JLife asks the experts how to make the most of your first few months at university, from tackling homesickness, getting into good study habits early, and combating anxiety.
Sophie Phillipson is the founder of student and graduate support network HelloGrads, set up to ease the transition into life beyond university. Co-founded with Sophie’s mother, Julie, HelloGrads aims to help students stay positive, have fun and enhance your prospects for a bright future.
It can come as a shock to learn that it’s entirely possible to feel lonely and homesick, even when surrounded by so many people your own age. Anticipate this might happen, and it might not hit you so hard. Feeling settled will happen with time.
If you are feeling low, avoid drinking alcohol which can make you feel worse, and access your university’s support services. They all have them, and you’ll find the details on their website. If you try confiding in other students, you’ll realise you aren’t alone in feeling like this – lots of people find change unsettling.
Rather than fleeing home when you’re feeling homesick, try to get friends and family to come and visit you. University is one of the best places to pursue a hobby alongside your degree, so sign up for a club, society, or team and you’ll find new friends who share your passion.
Ash Luchmun is the audience and content manager at InterActive Pro, an online management service that partners with business schools and universities, including The University of Law and The University of Wolverhampton and Barnsley College, to provide access to e-learning.
There is sure to be plenty of advice being thrown around from family and friends, regarding the best ways to make the most of the first few months at university. University allows you to develop and educate yourself in many different ways. It is an exciting and good start for anyone that seeks to gain knowledge and expertise in how to master certain subjects and areas.
It is a time of many changes that will help set you up for university life, and life in general. Let’s group some advice and tips into three categories:
Understanding is key. The more you seek to understand the various areas of knowledge needed for your studies, the more confident and capable you will become.
Manage your time well. Studying is important but so are other areas you will need to manage in order to be productive and efficient. Understand how you can make the most of your time around your work, by breaking tasks into manageable chunks.
Set goals for yourself. Think of some academic standards you’d like to set and achieve in the first term of your studies. There is a reason why you are at university, so strive to learn and work as hard as you can. Take care of yourself and be sure to make time to sleep and eat well and keep in touch with those close to you.
The network is there, so get to know the wide range of different people that will be present in your university. You will have access to many people, including faculty, other staff and students so be sure to reach out to anyone you need for advice and guidance at any time.
Address issues when they arise. If you are feeling overwhelmed, unsure or need to speak to someone, there are many people on hand that will be more than happy to help guide you through your concerns.
When Anxiety Strikes…
While for many, the prospect of going off to university is full of excitement and promise, for others, the thought of leaving home, moving to a new city and having to meet new people, can lead to feelings of nervousness, apprehension, and anxiety.
Anxiety symptoms vary from person to person, but in general, the body reacts in a very specific way. When you feel anxious, your body goes on high alert, looking for possible danger and activating your fight or flight responses. As a result, some common symptoms of anxiety include feelings of restlessness, tension and hyperventilation.
Though anxiety can leave you feeling isolated, it is important to remember that you are not the only one who feels that way, and there are a number of things you can try to bring down your freshers fretting levels.
- TALK TO SOMEBODY. Whether it’s to a parent or guardian, friend, or member of the university support staff, share the way you are feeling with somebody you trust
- TAKE EACH DAY AS IT COMES. Thinking too far in advance can quickly amplify your worries. View each day as a small step on your journey and try not to overthink.
- EAT HEALTHILY AND STAY WELL. Late nights and shallow pockets are a feature of student life, and can often lead to junk food diets and constant colds. But good physical health and good mental health go hand in hand – an early night and some fruit and veg every now and then can go a long way!
- STAY ACTIVE. Students are considered by many to be sedentary beings, but that needn’t be the case! Whether it’s going out running or cycling, or joining a university sports society, exercising can effectively help to reduce the symptoms of anxiety.
- TRY A TRADITIONAL HERBAL REMEDY. A simple, cost effective option to relieve the symptoms of mild anxiety is now available, with quality lavender oil in a one-a-day capsule. Kalms Lavender (RRP £6.99) aims to provides an effective, herbal option to relieve anxiety.