Moving out from home is hard, no matter what your situation. Throughout my school years, I was fairly independent and confident anyway. I helped around the house, enjoyed cooking and all the other household jobs, so for me, the fact I had to do my own washing, cook all my meals, keep my new place clean and tidy didn’t really phase me. I actually enjoyed doing the food shop and cooking whatever I fancied. However, not spending everyday with my family? Making new friends and learning more about relationships? That was hard! I missed my Mum and home comforts and sometimes I just wanted to be on my own to cry/sleep/chat to home/watch cosy films and relax.
I think it is important that as well as socializing, studying, exploring and all the other new opportunities, you need to take time to yourself to really make the most of the student experience. That way you can think about what is happening and not lose yourself in a whirlwind of activity! Admit to yourself that it is hard! And it will be for the first few months, maybe even the year for whatever reason. Everyone has other stuff going on in their life at the time as well as this new, exciting experience. For me it was subject choice and questioning if university was the right path at all, for my friends it was other things. I think it is easy to forget that it is okay to want to be alone, to want to change plans and go home, to take the day off your new job because you’re ill, but really just exhausted with all the home sickness! Instead, have a day with your family, Skype the people you love, watch a rom com, have a pamper session, eat a whole tub of triple chocolate ice cream. *Yes, I did eat a whole tub thinking the calorie count was a quarter of what it was. Oops.* All of these things can be equally as enjoyable as going out with your friends or going to the cinema. It is easy to feel like you’re missing out but a couple of missed events aren’t going to leave you lost and out of the friend group, don’t worry!
If you do feel lonely or like you just don’t want to be partaking in anything the people you’ve met are doing, talk to someone. Be it a friend or family member, someone new you’ve met that you feel like might understand the situation, or someone at the university. There are always people who will listen and give advice. Don’t struggle alone, that’s not fair on yourself. Sometimes it just takes ranting about what’s on your mind, or for me writing it all down, and you feel clearer and better and able to just move on from it and figure out what’s to happen next. It’s a learning experience. It still is one year on for me! Just take all the positives you can from the experience while it’s happening, and if you’re finding it so difficult to do that that it’s not enjoyable, try and think about it on a fresh, clear head the next day.
Obviously everyone has different things they love and enjoy, but I wanted to share some of the ways I made my first year as a student feel more homely and stable, so the transition wasn’t as dramatic.
I love taking photos, recording photos and having photos around me. I know some people are in the ‘memories are all in your head anyway’ camp, and there has been time where I’ve lost a memory card of images and everyone has said ‘don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world!’ but I am always gutted! I just love having pictures of my favourite things and favourite people and so for me, having a pin board full of my favourites made me smile each day and think of home.
Similarly, having all my things around was great. Lots of my friends only brought a couple of boxes of stuff, I literally brought my whole room, my whole wardrobe, everything! I didn’t want to leave things behind. The mirror my Grandma gave me, recipe books, favourite novels and DVDs, all those things which make somewhere home for me, I wanted them there. I wanted the move to be home, so I tried to make it so in the best way I know!
Movie Marathons and Pamper Nights
I love watching Friends while I have a long lazy bath back at home, it’s one of my favourite things to do when I want to relax! As I didn’t have a bath in Halls, I made sure to always have some fancy, delicious smelling pamper products on hand for the evenings when I needed a pick me up. I took a hot shower then painted my nails, moisturised and put on the snuggliest of PJs with my favourite film. I also love reading, but sometimes when you’re overtired, I like to completely zone out which reading isn’t ideal for!
For beauty products that are a bit fancy and feel extra special, I’d suggest L’Occitane or Lush.
For feel good movies? Pretty Woman, About Time, Notting Hill and Crazy, Stupid Love.
For emotional books that you can completely get lost in? Atonement & On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (if you enjoy a tragic love story to bawl your eyes out too!) or The Bridget Jones Series by Helen Fielding (for silly giggles and quick reads)
Tea, Cake and Friends
I love tea, so for me, that’s always a necessity no matter what my mood. In winter, mulled apple is good too! Literally just heat apple juice in a pan on the hob with cinnamon, cloves, orange peel and a dash of honey. So delicious. If you enjoy baking- I know it relaxes some people- whip up a treat. If not, get a nice box of chocolates, some really indulgent ice cream or another sweet of choice and dig in guilt free for the night! You can always go to gym or do some quick walking to and from uni the next day when you feel better, indulge if you want to and don’t feel bad about it! Friends is obviously my go to TV series. Scott bought me the box set and it has been put to good use. I watch from series 1-10, then just restart a couple of days later and it still feels fresh and new. My flatmate last year, Jamie, could quote most of the series and could tell you all the plot lines and subplots in that episode. I used to test him and I don’t think he ever failed!!!
So, they are some of the ways I bring myself back to the level I need to be on when I’m tired, stressed, upset, overwhelmed or just feeling lazy. As I said, this whole experience will be a learning curve and learning anything is tough so make sure you take breaks in whatever way you feel is best. These are just my solutions but find what suits you and don’t forget it.
If you ever feel unhappy or stressed to the point where you can’t really see sense or clarity in the situation, please talk to someone about it. When you start university, no matter where you are, so much information is given on support services and people you can talk to so just bare it in mind!
If you want to ask any other questions about my university experience or for any advice on anything I’ve spoken about (even crappy film recommendations ;)), please feel free to tweet me, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or comment below! Happy to help!
Good luck and enjoy your time!