It’s that time of year where new adventures are beginning, new stories are being started and a lot of us are about to delve into the unknown and take on new challenges. Whether it’s starting university, moving in with new flatmates, meeting new people and getting settled in a new city… there is always room for adventure!
Over on Twitter there’s been a lot of discussion recently about moving in with new people, being nervous and all that sort of stuff. Four years ago I moved to a new city, I moved away from my family for the first time and I moved in with a flat of complete strangers! I can remember that feeling of excitement and dread mixed together, with a billion what-if type questions filling my mind. The truth is… to all those who are about to start university (or even college) what you need to remember is that everyone is in the same boat. They may not show it but they are most likely just as nervous as you are!
When I first met one of my flatmates back in 2011 I was crying because my mum had just left… that’s pretty much as uncool as you can get, but my flatmate (a complete stranger) hugged me and said she was glad I was crying because she felt exactly the same way! We laughed and then did all the introductions etc. And hey… if you want awkward stories… then one of my flatmates stayed in her room all evening and even went to bed early on the first night of freshers… we thought she hated us. Turns out she is one of the coolest, funniest, sassiest and best human’s that I’ve ever met, and I love her to pieces.
Whatever your expectations are, whatever picture you’ve built up in your mind about starting university – look at that picture. Have you somehow managed to imagine everything that could possibly go wrong? Or have you built a picture of meeting new people, learning new things and starting new adventures? Us humans have an incredible talent for dreaming up the worst possible scenarios, we have very big imaginations, and at times we fail to see the possibility in a situation…
Now I’m not saying ignore all the advice your parents may have given you about not talking to strangers, not going to dodgy places etc. But… keep your mind open, it’s highly likely that one of two situations will occur..
1) Other people will be so happy that you’ve spoken to them because they’re just as nervous as you, you’ll become buddies and you’ll go on loads of awesome adventures.
2) you’ll make friends during the first weeks of your university life and you might not see them again… but that’s fine…
The first few weeks of moving to a new place and meeting new people is kind of like a ‘warm-up’ or a ‘rehearsal’ you get to trial and error new friendships, you get to meet new people and sooner or later the nerves will ease off and everything will start to fall into place.
I’m often asked for tips and advice on making friends at university, it’s strange as in my head I’m the uncoolest, loneliest person ever, but… the people I met at university have without a doubt shaped me into the [awesome] person I am today… hahaha
But yeah, I’ve written articles and blog posts and stuff about moving away for university before, and here’s some of my top tips:
How cliche haha…
- Whether you choose to believe it or not, it’s highly likely that even the kids who you think are ‘cool’ are as nervous and terrified as you are. This is a new fresh start for everyone – find common ground (whether that’s simply pointing out how nervous you are). The first few weeks of uni are when it’s actually socially acceptable to simply walk up to someone and be like ‘Hi, my name is and I like rocks…’ (or say what course you’re studying…)
- Leave your bedroom door open – I don’t mean leave it open for the whole world to see how you live, set yourself boundaries, but… leaving your door open means that when your flatmates walk past they are more likely to interact with you. If you’re feeling extra brave put some music on, or the radio – your flatmates will either tell you to shut up, or the music will spark a conversation.
- Get to know your flatmates – whether you invite them out for a drink or for food it’s best to offer them a situation or scenario where you can all bond, but you have something to do (such as eating) to fill up any awkward moments. You could even suggest cooking a group meal – we cooked a really big Sunday roast during my first week of first year, and it was definitely an ice breaker!
- Try to attend as many welcome events as possible. This ones a deal breaker, not only because you have the chance to meet new people, but there’s tonnes of freebies. Also, most uni’s have welcome weeks or freshers events so be sure to check them out.
- Join a sports team, a music group, a chess group, a cooking society, a local rap club – join in with things that interest you! It’s a fantastic, fantastic, fantastic way to meet new people. Though, don’t try to fake an interest in something… I joined a rock / metal group type thing in my first year, I didn’t attend a single event and was really embarrassed as the leader lived in the same block of flats as me, and I had to shuffle past awkwardly for a whole year… (I may be slightly exaggerating that, she was of course lovely!)
- Now, this ones important… IF YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO COOK SOMETHING ASK SOMEONE ELSE. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve nearly cried with laughter thinking about something that one of my flatmates did in first year… I can remember walking into the kitchen and seeing him cooking an egg in the kettle. It was hilarious, in fact it was one the best moments of my university experience, we bonded really quickly over that. I taught him how to cook things and he taught me how to cook things – cooking is a really ace way to make friends (especially if the only thing you know how to cook is pasta…)
- Stock up on pasta. People say that pasta is what students live off – it isn’t, at all… pub breakfasts are of course the in-thing, but… pasta is a life saver, and it’s best to stock up on as much food as possible at the start of the year. Long life milk, cereal, noodles, soup, baked beans, tinned tomatoes, tinned veg, crackers and all the stuff that lasts long… stock up, my mum literally sent me to uni with like four huge bags of food. I was embarrassed, a lot, but it saved me butt.
I could actually weirdly sit here and type endless tips and advice… but it’s making me miss uni too much haha! Also, I’m sure you have better things to do than read this! (Aka: perfecting the craft of boiling eggs).
N.B: If you are worried about disclosing any thing such as mental health issues etc. don’t worry! Most universities should contact you in advance and tell you about the support available, if not you should be able to go to your Students’ Union or Student Services to find out more!
Whatever your new adventure is, I hope you have an ace time!
Here’s some highlights from my first year of university:
And here’s me at graduation!