While the expectation of Freshers' is often high, for many new students the intense changes that come with moving away from home and family, and having to fend for yourself for the first time, bring the experience crashing down around them. While I have suffered from mild anxiety for some time, the intensity of my reaction to my new life threw me for a loop. Freshers' anxiety and homesickness are real problems that affect so many people just starting university, and they often hit you out of nowhere – no one warns you that you will feel uncomfortable and out of place at first during the "best years of your life" pep talk. So here are three tips to keep in mind if all you can think about is how much you want to stroke your pet, or if you just can't stop worrying about making friends.
Freshers' Week isn’t where the buck stops on new friendships
Freshers' Week is everything, right? You feel like you have to do every activity, go out every night, and make your lifelong friends in those seven days. But the reality is that very few people can hack that. If you know you are someone who can’t handle drinking every night in a row, don’t beat yourself up for having a night in, or even just coming home early one night. So many people will feel the same way – and really, if you know that the party life isn’t for you, it’s no use making yourself miserable trying to go out every night with those who do, because it could be they just aren’t the people for you! The beauty of university is that you are pretty much guaranteed to find a group of people who are the right fit for you – you just have to give it time, because despite the panic you feel about it, Freshers' Week isn’t where the buck stops on new friendships.
Don't bottle it up!
This one seems obvious, but you will likely be trying to hide all of your anxieties from the people around you. Well, stop it! Almost all the people you will meet will feel the same way. Not always to the same extent as you - maybe sometimes more than you - but you need to know you are not alone. You also shouldn’t feel bad about talking to people from home about it. I had such guilt about how anxious I was after coming to Glasgow – I had worked so hard to get here that I felt like I was letting everyone down. In reality, everything I was feeling was normal! I did register for counselling with the University, and while they are very helpful, you have to be aware of the waiting times, especially with something like anxiety and homesickness, as there will of course be people in more trouble than you that will be rushed up the waiting list. So if you think you could benefit from their help, by all means sign up, just don’t place all your expectations on them. There is always someone to turn to: Nightline is an independent service supported by the SRC, with a support line open from 7pm to 7am every night during term time. Nightline is there whether you need to have a good rant, cry, or just need to find out where tomorrow’s lecture hall is. You can call on 0141 334 9516 or visit gunightline.org for instant messaging. If you are really struggling with anxiety or depression, you should call Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87, which is free and will not show up on phone bills.
Be careful not to isolate yourself
Although it's more than okay for you to want to have a night in or not spend every night of Freshers' Week in HIVE, you have to be careful not to isolate yourself. I know that putting yourself out there and trying to make friends constantly can be exhausting, but if you get to the end of Freshers' without spending any time with other people, you’re only going to make matters worse. You have to have the courage to push yourself out of your comfort zone and experience the new things that Freshers' is all about. The Politics Society subcrawl seemed so daunting at first, but ended up being one of my best nights out, and I have done it again since because it was so much fun. Find something you have a passion for and dive right in, because everything is daunting, but it's better to take the plunge when everyone else is nervous and new too.
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