For some people, university can be the loneliest place in the world.
For some people, university can be the loneliest place in the world. I mean, you’re sat in a room surrounded by strangers in a town you don’t know and some people find it hard going out and mixing with new people.
Sometimes it’s hard to break that monotonous cycle of sitting in your room studying, then going to lectures, then going to the library etc.
Yet getting stuck in that lifestyle can lead to unhappiness and often people leave university without giving it much of a chance. I always felt so healthy when I was at home, but the minute I stepped foot back on campus, I become the latest attraction for all the bugs, illnesses and the miserable clouds hanging about.
I tried to think about what I did differently at home to what I do whilst I’m at university. Ah yes, the drinking, the terrible eating habits, the sleep deprivation, the stress of work and not to mention the ever-present pressure to make friends, and be fun and kind, all whilst remaining sane and ‘I had 3 hours sleep but who cares, party on’ bravado.
My first year at university was hard, but here are some tips to boost your happiness and keep your mind at peace with your body!
Keep in contact with your family but try and avoid going home regularly.
I struggled in my first year at university because my university is not at all close to my hometown and I missed my friends and my family (secretly just my dogs) a lot. I found it hard dealing with this huge space between myself and them, but I knew that if I went home every other weekend, I would never settle in.
Of course, sometimes it can’t be helped if you have events and priorities back home. But I know some students who would jump on a train back home every weekend, and eventually ended up leaving university after only 3 months because they couldn’t settle.
You need to give it a chance! Instead of sitting on Skype to your dogs (guilty), you could see if any of your flatmates want to go for a drink or play a board game (inexpensive, but competitive, be careful!) You could watch a film or even just find out some good ol’ gossip about your uni friends to take your mind off home.
Set realistic goals socially.
University is notorious for its binge-drinking, all-night-partying-with-strangers culture and don’t get me wrong, the opportunity is there to do all that crazy fun stuff, but don’t feel pressured in to doing all of that.
Every day is an opportunity to meet new people so don’t stress if you haven’t made lots of new friends on crazy nights out. Also don’t feel stressed if that’s not your thing, there are plenty of ways to meet people that you ‘fit in’ with.
Realistically, you aren’t going to get along with everyone but if you think ‘I will try and chat with one person off my course/a club today and that will be great’ don’t feel stupid. Having one friendly face is better than having none!
Set realistic goals academically.
Don’t stress if you promised yourself that you’d be in bed by 11pm with all your work completed and organised. More often than not, it won’t happen; life gets in the way and that’s just fine.
People say ‘oh first year doesn’t count anyway’ but regardless of what people say, it’s down to the individual and if working hard is important to you, then set REALISTIC goals for yourself.
Break your work up, don’t try to do it all at once. Give yourself a 40 minute working frame, then a 15 minute break (chocolate/sweets/treats/whatever you fancy are vital here).
Have an outlet.
I cannot stress this enough. Find a society, a club, a bar, anything which you enjoy because it will make returning back to university after holidays a lot easier. If you enjoy being creative, find a club which channels this creativity so not only are you exerting energy creatively, but you give yourself something to look forward.
Eat well, sleep well and exercise.
It’s SO important at university to eat well because when you don’t eat well, you don’t sleep well and if you don’t sleep well, you end up feeling like absolute rubbish. Not only that but a poor diet and a lack of sleep really can affect your performance academically and socially.
I know that—when I’m hungry I get ‘hangry’ and take it out on the people around me. Don’t be that guy! There are hundreds of quick and healthy recipes online for you to choose from so have a browse and see what you fancy!
Often markets are cheaper for fruit and veg so if you live near a market it’s definitely worth checking it out if you’re tight on cash. Also, food containers are beautiful moulded pieces of plastic that can keep food good for an extra few days. So if you can’t be bothered to cook every night, make a batch and save some so it’s quick and easy next meal time.
On the exercise front I know for some people exercising is a chore, but if you really can’t face going to the gym or joining a club, grab a flatmate, a course friend or go alone for a stroll; you can appreciate the town you now live in whilst getting your blood pumping.
If treating yourself means coming in from lectures, getting in bed and watching Netflix religiously, then so be it. I got through 4 box-sets whilst I was at university because that’s how I treated myself.
Luckily, one of my flatmates liked the same programmes as me so we watched them together which was even better because we had something to look forward to and I wasn’t sitting in my room alone.
If you like time and space to yourself, this is a great escape, if not, ask a flatmate if they want to start a new series with you. There are plenty of tv programmes online, even if it’s really old, you might both enjoy it and it gives you something to talk about.
University is a fun and exciting time to find out more about yourself as well as meeting people from all over the world. Finding a balance is hard within the first few weeks but after a while it starts to feel more like home and you can choose to stick to a routine or just go with the flow.
That’s what’s great about uni, there isn’t really a set structure to your lifestyle, apart from studying. You’re free to do what you want with your time so as long as you make it count for you, then who cares what everybody else is doing!
What do you think? What advice would you add? Have your say in the comments section below.[Image: www.audio-luci-store-it – Flickr]