As I am now a semester into university, and as I am home for Christmas and it is all anyone seems to ask me about, I thought I would reflect on my experience thus far.
I have to level with you, I really didn’t want to go.
Obviously, long term, of course I wanted to go, but on the morning we drove up to Birmingham you could have given me 20p and I wouldn’t have gone. Honestly. I was terrified. And in the first week or so, I cried. A lot. I missed home, I missed my family, I just felt so lonely because I didn’t know anyone and I was living with total strangers, all who quite like to drink and party where I am someone who doesn’t drink alcohol at all, and much prefers to spend time with people chilling out and watching a film. I had booked into quite a few freshers’ events, but all quizzes and things like that, and no-one in my flat was going to any of them. Luckily, I met a girl on the second night (one of the people I am going to be living with next year now!) who lives in my block and also isn’t really big on the whole drinking and clubbing scene. So she came with me to the quizzes and the pizza and bowling night and we had a good time. I was still terrified.
I only started feeling better when my course actually started. That’s not to say if I could change the past I would have skipped Freshers’ Week, because I did meet some cool people on my course (many of whom I’m still friends with), and it was a good settling down period. But when the course started and I had something to do everyday I felt so much better. I was getting into the rhythm of things, and by the Wednesday of that week I no longer had a lump in my throat.
Then, the weekend hit.
My gosh, that first weekend is HARD. My flatmates were still going out every single night, and there’s only so much work you can do, as I discovered as I sat fidgeting, desparately trying to stay awake whilst reading pages of poetic definitions. When I phoned home that night, I cried, and my mum sighed and said that she thought the weekend was going to be difficult for me. The worst thing was that the friend I had made in the block had gone home for the weekend, so I felt completely alone.
But time passed, as it tends to do, and I got through it to Monday. And on Monday, I was fine again.The next weekend was better, and I began to feel confident after that. I had settled in, that everything was hunkydory.
I went home the weekend after for my mum’s birthday. It was bizarre – I have the same feeling now – home and uni seem like two separate worlds. I was fine until I went to go back to uni. I was on the train station platform when I felt the tears welling up. I was fighting tears for the entire of the 3 hour journey. I feel that those tears were provoked by the realisation that I didn’t live at home anymore, my life was at uni – that’s not a fun realisation for everyone. When I got back into my room, I locked myself in and sobbed. My friend had found it hard going back the first time, and so she had recommended that we met up for tea when she got back, as she went home that weekend as well. That tea was the pick me up I needed. After that, my family came up the next weekend, I went home for reading week and going back after reading week was so much easier – maybe because I was so tired I spent most of the journey asleep!
I didn’t come home at all between reading week and the Christmas break. I really enjoyed uni life – I participated in three Ballroom and Latin dance competitions with the uni society, which were amazing fun, I went to the midnight premiere of Fantastic Beasts with my coursemates, resulting in us all being exhausted in the seminar the morning afterwards, and I managed to secure a house for next year with some of my friends. I still wouldn’t call uni home, but I would say that I am very happy there.
My main point of sharing all of this is this: the worst thing a lot of the time is feeling that you are so alone. Everyone around you appears to be loving uni life, not homesick at all, and you feel so lonely. But I promise, if you talked to anyone, they would say that they’re missing home, even if only the tiniest bit. Uni is an amazing experience, but the first few months are a rollercoaster of emotions. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t like it immediately, or if you feel great and then suddenly feel lonely and upset again. Allow yourself to feel these things, plan trips home and just give yourself time. Remember that everyone adjusts differently as well, just because the people around you are loving life doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you if you don’t feel the same. If you’re feeling unsure though, give it at least a term. Things aren’t always as terrible as they first seem.