Speak Up. Reach Out is Freshered's mental health initiative.
When moving to University, it is easy to assume that making friends and forming relationships will be easy. While this is mostly the case, for people like me, it’s a very different experience. Moving out of your family home and being miles away from what you know can be daunting. Particularly if you have nobody to confide in and your time as a student hasn’t been what you’d hoped it would be. If you are feeling lonely at university, please rest assured you are not alone.
When I started university, I didn’t have many friends at home. For me, going to university meant getting a fantastic degree, enjoying an independent lifestyle and, most importantly, making loads of new pals. Unfortunately, this didn’t really work out. I moved into a private student house after learning that student accommodation where I moved to was far too expensive for me.
After finding a nice house in a quiet area, my landlord explained that I would be living with five other ‘quiet’ girls. Immediately, I felt as though I had made a mistake. Of course, living with quiet girls isn’t a bad thing. But I took it to mean they wouldn’t be taking part in any fresher’s events, which they didn’t. As the time to move in got closer and closer, I’d already accepted that I wasn’t going to be making many friends during my first week, which sucked.
The girls I met were all very timid, and spent all of their time in their rooms. As a result, so did I. I made no friends, apart from two or three that I met on my course. So I spent the first few months of supposedly the best years of my life feeling depressed and alone. There were so many things I wish I did differently.
I wanted so hard to go out and meet new people. But I couldn’t do it on my own without looking like a sociopath. So, I reached out to the few friends I had, and ended up meeting their friends as a result. Through these networks, I finally had a glimmer of university life that I was looking forward to all those years.
Eventually I had a group of pals that I regularly saw, including good friends on my course I enjoyed speaking to and spending time with out of lectures. When I felt more comfortable, I eventually started using a dating app to meet other students to form romantic relationships.
It wasn’t easy for me to deal with my loneliness. I spoke to my family whenever I felt super lonely. But I understand that not everybody has that option.
Sometimes it may seem as though everybody else is having a much better time than you, but you need to remember that everybody is in the same position. Don’t be too pushy when meeting new people. Just be yourself, and don’t go into the experience with the assumption that you will get along with everyone and make hundreds of friends.
I also recommend you move into student accommodation. That way you can attend freshers’ events with your flat mates, as well as clubbing and other social gatherings. Before you move to university, follow their Freshers pages on Twitter or Facebook. Often they will post events, student deals, and the chance for people to connect with others who are on their courses before they begin.
Joining a social is also a great way to meet people if you feel you don’t gel with your housemates or are too shy to reach out to your course mates. There is a social for just about anything at university, so there will definitely be something that you will want to do. You can also search for a social on your university’s website or social media, and enquire if you want to join.
University life can be scary, and doing it whilst worrying about not making friends is a mental strain that nobody needs.
See also: How to get cheap university textbooks