It’s the last week of August which means that prospective students will be preparing for a new chapter of life at university. Many people cannot wait to start – looking forward to the chance to study a subject you are passionate about, the independence, the freedoms, moving out of the family home.
However, this was not the case for me.
I was definitely looking forward to the studying part but if I am honest, I was absolutely terrified about almost everything else. I was very happy staying at home, I didn’t like the thought of the drinking/going out culture of uni or living with strangers and I didn’t think I’d be very good at the practical side of my course because I had done A-levels instead of doing bakery at college. It felt like no one else was feeling this way because they were all so excited about going to uni, so I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to be the odd one out. I had managed to keep these feelings relatively well hidden until I was in the car full of my stuff with mum driving towards Birmingham city centre when it all became real and I burst into uncontrollable tears. Yet after just one week of being there, I was absolutely loving it. There were ups and downs along the way, but I’m going to share some of my tips on how I eventually managed to deal with my pre-uni nerves.
I spent a lot of time on the UCB website reading all about my course, the buildings, the staff and UCBloggers. That way I felt more prepared and had a rough idea of what to expect come September. I also watched countless YouTube videos on a variety of topics, including bedroom decorating videos, cheap student meal recipes, tips for saving money and IKEA hauls to name a few.
- Make your space your new home
On my first night in the maltings once my mum had finally left (she stayed a long time to help me unpack and calm down, as well as taking me out for dinner) I decided against going to broad street for the freshers night. Thankfully I had lovely housemates who were very understanding and didn’t judge me like I was worried they would for not going out. Instead, I got into some comfy pyjamas, made myself a hot chocolate, unpacked and arranged my room and watched a film before having an early night.
- Spend quality time getting to know your flatmates
On my first morning, I woke up still panicking but determined to keep trying. My flatmates suggested we all go out and explore the city centre for the day and so I went along with them. One of the girls lived close by and had a job in the centre so she gave us a tour, and we spent the day bonding and getting to know one another. This also helped me feel more comfortable about living in the UK’s 2nd largest city after coming from a village of 5,000 people.
- Don’t be afraid to phone
I phoned/skyped my family a lot. This comes down to personal preference- I know some people would rather just try and get on with it and phone their family once a week. Just do what is best for you. Another fun thing to do is send letters/postcards: Mum and I would send them back and forth with fun stickers, stories about our weeks and updates. They were fun to write and receive and served as nice room decorations and heart-warming messages to look back on – I have kept them all.
- Positive attitude
After 2 weeks of freshers’, lectures began! When it came to my first practical I got very scared again because I thought everyone else would be star bakers and I’d be left behind as the worst in the class. Thankfully, that week one of my favourite YouTubers doddleoddle (or just ‘dodie’ as she’s now known) uploaded a video where she sang a song she wrote called “What’s the worst that could happen” and I just sang it to myself in my head all day until I believed what she was telling me. My favourite line has got to be: “What’s the worst that could happen? Everything will be okay. You’ve got this, I know it. Just trust me- you’ll own it. You can and will do something great today.” Don’t underestimate the power of positive thinking.
- Talk to as many people as possible
On the inside, I am not the most confident person, however I was determined to make friends on my course so I forced myself to chat to everyone I sat next to at enrolment and induction. This is quite a specific tip but be open with your interests! In my case that’s mostly books/films/tv series. When it came time for lectures, I wore some merchandise of a programme called Supernatural that I like and when I walked out of my building at the Maltings, a girl recognised it and we chatted all the way to our lecture. She introduced me to a friend of hers and I ended up living with them both in second year!
- Give it time
Although I was fortunate in that I settled in quickly despite my nerves, this may not be the case for everyone. My final bit of advice would be to give it time. I still went through ups and downs but just remember that this is a big change in your life – don’t beat yourself up for not being okay straight away.
I hope this has been helpful to anyone who may feel like they are alone in their worries about starting uni- you’re not! My biggest bit of advice would be to TALK to someone about it and get it off your chest so it doesn’t all build up inside.
Until next time,