University years are so often described as the best years of your life, and with so many expectations, it can be confusing and upsetting if you find yourself struggling at university. I think it’s important to recognise that university isn’t all plain sailing, there’s going to be some difficult experiences. So I thought I’d give some advice on a few common worries people have about university life. These are just my take on issues based on my own experiences, if you’re really struggling please don’t be afraid to ask for help – I’ve listed some links to helpful services at the bottom of this post that will be a good place to start.
I’m struggling to make friends
Before I came to university, I had the expectation that I’d soon find some amazing friends and immediately fall into a brilliant friendship group. Now I can look back and say yes, I have made some absolutely great friends, but it didn’t happen instantly and my friendship groups have evolved over time – and that’s okay! People make friends at different speeds and in different ways. Some people are super confident approaching new people or some people may find their best friend in their flat, but this isn’t the case for everyone. Don’t worry if you don’t immediately find people you click with. The easiest way to make new friends is to put yourself out there and get involved with stuff (even if this is scary for you!). Societies in particular are a great way to meet like-minded people, and it’s never too late to join one. Your course is also an opportunity to meet lots of people. It can be as simple as smiling, introducing yourself to the person sitting next to you in a seminar and asking them how their day is going. Even if you find it awkward to strike up conversation with someone, chances are it’ll be less awkward that sitting there in silence. In first year everyone you is trying to make new friends so just be friendly and talk to people and you’ll soon meet some really good friends.
I’m finding my course really difficult
Ah yes, the reason you’re paying £9000 a year to be here. University courses are hard work and there’s no way around that. Expect a few pre-deadline meltdowns and lectures that seem like they’ll never end. But there’s a difference between the usual course related worries and really struggling. If you feel overwhelmed and over-stressed by your course, please stop and ask for help. My experience is that members of staff at uni are always happy to help and give advice. Talk to your personal advisor about how you’re feeling. Most department members have office hours where you can come in and speak to them, so pick the friendliest lecturer and go and ask for their help. If you feel the course really isn’t for you, there’s always the option of switching course. If you think you would like to switch, talk it over with your family and members of staff at uni – it might also be helpful to chat to second and third years who will have a broader experience of the course.
I’m so homesick
At uni many people are living away from home for the first time, and this can be pretty difficult. Even if you’re not the kind of person who gets homesick, just wait until something goes wrong or you get ill, and then you’ll suddenly really wish your parents were around. For a lot of people, the first few months at uni can be especially hard, but try and stick it out. A good tip is to get involved in some of the activities on offer at uni, because it gives you lots to do to take your mind off things – try to keep busy and get out of your room as much as possible. It’s natural to feel a bit unsettled and homesick at first, but once you get used to uni life and find some firm friendships things will suddenly feel a lot better. If you are still struggling with homesickness, UEA has the Student Support Service which can be really helpful.
I don’t like my flat
Living in university accommodation with other students can be a really fun experience. However, bear in mind you are essentially living with a group of people you’ve never met before and therefore don’t be surprised if you don’t become best friends with everyone in your flat. Things like messy kitchens and noisy neighbours are unfortunately to be expected in most uni halls. If you don’t feel like you get on with the people you’re living with, don’t panic. Once you’ve settled into friendships outside your flat it’ll seem less important that you’re not necessarily living with people who are going to be life long friends. If you think your flat is really awful, there is possibly the option of switching accommodation if there are spaces in other flats, so go and talk to the accommodation office about your options.
Uni life definitely has its ups and downs, and I hope this has been helpful for anyone who’s struggling a bit. The most important thing to understand is that if you’re finding uni life really difficult, there’s loads of support available so don’t be afraid to ask help!