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University: ‘The Best Three Years of Your Life’… So They Say

Okay, so you’ve turned eighteen, been out drinking with your friends around your hometown, maybe even experienced a few cheeky weekends away with the girls. School’s finished, and you’re all packed up and ready to move to your new city to commence your degree and, of course, ‘the best three years of your life’. So you think…

University can be, and is for so many, exactly that. New friends, new experiences, parties, events… you name it, and some people experience it. And I mean all of it! However, for some people, and a lot more then I think most think, moving away from home and being in a completely new, strange environment can be, or seem to be, the worst time of your life.

Let’s be realistic, eighteen is pretty young. Not only have you got to choose a course that’s supposed to lead to your future career, but you’re also expected to move away from your loving family to a cold, small room with a shared kitchen (and sometimes shared bathroom) with complete strangers and forced to look after yourself whilst ‘slotting in’ to your ‘new’ family. It’s a pretty big ask. And not a surprise that so many people, so often secretly, actually really do not enjoy their first experiences at Uni. And it’s why here, I’m saying it’s okay. It’s normal. Don’t freak out.

Fresher’s Week:

Let’s start at the beginning. ‘Fresher’s Week’; the week to party with your new ‘best’ friends, drink yourself silly and make memories of a life time. Wrong. The idealised vision is of course overly told and rarely experienced. Realistically, the girl you met an hour ago is not going to be your BFF after one drunken night out. And it is actually pretty normal to feel slightly awkward with these people. You don’t actually know them, do you? You can’t guarantee they’re going to sort you out if you drink too much or just throw you in a taxi by yourself. So that’s my first reassurance to any uneasy freshers; if your first week at University was not the best week of your life, it’s okay.

‘Your flatmates will be your best mates’:

Oh gosh. How many times have you been told that the people you live with in first year will be your best friends for life? Every person you speak to tells the same story; you’ll all meet, have a few laughs together, get drunk together and bam! You’re best friends. Well, not exactly. At least not for everyone. Think about it. You apply for the accommodation that to you looks the best, you say your preferences of living with males, females or both, smoking or non-smoking, loud or quiet… and then the University groups similar answers together and throws you in a flat with, well, complete strangers. Now, these could well be the friend for life you’ve been destined to meet. Or, they could be the most annoying group of people you’ve ever come across. Or maybe, quite simply, they’re just not your cup of tea. Fret not little freshers! Again, this is normal. If you’re flat isn’t for you for whatever reason, socialise at flat parties with other flats, speak to people on your course, but don’t think that there’s something wrong with you because you haven’t instantly clicked with your new house. Alternatively, if you’re starting to worry about your ‘house for next year’ and you haven’t come across anyone who you really feel comfortable with, there’s plenty of websites such as Unipol where you can find people, meet up and maybe they’ll be your new best friends.

Life without your parents is the best:

At first, the dream of living a parent-free life seems like bliss. No chores, no orders, no curfew. The dream of most eager party teens. But reality steps in. After the first week of eating all your mum’s pre-made home-cooked meals and when you’ve worn your final pair of undies, the hardships of living solo starts to seem a lot less appealing. When bags of rice become dinner and white washing is no longer white, you might start regretting ignoring your mum and playing on your phone when she was giving you a crash course on living alone. But one of the main things a lot of freshers seem to neglect when they first pack up is that living without their parents is actually pretty tough, emotionally. It’s okay to miss them. It’s okay to want to go home for the weekend, or ask them to pop up and see you. Living alone is a big step, especially for you young ones. It doesn’t mean you’re immature or dependent. It’s natural. But hang in there. You will get used to it, and it will stop being as hard, I promise!

So there you have it. The ‘best three years of your life’ doesn’t always get off on the right foot. And that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. Trust me, there’s more people struggling that you realise, people are pretty good at covering things up. But no matter what, whether it’s friends or family at home or that one person at uni you feel comfortable with, there’s always someone there ready to listen if you’re having a bad day. It gets better, don’t worry!


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