Settling into university
September can be a stressful time for a lot of people. It is a month of firsts and new beginnings, which can be equal parts exciting and terrifying.
For some people, the idea of starting university is really fun, full of new opportunities and new people.
However, for others, it can really daunting. All of the things that are supposed to make it a positive experience, i.e. meeting new people, gaining independence, and taking your studies to the next level, can be terrifying for some people.
Having been one of the terrified freshers in the past, I can offer some advice on how to make this time easier.
Keep a positive mind-set
The mind is a powerful thing, and I can guarantee that if you keep telling yourself you are miserable, you are going to be miserable. This is a trap I definitely fell into at the beginning of uni.
I would start each day thinking the worst, telling myself that I wasn’t going to have fun and, guess what, I usually didn’t.
It was only when I started to be more positive that I actually allowed myself to have fun.
Get a routine going
This is a very unstable time in your life when everything is constantly changing, so a bit of stability can go a long way. I found that setting up a simple routine every morning really helped to satisfy this desire for stability.
This routine by no means has to be complicated. You don’t have to get up super early to cook a gourmet breakfast. It can be as small as having a set time when you wake up, having a show that you always watch while you eat your breakfast, or always grabbing a coffee on your way to uni.
Having these things as constants in your days helps to create a sense of structure, which can be crucial in such a chaotic time.
Don’t feel guilty about taking time for yourself
If you are not typically a social person, the start of uni can be very overwhelming as you’re socialising 24/7. This can be exhausting, especially if you’re more introverted, so it’s okay if you need to take time for yourself.
My favourite way to take time for myself when I was at uni was to wait until a night where everyone was out of the house, then I'd bake a cake while watching my favourite movie.
Not only is this a really enjoyable way of spending your alone time, but your flatmates will love you for providing freshly baked goods the next morning.
Keep your door open
On the flip side, although it may be scary, it is really important to make a conscious effort to be social. It can feel quite alien, spending all your time with people you don’t know and wading through hours of small talk, but it is only through doing this that you can build genuine friendships.
One of the things that I found helped to create the illusion that I was sociable, even when I didn’t feel like it, was keeping my door open.
An open door creates a welcoming vibe and allows for even small interactions every day that can help to build the foundation for real friendships.
Even if you do all of these things, there may still be moments when you are overwhelmed and feeling low. It is easy to feel helpless, but this is when I look to God.
It is in him that I find my stability and my hope, because when we are weak, God is strong.
When we are at our lowest, and we feel like there is nowhere to turn, God is always there, welcoming us with open arms.
My help comes from the Lord.
‘I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth…the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.’ Psalm 121:1-8 in the Bible.