The past two years of hard slog have paid off, and you’ve finally moved in to your new student digs. You’ve conquered the stainless steel of the UEA kitchen, broken the awkward silence in the flat corridor, survived your first lecture, and somehow discovered the whereabouts of the CD Annex, all in the space of seven days.
The chant at the end of last night’s LCR event was right: UEA is wonderful, but that’s not to say that the first week is wonderful for everyone.
First year students arrive at university with a wide array of expectations, and naturally there are students who feel disillusioned by their first encounter with university life. The anticipation of the first week of university can often outweigh the reality of week one, and, although it’s not often admitted by students, it’s far from unusual to feel unsettled.
Homesickness and loneliness can strike any new student, regardless of experience and age, and it’s important to speak up and tackle such feelings when they arise.
The Union Advice Centre has many tips for first year students. Firstly, don’t hide in your room. It may sound obvious, but doing simple things like cooking your meals at times when your kitchen is busy will ensure that you interact with your flatmates and start to forge relationships.
Make suggestions to your flat about going out as a group, be it a night on the tiles or a daytime visit to Norwich city centre. Also, whilst it can be tempting to visit home when you’re feeling low, do try and hold it off for a few weeks. Adjusting to independent life can take time, and it doesn’t take long for the vast majority of students to adapt to their new surroundings.
The most important thing struggling students need to remember is to speak to somebody about their feelings. Be it a parent, a peer or an adviser, sharing your thoughts with someone is often the best way to rationalise them.
Settling into university can certainly be hard, but it isn’t impossible. For more help and guidance, visit the Union Advice Centre.
Photo: Elizabeth Margereson.