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University Is Hard Work

Alice Maher

My first year at university, to be brutally honest, was an utter shambles. It took me the whole year to find my feet and, for a while I felt so pathetic for feeling like that. I’d look onto my social media and see old school friends having the best time of their life at their universities. I could not understand why I was struggling so much to feel settled. I’d made friends, I adored the city I was in, I was doing well at my course. I felt so silly for finding it so difficult! However, coming home for summer I got to have face to face conversations with those i’d been watching through a social media lens and realised- everybody felt the same.

We get sold on the idea that university is from the first second you arrive the biggest adventure of a lifetime, with laughs every single minute and a new opportunity to grasp at every turn. Don’t get me wrong it does come with plenty of opportunities and plenty of amazing, funny memories but, it does come with a lot of hard struggles. You’re living on your own (likely) for the first time. You need to learn how to manage your finances, do your washing, cook for yourself, clean up, travel around your new city. All whilst you’re homesick, trying to make new friends, maintain old friendships, learn a brand new course, adapt to a new learning style, potentially handle a job and, have a social life. The list is endless. It’s a year full of firsts and the sheer amount of stuff to think about and consider can become very pressurising.

It was so comforting to talk to other friends and realise they’d felt the exact same. Despite, all those high moments captured on their snapchat stories they’d spent a lot of time worrying over all the same stresses I’d experienced. I wish i’d had all those conversations much earlier on. Hearing that practically everyone had felt out of their depth and anxious for parts of their uni experience acted as a comfort blanket for me. I realised that all those emotions i’d felt, that i’d labelled as negatives of university, were normal reactions to have towards these massive learning curves. Looking back and putting those moments where I struggled into perspective I realised just how much i’ve achieved over the last year.

Let’s accept the fact- university is hard work. The more we talk about that- the more we make people feel that they aren’t alone in any struggles they feel. It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, it’s your transition into adulthood and it is terrifying. But…it’s also exciting. Don’t feel isolated in your feelings of doubt or stress, i’m pretty sure that the person across the hall from you or sat in front of you in your lecture is or has felt the same way. I wish i’d spoken to people around me more about how I was feeling. I also wish i’d made more use of my universities facilities. Welfare, societies, free counselling access, volunteering, drop in chats- there are so many networks that your university is likely to offer you that are designed just to make you feel much less alone. Go to them, talk to them, shout from the rooftops if you’re feeling low because you will be met with so much comfort from everyone around you who will all know exactly what you’re talking about and, will be so thankful that someone has spoken aloud the thoughts inside their own head!

It’s okay not to be okay especially during your freshers year at university. Perhaps the most overwhelming academic years you will have. Celebrate each little hurdle you jump over, talk to as many people as you can, access your welfare outlets and, most importantly remember you are not alone.

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