THOUSANDS of students across the North West are preparing to head into third level education in the coming days. And whether it’s packing up all your belongings, or feeling apprehensive about moving hundreds of miles away leaving behind all that you know, getting ready to start university can be both a daunting and an exciting experience.
I found myself in this very position last September as I was getting ready to head off to Northumbria University in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Two years ago my underwhelming leaving cert result saw me receive no offers from university, but I paid my dues and worked hard to achieve a distinction level diploma from the North West Regional College and come 2019 I was well on my way to fulfilling my uni dream.
I knew moving away would be quite daunting especially as I didn’t know anyone in Newcastle. At the time I was thriving on the idea of moving away by myself in the hope of a fresh start and the opportunity to meet people that being from a small country town would not have been offered to me before.
However 12 months on and I know things aren’t that simple. After completing a full year of uni life let me tell you don’t be fooled into believing that university is what they make it out to be in the movies or indeed what your peers would have you believe on social media. I distinctly remember my friends moving to Dublin and Belfast and I was seeping with jealousy at what they were doing, but now I realise all is not what it appeared to be.
Don’t get me wrong university is a great opportunity to expand your network but there are some struggles you may have to face.
Loneliness is one of the biggest issues that you probably weren’t warned about at school. Even as a self proclaimed introvert who enjoys nothing more than my own company, I found loneliness a real struggle. When you go three days without talking to anyone it can be quite unhealthy, almost crippling.
I’ll be honest I didn’t make the greatest effort to socialise at times. After realising that I had little to nothing in common with my room-mates
I hid away in my own shell. Opportunities to meet friends are very few and far between, freshers is meant to be the time that you get to socialise with your peer group but the fact that I didn’t know anyone denied my eagerness to interact with anyone. My hopes and expectations of what university was about were very quickly shattered.
That first two months at university were hard I’ll admit. The struggle to make friends was something luckily I had never experienced up until now and was something that was hard to get over. Regretfully I didn’t sign up for any clubs or societies and self pityingly began to wonder ‘Maybe I’m not meant for university’.
It was Halloween before I even talked to anybody in my class, but once I had broken that initial barrier things started to pick up I fell into a group of friends that I grew very close to and would now call friends for life. The second semester of the year was a lot better, I had finally found my feet and I was slowly beginning to reap what university had to offer.
Let this be a warning to those moving to university, particularly those who move alone, don’t get your hopes up – it probably won’t be as amazing as you expect and for many you may find it overrated. Some of you may take to uni like a duck to water others may struggle like I did. Also try to make the best of your short time at university put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to fail. Try new sports, join different societies get involved in as many things as you can.
If you feel like you’re homesick or everything is getting the better of you don’t worry, it will improve and you’ll be a better person for coming through the other side.
Remember to study and work hard as well as not forgetting to party and have a good time along with it.