First year is hard. There’s no denying that. From the new workload, to the being away from home, to doing your own laundry for the first time. The one important thing you can take away from this is everyone is in the same boat, as cliché as it sounds. Everyone is equally as nervous as the next person, but some people are just better at hiding it than others. I think it’s easy to forget how big of a deal moving away from your family home is, especially when it’s the first time in your life. From my experience, I craved proper independence away from feeling trapped in a small rural village. I chose to go to the University of Leeds to escape all of this, as many students do. And to be honest, I was scared. Being from a small city like Leicester, it was quite daunting to move to a city as big as Leeds is. Also considering the emotional rollercoaster the moving period is, you honestly just don’t know what to expect.
The main advice I can give to a fresher moving out is:
1. Be prepared to feel slightly homesick, at least for the first couple of weeks. Of course, everybody is different and you might not feel homesick at all! But, there’ll at least be one night where you miss your home comforts that little bit more. In my flat, it almost seemed like a competition of who was missing home the least. Don’t feel ashamed to miss home, it’s completely normal. Call home at least fortnightly; it does help, honest.
2. Don’t expect your flatmates to immediately be your best friends. Some people instantly click with their flatmates and decide they want to do everything with them. Others don’t, and that’s okay too. In my experience, I didn’t click with mine straightaway but we got closer over time. Friends I have at other universities barely saw their flatmates and would just bump into them in the kitchen, it’s unique for everyone. I would encourage to at least make the effort to talk to them when you do see them. Your flatmates are normally the first people you’ll meet and go out with, which follows on to my next point…
3. Please put yourself out there! I literally cannot stress this enough; the university experience all depends on the effort you put into it. Even if you’re not the most sociable person, it will honestly help if you take that bit of time to chat to your flatmates or go to that course meet up. You’re better off trying these things out than regretting not going later on.
4. It’s okay to need some extra help. My first year helped me discover that I had a form of social anxiety and helped me set my boundaries of what I wanted and didn’t want to do. You hear this everywhere, but do not be afraid to make use of the university’s mental health services or having a talk with your personal tutor- I personally reached out to the university’s own short-term counselling and wellbeing service. Do not underestimate how hard university is during an unpredictable pandemic.
5. Don’t be a dick. You’ve probably seen all the videos on TikTok about every student’s experience of having the one messy flatmate leaving dirty plates in the sink for a week, or the one really noisy flatmate who plays their guitar until 3AM. Don’t be that person. I think some people get too carried away with their first taste of freedom and forget how thin the walls in halls really are.
6. And finally… The most important piece of advice I think any student would give you is to just be yourself, and try to make the most of it. After all, it does fly by.