Ah, the joys of starting university! Always room for surprise, even when you think you’ve got it all sussed out beforehand.
I can’t list everything that’ll happen. Nobody can do that.
But here’s a start.
Now you’re a fresher, here’s a list of 10 things to expect. Time to get relationships (with others and with yourself) in check.
In no particular order:
1. First friends aren’t always your best friends.
The pressure to impress is huge. When you find new people, you may form a lasting friendship.
But don’t be too cut up if it doesn’t work out. New people come into your life all the time at university and you’ll get to know all sorts of characters. Some will turn out to be friends for many years to come. Just not necessarily the people you meet in Fresher’s Week.
2. Everyone is coping except you? Don’t believe it!
No matter how out of place and clueless you feel, there are other students just as overwhelmed as you.
It’s easy to think you’re the only person with issues, because you only know your own mind. Starting out at university is not a walk in the park and there’s so much to get to grips with. But remember the first point…people want to look impressive. Not everyone is being totally honest about their difficulties.
If you think you’re the only person who’s not coping well, you’ll feel even worse about it. All those teething troubles are standard.
3. Homesick is standard.
You don’t think you’ll get over it, but you’re likely to have shaken off the sadness within a few weeks. For some, it takes until after Christmas to settle down. It is rare for the problem to be so bad that you have to leave.
For tips on combating those blues, check out my Help for the Hopelessly Homesick.
4. Give new activities a go, so long as you don’t go against your personal opinions/likes/beliefs.
If you don’t drink alcohol, a Fresher pub crawl won’t be your activity of choice. But what if you want to get involved and be a part of the fun with your new housemates?
No problem with joining in. Just don’t feel the need to defend yourself. Peer pressure goes away quicker when you don’t get involved in other people’s fake debates. And the start of a pub crawl (or halfway through it) is a bad time anyway. Bat conversation away and say you’ll explain another day. If someone is too persistent, it may be best to cut your losses and safely remove yourself from their presence.
Stay confident in your identity. As you settle in over the coming weeks, you’ll find situations to suit your lifestyle. The people you get to know here will at least accept who you are, and may even share your core values.
Oh, and if you just want to limit the booze, here are some tips to tame the spirits.
5. You are yourself.
You can’t work out how to make other people like you, because there’s no way for you to befriend yourself. Besides, you don’t need to fake it at university. There are an almost limitless number of choices, options, opinions, likes and dislikes to explore. As with the point above, find the people who will accept and love you for who you are.
6. Everyone pulled except you? Exaggeration only upsets you more.
Everyone did it except me…
So and so ALWAYS happens…
You don’t need to follow the crowd or succomb to peer pressure, as hard as it feels to go against the grain. And I can assure you that not EVERYONE pulls during fresher’s, even though it can seem a bit in your face at times.
7. What do you want to be known for? Be careful.
Do you want to make a big impact on campus from Day One? Getting exposure is great, but you don’t need to do it straight away. Playing the long game is safer than trying to be a hero before you’ve worked out the lay of the land.
Known to be known, no matter what…Is that enough?
8. “If I think the worst, then things can’t get any worse. They’ll only get better.” NOT TRUE!
With this attitude, you’ll only ever think the worst. No matter how good it gets, you’re fixed on the worst outcome, which blinds you to what’s happening.
Prepare for the worst, but don’t think it. Preparation is different to expectation.
9. You’ll work out most things sooner than you think.
The impossible struggle only feels impossible while you’re struggling. Beyond that, it gets better.
It practically always gets better. In all my dealings with freshers over the years, most start with issues that feel insurmountable and nearly every one recovers without fuss. Of the few who find it more difficult, most of them still manage to get over that hurdle.
And if you think your case is different, just remember Point 2. You’re much closer to the side of hope and recovery and success than you think.
10. SU activities are great, but don’t dismiss them if one doesn’t work out.
I made this mistake. I signed up for clubs at the Freshers Fayre, went to my first meeting for one of the clubs, found it disappointing, and decided clubs and societies weren’t much good.
I hardly bothered for a while after that. Yeah…well done me. Sigh.
I’m one of the first people to tell you to look beyond first impressions. Dig deeper, even if your opinion stays the same.
I didn’t follow my own advice here and suffered a little for it. Don’t be quick to dismiss!
There’s a lot to think about settling in as a fresher.
And as soon as you’ve calmed down with these lifestyle issues, then comes all the studying!
If you’re worried about the academic work for the year ahead, I’ve got a great freebie for you…
Get the upper hand and learn to appreciate what’s expected of you and how to prepare for it. Download my ebook ‘Live Life, Study Hard‘ right now.