8 Things I Wasn’t Told About University

Starting university is scary enough, but moving away from home to a new place can be terrifying. My name is Lois, and as a second-year student who moved from London to Manchester for university, I’ve put together a few points about what I hadn’t been told before I made my ‘big move’.

1) Making friends won’t always happen straight away

This is such an important one, which is why I’ve put it first. I thought I’d have a group of friends that I did everything with as soon as fresher’s was over but that wasn’t the case at all. The fact that I had expected it to be the case made it a lot worse. Being the only girl on my course, and not being able to join societies as I wasn’t a student at the main universities in Manchester was not what I’d expected at all and made me feel quite isolated. It took me months to make the effort after I realised meeting friends wasn’t going to be handed to me on a plate.

2) Free time isn’t always a good thing

In my first year, I was only in university for lectures twice a week, which at first I thought was great – time to do my assignments but also plenty of time to binge watch Netflix. I was living the life! However, it took about 3 weeks before I started experiencing what happens when your brain has too much time to think on its own. I was always happy with my own company, but when you’re not being productive, it’s only a matter of time before being alone starts becoming unhealthy. So if you need to go out of your way to get outside and be around other people, push yourself to do it.

3) Just because it’s student accommodation doesn’t make it more sociable.

In my first year, other than my 4 flatmates, I knew 2 other people in the building I was living in. And there were 600 of us! There had only been 2 or 3 social events in the little lobby with one pool table and a few sofas around a small TV. For 600 students, that wasn’t enough. So, if your university has an SU bar and events you can go to with your fellow students every week: count yourself lucky because not everyone gets that experience. I was told some great advice: on the first day, go around your new building, knock on everyone’s doors and invite them to join you for drinks. I wish I had known that when I first moved in, as my friend who had done this ended up going out with most of the people he’d met that night, every week! It just shows that we have to put ourselves out there to make things happen.

4) Students get 6 months of free Amazon Prime

This one’s slightly off topic but I hadn’t known this until halfway through my first year. One-day deliveries and Prime Video? Yes please! https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/student/signup/info You’re welcome in advance.

5) Keep an eye on your appetite

It’s easy to not eat when you haven’t got someone cooking for you if that’s what you’ve previously been used to. This is especially true if you start to feel low. When we’re down, our appetite can become suppressed so sometimes we don’t even realise we’re not eating. I definitely suffered from this in my first year and consequently lost a lot of weight. I never considered that this would be a problem I’d face because the only stories I had heard about eating at university were of when students in flats would cook with each other and have a great time. That’s not always the reality, so be aware of when you eat and what you eat, and try to keep it somewhat healthy!

8 Things I Wasn’t Told About University

6) It’s okay to go home more than others

Before I started university, I was ready to leave home and basically said to my family ‘see you at Christmas!’. It wasn’t long before that I went back on that statement. I went home just under a month after moving because I was feeling pretty awful. It resulted in me feeling like a failure because hadn’t stuck to what I had planned. I was supposed to be having the time of my life at uni and never wanting to go back home, right? Wrong! It’s not always the case and it definitely wasn’t for me. But I’ve learnt now that it’s okay to go home for some comfort. If it gives you time to refresh your mind then it’s probably a good idea. Don’t be scared about having to go back to university either after coming home. I was pretty terrified of going back to university after Christmas, but I persevered and eventually everything got a little better.

7) Moving to university doesn’t suddenly make everything wonderful

Since I started my GCSE’s way back when, everything had been about getting to university and how great it was going to be compared to school. It was going to be the time where everything fell into place. But to be honest, after moving to Manchester, I realised how much I took school and having a routine for granted. The expectations for university are set so high that it doesn’t matter what it is – friends, relationships, work, exams etc. – there will be something that you find hard. What makes that harder to cope with (for me at least) is the fact that on social media, the university experience is pictured as if it is coated in gold. Students more or less only post about their good experiences: going out all the time, cooking with flatmates, having movie nights and all that good stuff. It doesn’t help that all the university prospectuses portray this image of being the place to give you a fantastic experience, but the reality is that they’re only competing with each other to get your £9,000+ a year. They pitch these expectations to us when, actually, it might be beneficial to put more of an emphasis on letting us know that it will be a big change that some people may struggle with.

8) Ultimately, you’re living a new life

For me, life shifted completely once I’d moved away from home, and if you’re doing the same, it probably will for you too. When I get would get caught up in my new life during the first year, life growing up back home felt like a distant memory for me. You will become distant from your friends you had back home. You will make new ones. You won’t necessarily wake up to people in the house every morning. You have to buy your own groceries. You meet new people. You’re living in a new place. You won’t be speaking to your family as much as you would do at home. You have so many more responsibilities. When you don’t have familiar faces you’ve grown up with to realise any changes in your behaviour or physical health, you have to be a lot more aware of your own well being. Do things that will keep you healthy – exercise, eat well, get enough sleep, and socialise with people.



This is a guest blog post written by Lois.

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