Fresh Out of Fresher Year
Noon-time naps, drinking on a Wednesday, and dressing primarily in bedtime chic. These behaviours would have been frowned upon a month ago. But now, as another academic year kicks off, they’re deemed perfectly acceptable.
Welcome to life as a student and for those of you who have endured your first year already, welcome back.
You’re now being thrown into a weird limbo period of your life where society views you as the adult you may feel you have not yet become. It’s a strange experience that comes with a whole lot of learning, not just in lecture halls.
Some lessons have to be learned the hard way through your own experiences. Other lessons can be learned through the experiences of others.
With all of this in mind I decided to get chatting to a few of my fellow second years and they shared some wise words with me that might help to make university life a bit easier to navigate.
Here are the top three tips I took away from our conversations:
1. STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE SOCIALLY.
Although you are constantly surrounded by people, it’s more common than you’d think for students to feel overcome with loneliness. It’s almost more unsettling to have so many people around you and feel lonely than to physically be alone.
Student loneliness can often stem from friendships being solely established in party settings. With a culture that surrounds drinking, it often becomes the go-to social activity. This can lead to an abundance of surface level relationships rather than intimate ones. It’s going to be really important to try to build friendships that go beyond just drinking and going out.
Business major, Sabrina Juan, recommends students should step out of their social comfort zone in order to combat this loneliness.
“Ask someone you’ve been talking to in your class to lunch or something similar to get to know them better outside the classroom setting,” she suggests.
Try going to lunch, grab a coffee, watch a movie. By doing so, you get to know people in their sober state and create memories that you’ll fully recall the next day.
2. YOUR WELL-BEING IS IMPORTANT
Another student, Sophie Thompson,
mentions how valuable it is to set time aside for your well-being.
“I think it’s important to keep up with the activities you like, which for me is my dance, going to the gym and hanging with friends and family. It always seems impossible to do all this when uni actually starts because of the workload, but I think it’s really important for everyone to ensure they are keeping up healthy well-being.
Take time to check in on yourself and do the things you enjoy. Doing so relieves some of the stress you will inevitably face. Take a yoga class, go for a walk, do some cooking, listen to a podcast – whatever works for you. Discover what helps you to wind down and put time aside to do whatever that may be. Yes, it’s cliché advice that sneaks into almost every self-care article on the internet, but that’s because it works.
3. UNIVERSITY MAY NOT MEET YOUR EXPECTATIONS…AND THAT’S OKAY.
“Enjoy university, it’s the best years of your life!”
I’m sure over the festive season you would have heard a variation of these words, maybe uttered by an older relative or friend. In a sense, they’re right, university can be exciting and amazing, but it can also be hard. Really hard. The expectation for you to be having an amazing time, all of the time, is unrealistic. It makes having even one tough week, seem like a failure.
Courtney McPhee, a second-year communications student, recommends cutting yourself some slack.
“Try and relax a bit more throughout the year, as your mental and physical health is the most important thing overall, despite the stress and pressure which first-year brings forward.”
In terms of myself, I made the mistake in my first year of burning the candle at both ends, which ends up being the quickest way to burn out. I tried way too hard to have it all. The good grades, the crazy social life, the perfect university experience. Eventually, I crashed.
Living up to the expectation of having the best time of my life was unattainable. I think it’s important to remember that sometimes it’s okay to not meet those expectations. Sometimes you’ll have days that just don’t live up to the “best years of your life” narrative. That is absolutely okay.
In saying that, other days may even exceed your expectations and that’s also important to remember. You’ll be faced with opportunities to meet incredible people, achieve your goals and grow as a person.
Take the opportunities that come with being at university and run with them. Because let’s be honest, it’s not often in your life you can get away with noon-time naps, drinking on Wednesdays and dressing primarily in bedtime chic. You’re a student now, so make the most of it.