Goodbye #Southend - hello Uni! Surviving the first term
30th August 2012
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Starting university is a time of great change and adapting to all of the demands can be challenging. New surroundings (what, Birmingham has no pier?!), new people and none of your usual support network to fall back on.


The first thing you are likely to feel is that you are the only one struggling to adjust. Everybody else is smiling, laughing and striding confidently from A to B. They all have friends and look like they understand what is going on? The truth is, they all feel like you do, it's just some are better at hiding it than others. You have made this huge commitment, and now it seems totally overwhelming and a very long way from the familiarity of home.


Your accommodation is likely to be in shared halls with people you may never have met before. Don't shut yourself in your room, don't be overshadowed, but at the same time try not to be overpowering. It's difficult to be yourself when you're trying to make a good first impression, you may try too hard, and again everyone is in the same situation. As you get to know each other each person will fall into their own 'role' naturally, with some being more outgoing than others. Your first 'roomies' may or may not become lifelong friends, the important thing is that you all respect and support each other whilst you are all settling in.


Head for the Freshers fair, around the same place as registration, (you will have been sent details amongst the mountain of bumph that has dropped through your letterbox over recent weeks). Your hall will probably organise events and generally they're a really good idea. Freshers Week is about meeting new people, enjoying what your university has to offer you, and is the first opportunity to settle in to University life. Expect wild parties, great nights out, a measure of drunken-ness and also a lot of noise! If this sounds a bit scary, nothing is compulsory, you can generally attend events without having to get any closer to the centre of the action you feel comfortable with - not everyone is a party animal!


However, Freshers Week also has a serious point to it. It is a great time for you to independently explore what your university can do for you. If this is as simple as you visiting your university department, or you visiting your library, then it’s recommended you do this so that you are comfortable with your surroundings. Remember, you are at Uni to study (whilst having fun!) Our advice is to enjoy your university experience and especially Freshers Week. There are dozens of clubs you can sign up to, and going along to them is a brilliant way to meet people who are into the same things as you. It may seem a bit daunting, but take the initiative and reach out to new people. Keeping in touch with those you left behind and having a firm date to go back to visit them is a good idea for when times might get tough. But give yourself a chance to get involved in your new life and that return trip will hopefully end up being a quick break from your busy, social Uni life.


Don’t make any major decisions in your first week. Even if you feel strongly that you don’t want to stay, take your time and talk it over with others. All Universities have Student Services, Student Unions, Counsellors and Student Welfare Officers; use all the support available to you. The first thing they will make you see is that any struggles you are having are shared by hundreds like you. It is very common to think that you should be able to manage on your own and give the appearance that all is well. Don't think of the help resources as a last resort, having a chat with them early on can save a lot of time and heartache later.


Finally, don’t expect to get everything right. You’re bound to make mistakes, forget things, get lost or be nervous. Pretty much your whole first year is all about getting it wrong, not understanding and feeling stupid. There will be plenty of time to catch up.

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