Your first term at university might not be easy, but by following a few tips, you’ll soon find that you’re making friends and settling in. Be brave, take your time and remember that all freshers are in the same boat!
Your first term at university may turn out to be many things, but one thing you can be sure of is that it will bring you plenty of challenges. One of the main things you’re going to have to overcome is the potential loneliness if you’re slow to make friends, and the horrible feeling of being homesick if you’re not used to being independent.
Moving away from your family and all that’s familiar can be a real wrench and the shock of having to do everything yourself can leave you feeling ill-prepared and out of your depth. Of course it’s not like this for everybody, some people are naturally very confident and find it easy to approach new people, but most new students will have some kind of teething problems during their first term.
Remember – you’re not alone!
The first thing to remember is that however much you may feel like you’re alone, you’re not; there will be plenty of other new students feeling exactly the same as you. There are thousands of students every year who spend a chunk of time (and money) phoning home and saying they hate their new life, but nearly all of them soon relax into it and start to enjoy things – and the same thing will apply to you. In time, you will make friends and start adapting to your new lifestyle – so go easy on yourself! Take advantage of email, keep in touch with family and absent friends using social media and call someone for a chat when you need a bit of reassurance – they’ll understand and give you the support you need to get you through the tough times.
The other thing you need to do is to start taking small steps to making friends. Sit and read a book in the student bar, giving a smile and nod to those around you, or stick a pound on the pool table and play a few games with some new faces – many a friendship is forged through mutual interests or a laugh over a beer and a game. In fact, bearing this in mind, it can also be worthwhile looking for like-minded people by taking a logical and proactive approach. Join a club where you can meet people with similar hobbies – it could be anything; chess, darts, books, music, walking or whatever you fancy, just think about something you enjoy doing and seek out others who are doing the same.
Make your living situation work for you
If you’re finding your own digs rather than going into halls, it can be a good idea to speak to some local, experienced student letting agents to see where the best areas are for a social life and also to enlist their help in finding others to share with. They are likely to have a list of other single students who need to find sharers so they can apply for a house or flat, so it’s worth a try. If you’re sharing accommodation, whether privately or in halls, offer to cook your student flatmates a meal, or organise a night of beer and board games – however nervous you are, you need to make an effort. People will really appreciate it and you’ll soon start to make friends.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that there will undoubtedly be support services at your university. They’re there to help, and may also know other students who are struggling to settle in – form an allegiance, there’s power in numbers! Try welfare officers, student support or counselling services – or you can even stick a ‘wanted’ poster up on a notice board asking for people to get in touch for gigs/clubbing/pub quiz teams or whatever works for you.
Your first term is bound to be full of ups and downs, but don’t do anything rash. If you drop out in a moment of loneliness, you could really regret it – take a deep breath, relax and take the rough with the smooth. By your second term, you’ll be living student life to the full, and enjoying every minute of it.
Guest post by Louise Nelhams, from Leeds student property specialist, A-Team Properties.