I was no smooth fresher. Now, as a (still-not-that-smooth) final year student, I’ve got a few tips up my sleeve that would have come in handy a couple of years ago.
You don’t have to be a certain person
When I started university, I made a vow: I was going to be cool. Goodbye awkward secondary-school-me, hello cool-and-collected-me. But after one (particularly) mortifying night mid fresher’s week, my resolution started to look a little shabby.
I was devastated; I felt I had botched my opportunity; told myself that those niggling suspicions – that I was too chaotic, too tightly strung, too ridiculous for university – had been right. I was actually – shock, horror, who could have called it?! – 100 per cent wrong.
The flat mates of whose judgement I was terrified? Two of them would become not only chaotic confidants, but also close friends. I wish I had known that you don’t have to be “the collected one” or “the elegant one” or the “party one”. Ridiculous and cool, messy and calm: you can be all the you-s you need to be.
It’s okay to say “no”
It’s the oldest rule in the book. Rushing into to university life determined to say “yes” to everything can mean that by week two, you will hit saturation point.
I wish I had known that making time to breathe in – and out – is crucial. If you can’t quite hack another night out, another society taster, or even another polite kitchen-small-talk session: then have some you time.
Book, box set, blanket, recharge: spreading yourself too thin can get exhausting – and giving in to our humanness for a while can be a wonderful thing.
Don’t panic if things feel a little off
The “university-you” is a new version of yourself, who you haven’t yet met. They might laugh at different things to the you of six months ago; might have decided they want to lop their hair off, or to stop eating meat.
So, if you feel a little off when you visit home for the first few times: don’t panic! University is transition period, and you don’t need to worry if those things that felt so comfortable and every day suddenly seem distant and strange.
Feeling out of kilter is not the sign of some permanent shift – it’s just a symptom of change, and it will settle back down again. Give yourself, and the things you love, some time.
Main photo: Bristol SU
Read more: Mental health