By Laura Gilbert a current Psychological Wellbeing and Mental Health NTU Student
I started university thinking that it was going to be the best experience I had ever had, which it certainly was in the end. However, my first few months were very different to how I had imagined. When I first arrived at university, I was so excited to meet new people, be independent and experience university life away from home. After a few weeks, I hadn’t really made any new friends and I felt like an outsider. Everyone else had found their friendship groups and seemed to be having the best time of their lives whilst I was sitting in my room wondering why I hadn’t found my group yet. A couple of months went by, I felt extremely lonely and isolated, I was going home every weekend and I dreaded going back to university. I had tried going out with different people but I just didn’t feel like I was fitting in. I was living in university dormitories in my own room so I found it even more difficult to meet new people.
I had made a few new friends within around three months of being at university but I still felt like I wasn’t wanted there and I really considered dropping out and returning home. They started looking at houses for second year and had actually secured a room in the same house together but I didn’t feel ready to commit to another tenancy when I wasn’t sure if I was going to stay. My friends found out about my doubts and reassured me about how much they wanted me to stay and to just see how it goes for the rest of the year. If I still didn’t like it then they would understand if I dropped out. I decided to rent out the last room in the same house as them which I was very lucky to get at last minute. I was extremely scared and worried because it was such a big commitment and it meant that I had to at least stay and see how I found living in a house instead of university dormitories.
It turned out to be the best decision of my life. I grew closer to my friends from first year and even made more friends in the house, forming my perfect friendship group which I had wanted for so long. I finally felt like I belonged and I had so much fun that year. I couldn’t believe that I even considered dropping out because university was an incredible experience for me and I look back now with such pride that I managed to get through that struggle at the beginning. I think that moving into a house instead of university dormitories definitely helped me to make new friends and meet new people.
The top three tips that helped me to get through that difficult time were:
1. Opening up to my flatmates about how I was feeling because they encouraged me to stay and see how the rest of the year goes
2. Cutting toxic people out of my life back home who didn’t believe in me and wanted me to quit, such as negative friends
3. Finding comfort living at university by making my room a more homely and cosy environment and watching my favourite comfort shows or movies when I was feeling down. I think that moving into a house instead of university dormitories definitely helped me to make new friends and meet new people.
One regret that I do have is not joining a society because I think this would have helped me so much with my confidence and given me more opportunities to meet new people. Therefore, one final tip from me would be to join a society by trying different societies until you find something that you enjoy.
Finally, remember that you are not alone in experiencing these struggles, you are stronger than you think. Keep going, you have got this!
For more helpful tips take a look at Student Minds resources on starting university.
For help, advice and resources whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.
- Support from NTU
- Self-Care books in NTU’s libraries
- Silvercloud: SilverCloud is our online system designed to help with a range of mental health issues.
- Health and Wellbeing resources
- NTSU Information and Advice service
- Wellness in Mind: Advice and support for anyone in Nottingham experiencing issues with their mental wellbeing
- Student Minds or Student Space
- 10 Keys to happiness