12 Days of Freshers

Advice From A Graduate- Starting University

Emily Hall

On the first day of freshers, Emily gives us advice for starting uni as somebody who’s been there and come out of it in one piece.

“It’ll be fine”.

Ask any of my friends and this has become a sort of catchphrase of mine. My ‘go-to’ answer for pretty much any situation. Running late for the train? It’ll be fine. Still got 2,000 words of your essay to write? It’ll be fine.

The reasoning of this completely undeserved and often incorrect confidence is because for someone like me, it is easier to assume the best in a situation than let my mind run to the alternative.

This is coming from someone who used to be a certified “what if” person. What if I feel really anxious somewhere and have to leave? What if I move away to uni and don’t find anyone I can be myself around? What if University is 3 years of mental and financial crippling which I don’t recover from?

I can’t promise that that won’t happen, but I can reassure you, as someone who has recently graduated from uni, that it is possible to have a really great experience, despite all the anxiety and worries you might be feeling now about moving away from home.

To be taken completely out of your comfort zone and thrust into new social situations, it is normal to feel incredibly anxious

Remember that going to Uni is a really big step. Huge. For some people life changing (go with me here I’m not trying to stress you out more…). In order to go through such a big life step, to grow academically and emotionally, to be taken completely out of your comfort zone and thrust into new social situations, it is normal to feel incredibly anxious. Apprehensive. Absolutely bloody terrified.

It would be more unusual if you weren’t feeling any of these things before moving away to university.  Some people don’t experience these emotions, and are filled only with joy and excitement at the prospect of moving away from home and embarking on Uni life. If you are one of these people then that is amazing, and going into situations with confidence and a positive attitude will probably serve you really well.

However, it is completely normal to not feel this way. It is easy to feel pretty intimidated by these people, but remember, its easy to fake confidence. It’s actually sometimes easier to fake it than to admit how you’re actually feeling.

“Fake it till you make it”- another saying I use a lot, which sometimes is great, and gives you that little ‘push’ to go out and try new things with confidence, but sometimes, admitting that actually you’re not feeling 100% or are actually worried and afraid of something, is a far better approach.

I realise that is a lot easier said than done. Moving away to university you are thrown into so many unknown situations, and placed in unfamiliar surroundings with unknown people. It seems to go against our natural instinct of suppressing our emotions and how we’re feeling if we all went “hey do you know what I am actually completely overwhelmed and anxious about this whole uni situation anyone else ha ha anyway hi I’m Em what are you studying”.

You may even make friends on your mutual anxiety (speaking from experience… friends who stress together, stay together)

But trust me, so many people will be feeling that way. So I encourage you to be honest, as much as you’re comfortable to be. You may even make friends on your mutual anxiety (speaking from experience…friends who stress together, stay together).

I encourage you to be yourself, as cliché as it sounds. Remember that whatever you’re feeling, whether it is pure excitement or absolute fear, you will not be the only person feeling that way. I took massive comfort in this.

Despite being surrounded by people, Uni can at times seem like a dauntingly lonely endeavour which you are making alone. But other people feel like this. Lots of people. That I can promise.

Have faith in yourself that you can make the experience whatever you want it to be, and try and take the anxious moments in your stride. They make you human. They mean you’re experiencing life, you’re recognising that going to uni is a big step, and one which you’re taking. So, good luck, and remember that help is there for you if you need it.

Emily Hall

Featured image courtesy of Element5 Digital via Unsplash. Image license found hereNo changes were made to this image. 

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