Hello my beauties! If you are still here with me after that crazy hiatus then I thank you kindly and if you are new then welcome to my blog. Anyone who follows me on twitter will know that I recently started studying at the University Of Chester and, just like any new uni student, I did freshers week.
Another thing you may know about me is that my mental health journey has not been a smooth one. From depression to insomnia; from emetophobia to anxiety disorder. Safe to say I was dreading university and in particular freshers week. So, for those of you about to embark upon a similar adventure, or just need to know you’re not the only one, here are some tips, tricks and things to remember when starting uni as an anxious bean.
Familiarise Yourself With The Campus, City and People
That all sounds like a lot for someone with anxiety doesn’t it?
On the first day I was there I really got to know my flatmates even though it was a little awkward, on the second day we all went out shopping together and on the third day we were all drinking cocktails in wetherspoons. I was very homesick at first but I believe it came down to a few basic elements, most of which were fixable.
- You probably know every street, shop, bus and pub like the back of your hand back home. It takes a little bit of time to build that up here but it will happen.
- You probably miss your family. That comes with distraction and the realisation that you can still contact them easily. (The less upset you are the easier it is to talk on the phone).
- You’re living with new people you don’t even know yet. Take the time to get to know them. If you go to make some food and they’re in the kitchen, don’t come back later, cook together. If you have a common area then read or do your work down there sometimes so you can see them and go to all the fairs together.
I’m writing this two weeks into uni. One week ago I was yet to even go out of my room past ten, now I feel confident in where I am going and what I like to do.
Meet People Online Before You Start
When I got accepted to Chester one of the first things I did was hop onto facebook and type in something along the lines of ‘Chester Freshers 2019’ into the search bar. From that point on I asked around for people on my course, got added into a group chat and organised a meetup before we had even started (which I took my boyfriend to; baby steps). On my first night at uni I was at a little meetup in one of my classmates houses and I made some amazing friends, because of this chat I never felt completely alone.
Know That There’s A Difference Between Your Comfort Zone And Your Anxiety Limits
If you read articles about joining uni a lot of them will talk about pushing yourself out of your ‘comfort zone’ in order to make it at uni. As someone with anxiety I know my first thought was that I can’t do that so I won’t have a good time and it’s just not true.
I was lucky enough to trust my own instincts when it came to starting uni. So I thought I’d share with you a few ‘deep ends’ that you really do not have to throw yourself into:
Going To Freshers Events
Unfortunately one of the downsides of going on these facebook groups is that they’ll convince you that you need to buy a freshers wristband. This is a wristband that grants you access to most of the clubs in the area for the week including exclusive access to a couple of special events (Dappy and Aitch for my particular year).
I did not buy one of these because I knew I would not be going out often enough to make it worth it and I could just pay entry if I ever felt like it. I went out twice during freshers week and I did not feel like I missed out by not going. You will not make friends at these things. In fact, I refused to go until I had made friends so I had people to go with.
If you enjoy clubbing then by all means go. If you don’t, then you’re not missing out by staying home.
Avoiding Your Room Like The Plague
Everyone will tell you that you need to grant other people access to your life 100% of the time or you won’t make friends and that you should never lock yourself in your room.
Here’s the thing: get to know the people around you. When you move in you should chat to your flatmates and get to know them. But if you’ve just moved and your parents are gone and you’re tired and it is all too much then getting to know your bedroom isn’t the worst thing you can do.
During freshers week you probably will have ‘introduction sessions’ for your subject which usually involves meeting with the whole year of people taking your course (could be hundreds, could be twelve) and doing pointless exercises to get to know each other. Don’t want to bond over alcohol? Try bonding over a picture of a medieval spoon!
The point is that it is almost impossible to finish freshers week without having met anyone so relax a little.
Make This The Best Week Of Your Life And Make Friends For Life!
Leaving home and getting drunk with a bunch of strangers isn’t anyone’s best week, hunny. So some make it seem more fun than others but there will definitely be better weeks to come.
You haven’t even started societies yet! Most people from uni say their best friends were those that they met in societies, not during freshers week so stop worrying so much! Putting pressure on yourself to be having a great time when you’re not only makes it that much harder so chill out and just see what the week brings!
Say Yes To Everything (Within Reason)
Before I say this I would like to point out that only you know your limits and you should only say yes to what you think you can handle. However, the questions you get asked isn’t always what you think.
When I first read ‘say yes to everything’ I was assuming I’d be constantly barraged with invitations to go out drinking more than I could stomach or afford and end up unhappy and stressed. What I ended up saying yes to was a couple of invitations to have lunch at someone’s flat between lectures, a trip to tesco or the occasional walk down to the canal.
It was at these things that I learned more about the people that I was spending time with and got to know them better. The more you realise you have things in common with people, the easier it gets.
Some People Start In The Deep End, But Most Start In The Shallows
My final point is that the things that seem scary to you on the Monday might seem okay by the Thursday. I didn’t leave my flat at all until Tuesday and by Thursday I was out until three with friends. What changed?
I got used to things little by little. The more I spent time with people the more I felt I could trust them and the easier it was to push my boundaries a little. If I had gone out on the first night I never would have gone out again but by the fifth I was feeling much more confident and I really don’t know where I will go from here but I know it will be bigger and better.
So the most important thing for you guys to remember is that I was probably feeling exactly as you are before all of this. I was sick from anxiety the night before I left home and now I’m sat on my bed, drinking tea and telling you all how much fun I had!
I’d love to hear about all your uni success stories down in the comments!