Becoming a university student represents an ever-shifting series of challenges and, perhaps above all else, a navigation of the expectations of peers, parents and tutors alike. The intensity of such a new landscape can often feel overwhelming and, much like the wafer-thin mattress in your new halls’ bedroom, it can often be difficult to settle in.
One big factor in the complex strain that moving to university can cause is the sheer volume of options available to new students; whether it is academically, socially or culturally, life becomes a series of door-opening decisions which can often feel daunting as prospects. Particularly - although not exclusively, when a student moves to a new city, they find themselves forced into an engagement with an entirely new, often faster-paced environment which demands, or so we think, immediate commitment.
The structure of student life plays heavily into this; freshers culture represents a fear of missing out more than anything else, sometimes causing a strain on the well-being of a student who is not accustomed to the social pressures of such an environment. Combine this with the difficulties of matching the intensity of your new lecturers’ high-minded demands and, suddenly, starting university becomes tougher than Fresh Meat would have you think. After all, we as unique individuals are not all capable of fitting into the model of university life which is spread through high-schools like folklore: and that’s okay.
Whilst some fresh-faced students tackle university with a wide-eyed readiness to spend the next three or four years so hungover that daily exercise is constituted by a jog to McDonald’s, this approach does not suit everyone, and it’s easy to feel alienated by its excesses. One-in-ten university students drop out in their first year, with nationwide polls citing financial struggles as the prominent reason. Yet, we should not let the obvious battle that students have with finances obscure the strains that university culture can cause. There are many, many pathways for a student to carve their unique identity, but, crucially, such opportunities are difficult to engage with as soon as one steps foot off the Megabus.
It’s okay to voice these concerns; after all, so many students harbour them. Opportunities will appear, even if the Yoga Society that you sign up for in freshers isn’t for you. You will meet many great people throughout your degree, so don’t worry if you haven’t by mid-October. Finally, something that nobody told me before starting university: be careful when reheating rice, it’s risky business.
Jack, Stint HQ