, I really didn’t think it was possible for me to feel this settled here, and I desperately wanted to go home. So, if you’re reading this and feel the same, I promise, just because fresher’s has been a bust for you, doesn’t mean you aren’t going to enjoy uni. Just take a deep breath, you’ll get there.