Freshers’ week fears

Freshers' week and your first term and uni isn't always easy. The Mix helps you through your first few months of student life - from homesickness to making friends.

I’m really homesick

Remind yourself that it’s totally natural to miss your old life. It’s cosy and familiar, unlike the new place, but you won’t feel lonely forever. Talk to someone about what you’re going through, whether it’s new friends, family back home, or your student welfare officer – most universities run support services for people in exactly your situation. Just voicing your worries will help you to gain some perspective.

Stay in touch with old friends, but don’t be rushing home every weekend. It’s good to hear a familiar voice over the phone sometimes, but too much of that will just extend the grief. And remember that everyone – yes everyone, even that seemingly confident and poised girl – feels nervous and lonely sometimes. They’re just good at covering it up.

I miss my friends and family back home

From mums who miss you to the boyfriend or girlfriend you’ve had to leave behind, breaking the ties that bind can be tough. If you’re in a relationship before you start your student life, be open and honest about what impact your new freedom will have. Some long-distance relationships do survive, so long as you’re prepared to adapt. Ask yourself how much effort you’re prepared to put in and if you trust each other. If the answers are negative it may save a lot of anguish to end things on a happier note now.

Friends and parents who won’t leave you alone may need clear boundaries. Offer to speak at a pre-arranged time and make it clear you’re otherwise too busy getting on with your exciting new life to take social calls.

Making friends in freshers’ week

Meet your new course mates and flatmates before you even leave home. “There are thousands of Facebook groups for you to speak to people,” says second year Multimedia Journalism student Jade Barringer. “I’d spoken to several of my course mates before I started, and one or two of my flatmates.”

Hang out in the communal areas rather than locking yourself away in your room, and take the opportunity to socialise whenever you can.” Definitely get to know the people on your course, because your course mates introduce you to even more people,” advises recent journalism graduate Lucy Wright. “Student club nights are always a winner, as well.”

Why am I so tired?

With so much happening at once, sleep might be taking a back seat. If you’re feeling homesick, depressed, or just a bit on edge, remember lack of sleep can seriously affect your ability to deal with life, so always try to get enough. Learn how to catch 40 winks – a quick power nap can have surprisingly restorative effects – and avoid those Red Bull and vodkas if you want to sleep well.

I feel really lost

If you feel like you’re on an alien planet every time you step out of the front door it can contribute to that scary lost feeling. You need to get your bearings. Try pinning a local map to the kitchen wall and taking a stroll round your new ‘hood’ (the exercise will help with stress, too). Remember Google Maps is a handy way to get from A-B in a new city and show friends where to meet you.

I’ve had unprotected sex, what should I do?

The first thing to consider is emergency contraception, which you can buy at chemists or go to your doctor (GP), a GUM clinic or Brook clinic. To get checked out for STIs, sign up with the university doctor and ask for a test or contact your local GUM clinic. It’s easy to ignore it, but if you don’t get checked out now you’ll always wonder if you’ve picked up anything nasty, and you risk passing infections on to someone else.

I’m already running out of money

Put simply: Budget. Andrew Hagger of financial website moneynet.co.uk has the following advice: “Work out roughly what money you have available to spend each week and try to stick to it. Don’t get carried away and blow all your money in freshers’ week. If you find you’re struggling with your finances, speak to the student advisor at your bank. Don’t bury your head in the sand as the problem won’t go away, and worrying about money could have a negative impact your studies.”

And if you’re seriously broke because your student loan hasn’t come through, read our article about what to do here.

Photo of sad student by Gary Burns

Next Steps

  • Brook provides free sexual health and wellbeing services for young people in the UK. Brook's services include local clinics and online digital sex and relationships tool.
  • Looking for a mentor to help boost your knowledge and skills? Find a youth zone close to you.
  • Reveal your skills with Define Me and find the right words to tell employers.
  • Download Motimator - an app that helps you get the career you want - by giving you a gentle kick up the ass each day when motivation is running low.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015