What happens if I’m not enjoying uni?

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.

cropped-ziggarats.jpg

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!

Useful links

Student Support Service information

Counselling and mental health services

Learning Enhancement services

Union Advice Centre

Student Cookbook: Roasted veg

Welcome to my first recipe post of my ‘Student Cookbook’ series! I’m gonna be posting recipes of my own, and some from my friends, to hopefully inspire you to cook something other than beans on toast while at uni. So put down that pot noodle and dig out the vegetable peeler your mum packed for you somewhere, because it’s time to make some real food.

First up is sausages and roasted vegetables – this recipe is super simple but makes a really delicious and filling meal.

You will need:

  • a selection of veg – I went for carrots, sweet potato, parsnips and onion
  • cooking oil
  • sausages
  • gravy mix
  • mixed herbs and seasoning
  • garlic

This recipe is very flexible so you can change the ingredients depending on how hungry you are or how many people you are cooking for. I always find you need more veg than you think because it will shrink down a bit in the oven so bear that in mind.

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Add a generous splash of oil to a baking tray and put it in the oven to begin to heat up
  2. Peel and chop the veg into chunks chopped-veg
  3. Take out the baking tray from the oven and transfer the veg into it. Remember to also add the garlic.
  4. Give the tray a good shake to coat the veg in the oil, you might need to add a splash more here if you feel you haven’t got enough oil.
  5. Season the veg with mixed herbs, salt and pepper veg
  6. Put the tray into the oven. It will take approximately between 45 mins and an hour to cook. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on it, if some of the veg starts to burn around the edges just turn the oven down a bit. cooked-veg
  7. About 15-20 mins before the vegetables are done, start cooking the sausages. This can be done in a number of ways but I find it easiest to grill them
  8. Mix up some gravy – if you’re lazy like me, just get instant gravy granules where all you need to do is add hot water.
  9. When everything is cooked simply plate it up and enjoy!! meal

 

I hope you enjoy this meal if you make it! Keep an eye out for more recipes coming up on my blog soon.

Second Year

Last week was my first week of proper lectures/seminars of second year history, and it’s made me think about my expectations and hopes for this year. Second year is a pretty daunting prospect. From now on, my marks actually count towards my degree (which they didn’t during first year) and there’s the general feeling that things are more serious. I’ve heard lots of things about second year – with loads of people telling me it’s going to be really stressful and difficult, but with many people telling me it’s not as bad as everyone says. I guess I’ll just have to wait and find out!

This year I have a similar amount of contact hours as I did last year, but for my first term my timetable is quite unusual, with most of my hours on one day and then Mondays and Fridays off. Although it’s nice to essentially have a four day weekend, it’s quite a shock to the system to have a 10-6 day, when I’m used to only having a few hours a day!

This year I was able to choose my modules and I’ve gone for quite a range. My first term modules are Tudors and Stuarts, Modern Germany and Anglo Saxon Britain, so I’m covering a really large time period! Both Modern Germany and Anglo Saxon Britain were actually not my first choice, but the modules I wanted to do would have clashed on my timetable so I settled for these. If I’m being honest, I’m quite worried about these modules, because I don’t know much about either subject so at the moment I’m feeling very out of my depth. That being said, it’s quite exciting to be doing new subjects because there’s a lot of fascinating stuff to learn, but the amount to learn does seem quite overwhelming at the moment. Next term I’m doing Britain during the Wars of the Roses, Propaganda and Conspiracy and Crisis which I’m really looking forward to – my logic is if I can get through this term’s modules, next term will be much better!

This year I’ve also moved into a house rather than being in campus accommodation which has also brought a lot of change. It took a bit of getting used to but I’m really loving it. My housemates are lovely, and it’s been great to hang out in the evenings and cook together, which I didn’t get a chance to experience with my flatmates last year.

It looks like second year is going to be just as busy as first year, possibly even more busy (which slightly terrifies me!). I’ve only been back for two weeks but I feel like I’ve already done so much and have so much more to do! It’s great to be back and have lots of exciting stuff to be involved in. I’m also remembering how draining busy university life can be, so I’ve vowed to be more organised this year, although I don’t know how long that will last…