- Student Support & Wellbeing
- Campus Life
- Preparing for University
- Social Life
Hi all, I hope everyone is well and ready for the start of another new academic year! In light of beginning term tomorrow, I thought it would be good to give you some tips and encouragement if you’re feeling a little anxious or if you feel like you don’t belong here.
Moving into university is such a massive step-up for many people; one that comes with lots of excitement, but equally, lots of worry. My experience of starting university was quite different to other people’s because I was moving in during COVID times. This came with many barriers, including social restrictions and academic disadvantages. Having not fully completed sixth form and not sitting my A-levels, due to the pandemic, I felt an immediate sense of panic when I started the new year. Strangely, although I was stressed about whether I would be able to adapt into ‘university work life’ and whether I’d be able to deal with the step-up, I was most concerned about making friends and feeling a lack of belonging within the student community.
COVID took a massive chunk out of my final year of school, including what was meant to be (back then) the best summer of my life to date! The pandemic meant that social interactions were a distant memory and meeting new people was a myth. Initially, I wasn’t really affected by this… up until the weeks leading to my move-in date. I vividly remember feeling super anxious and worried that I’d lost all sense of socialising, and no longer had confidence in my ability to network and make friends with new people. Fast forward a few weeks later, and I was comfortable and happy in my university accommodation with new friends!
Some people describe the start of university as a ‘fresh start’ for them. For me, I saw it as the start of a new chapter and the need to break down the social anxiety that had built up over time during the pandemic. The first few weeks are all about putting yourself out there and finding people that give you that sense of comfort and belonging. Once you have a sense of belonging within a community, that’s the first step done.
Another thing that a lot of people struggle with at university is feeling like they’re not good enough to be on the course they’re on. This could be for several reasons, including struggling at school, going to less well-performing schools, being in stereotypical ‘smart’ courses and being surrounded by people who look and seem super intelligent. I’ve definitely experienced a few of these during my time at university. I didn’t perform particularly well at Chemistry at school and was encouraged to reconsider my decision in studying Chemistry at university, and the fact I’m now going into the final year of my Chemistry degree at university really says it all. There were times where I felt like I didn’t belong on a course that was typically for the ‘intellectuals’ or the ‘nerds’, but university really teaches you that this mindset is not only false, but toxic. Once you get through your first few weeks on your new course, you’ll realise that it really is a level playing field and everyone is in the same boat. Yes, people will come from all different backgrounds, with different financial situations and education, but ultimately, that shouldn’t define nor impact your experience. If you let those factors get in the way, it’ll be a hard mindset to get out of.
Believe in yourself and your abilities. You are your own entity – own it 😊