by Daniel Kendal
University will be the best years of your life, they say. Get involved with everything, they say. All wonderful advice if you’re the naturally outgoing type. But what happens if you can’t bring yourself to say hello to everyone you meet in the corridor or pub? If you don’t feel like you fit in with the ‘in crowd’ or find yourself struggling for things to say, read on for some great tips to not just survive your first year, but get the most out of it.
The first thing to realize is that you are not alone, and you’re certainly not abnormal. Almost everyone will feel out of sorts at some point during the first stages of settling into university. The important thing is how you deal with it. There could be something that is holding you back. Perhaps you missed Fresher’s Week, or orientation, or had to change university choice at the last minute. Are you missing home or don’t like doing the ‘normal’ things to meet people – such as clubbing or sports? All these things could make you more reluctant to put yourself out there. Maybe, just maybe, you’ve let yourself slip a bit since you arrived. No one knows enough you to say that your new shampoo or deodorant is letting you down – so make sure you are both as hygienic and approachable as you can be!
A Problem Shared…
Share with your family and friends back home. If you’re not having the ace time everyone promised, then don’t feel that you have to pretend the opposite to family and friends back home. Sometimes just disclosing that to your nearest and dearest can relieve the pressure as they remind you that you’re a great person and loved by those you’ve left behind. It is worth having a think about who you’ll get the best advice from before calling up. You don’t want to hear from a well-meaning relative that you should just ‘get over’ your shyness. Choose to share your concerns with someone you trust to give good advice.
[It’s never too late to get involved. Read advice from our community!]
Don’t believe the hype…
Social media is to blame for a lot of the pressure we put on ourselves to ‘have lots of friends’. People place value on the number of friends or followers online. Just remember that the life we present online isn’t usually indicative of the reality. We don’t generally update when we’re feeling lonely or that we had a rubbish time last night. It can feel more lonely online when you look at everyone else’s photos. So many people insist on documenting what a good time they’re having. But think back to the great times you’ve had. Were you stopping every five minutes to take photos and update your status? No, you were enjoying the moment.
Open door, open mind…
Keep your door open – literally – all the time so that you get to know the people around you – not just the people in your major for the next three or four years! If you enter a room or a conversation with a smile and lots of positive things to say, you will find that the people worth knowing are communicative and friendly back. Don’t jeopardize your work by joining every activity and sporting club available. Choose wisely, but try to do at least one thing outside your ‘comfort zone’. This is especially useful if you’re not the clubbing/pubbing type.
And you know what? If it doesn’t work at first, you’ll soon find that you bump into like-minded people in the most unexpected of places, just be ready to welcome them into your life. Don’t pressure yourself too much and end up with friends you don’t want! With real life friends, unlike Facebook, it’s quality over quantity.
Daniel Kendal is a recent graduate, writer and gadget lover. Daniel went through the UCAS clearing telegraph process to gain his place at university and once there he found it was harder to settle in and fit in than he was expecting.
What was your experience? Comment below and let us know.