A Home Away From Home
After eighteen years of living at home with my family in Essex, it was a complete culture shock moving one hundred miles away into my first student accommodation in Brighton. Into a five bedroomed house overlooking a small portion of Brighton with four other girls who were essentially strangers. It was up a hill and the higher we drove, the more my fear grew of moving out for the first time. ‘Would I be able to cope with university?’ ‘This road is well confusing how am I ever going to find my way about?!’ ‘Am I ready?’
That first week in that house was one of the strangest weeks in my life, adjusting to this whole new way of living, sure, working out how to use the washing machine and remembering that the front door lock was a bit dodgy so you really had to jangle your keys was hard enough, but what was harder was simply settling into my new room, new house, new university and new life. Trying to remember what time the bus was that got me to university for a 9 am lecture, where that lecture actually was and how to get around. It can seem a little chaotic and you may feel a little lost which is completely understandable.
After seeing so many tweets on my timeline of people moving into their university halls and rooms, I thought it would be a perhaps helpful idea if I typed out some of the advice I picked up for settling into university life. It was one of the best time periods of my life and even I had days where I felt a bit lost and even sometimes, a little bit sad. It’s nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about, so many people around you will be going through the exact same feelings!
So, without further ado, here is my advice that I learnt four years ago for settling in at university!
Take Care of Yourself
Even positive change can feel overwhelming so it’s important, even amongst the business of freshers, lectures, welcome meetings and more, to look after and take care of yourself. Listen to what your body and mind need. Whether it’s something as simple as rest, good, healthy food or a comforting phone home. Staying in touch with yourself and what you are feeling can be all the difference to a positive outlook, which will most definitely help you with settling in.
If you’d like the reminder, I am in love with Jemma’s self-care cheat sheet over on Etsy, it’s completely adorable so will look perfect in your student accommodation and it’s affordable, so won’t make too much of a dent in your all-important student loan.
Keep Yourself Busy
If you are anything like me, a quiet mind can mean that negative thoughts can wander if I already feel myself in a negative situation. I know that there were times I would be sitting in that first bedroom, feeling completely lost and lonely, letting those negative thoughts creep in. Ultimately, the best thing to do when this happens is to keep yourself busy. Whether that is popping into the communal room for a chat, knocking next day to see what your roommate is up to and taking on as many opportunities as you can.
University offers you thousands of opportunities, especially in these first few weeks. Take a look at the societies your university offers and see if anything catches your eye, if you are into media, why not look to see if your university website/blog, paper or radio station needs an extra pair of hands? Go to Fresher Events and all your welcome meetings. There is no need to completely overdo it, but keeping yourself busy, and therefore also meeting new people and trying new things really can help with settling in comfortably.
University gives you a great deal of freedom, typically more than you would have had back home. You no longer are in school five days a week, 9-4. You most likely no longer have your parents or guardians reminding you about home and what you do and how you spend your day is up to you. But keeping your self-organised, it will help to settle you in.
For instance, in my first term, I made sure my university timetable (colour-coded, of course) was somewhere where I could clearly see it in my room, which room locations, timings and tutors. This helped massively with simply reminding me of when are where I was meant to be in university. After having such a ‘normal’ school routine for years, you’d be surprised at how easy you can forget that your lectures do not start until lunchtime on Wednesday. I also set myself reminders to go off when I needed to be out the door to catch the bus, etc.
The same goes for work. The first few weeks of university may all seem like fun and games (with a good ol’ dollop of Freshers’ Flu) but, I can guarantee that lectures will start setting pieces of work, even if they are really ‘basic’. You want to make a good impression (whilst it’s not like school, a good impression goes a long way with your tutors) so make sure you set yourself time to dedicate to that task and not leave it the last minute every time. By having it done and sorted, you’ll give yourself less stress too, which of course helps with settling in comfortably.
Don’t give yourself too hard of a time!
If you find yourself really struggling to settle in (completely understandable!), do not beat yourself up about it too much. This definitely adds stress which is never helpful and can run into problems in other areas; such as university itself.
The best thing to do in this situation is to reach out, your university will have some sort of Student Services where you can talk to people who are going to completely understand what you are going and who are there to help you. Getting your worries off your chest is always a good idea and there will always be someone to lend you an ear. (For the record, I am more than happy for anyone to message me if they ever need someone to talk to!).
Try and find somewhere you feel comfortable or something you enjoy. Maybe this is your local coffee shop, the town centre, the library… anywhere, anywhere you can go and just enjoy yourself. I remember in my first year I actually spent so much time in the shopping centre just wandering around (student budget didn’t allow for many Topshop sprees!). I’m not even sure why but it was the one place I felt confident I knew well enough to wander around freely, I knew how to get there and back and it just seemed like the central hub. By spending time here, I got to know the area even better and it all started to feel ‘familiar’ in time, which really, really helped Brighton to feel more like home.
I wish you the very best of luck if you are at university, especially if you are just starting and I really do hope you are settling in nicely!
If you have any more advice in regards to these first few weeks at university, please do comment them down below!
Thank you for reading!