Loneliness at University: A guide to staying sane for the weeks to come

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By Elin Alexander, Third year, Politics and Social policy

The Croft Magazine // The first few weeks of university for many is sold as the best week of your life. The reality is that although university can definitely be a fun experience, it’s more likely you’ll spend a lot of it feeling lost. here are a few of my tips to avoid letting these moments of loneliness get you down.

Sometimes, it feels like everyone else is having an amazing time | Emily Fromant / Epigram

My freshers’ week felt like I was constantly high, just buzzing around the place asking and answering the same questions a million times, while functioning on about one meal a day and three hours of sleep. There was definitely a pressure to constantly be the best version of yourself so that nobody caught you on a bad day, and quite frankly it was exhausting. What you don’t see behind closed doors is how drained everyone’s social batteries are and how lonely many people are. Being surrounded by people all day but not being able to actually call any of them your friends yet is daunting to say the least. It’s also so common to feel like you’re the only one feeling this way while you’re viewing everyone’s stories where they seem to be having the time of their lives. You need to know that feeling homesick, or lonely, is something so many of us university students experience, and that it is nothing to be ashamed of.

Step out of your comfort zone

Although the whole experience of Freshers’ Week may be entirely out of your comfort zone already, taking that one baby step further is sometimes the difference between a good and bad day. If you’re a little overwhelmed by the thought of trying to remember your fifteen housemates’ names, then sometimes it’s a little easier to knock on the door next to yours and have a little chat with your neighbour. Not only are you then able to get to know someone on a more personal level but you may have made their day by just dropping in to say hello. If they’re not your kind of person, or even if nobody in your flat is your kind of person, it’s always worth visiting the other flats in the building. You’ll always find your friends, it just requires a little extra effort sometimes.

Take some you time

Although socialising and making friends is an important part of Freshers’, it’s also so important to take some time for yourself. Having a night in to just eat some proper food and get some sleep can sometimes make a world of difference to your mood. You may also need a bit of time to gather your thoughts in your own company and recharge that social battery. Constantly pushing yourself to socialise can be so exhausting and it’s so important to just take a breath and slow down for a second in your own space.

My friends from home and I stay in close contact | Emily Fromant / Epigram

Contact friends and family

When I’m feeling lonely, one of my favourite things to do is speak to my friends or family at home. If you have friends who have just started university like you, chances are they could do with a taste of home too. Sometimes all you need to make you feel better is a facetime call with a cup of tea. With this in mind, make sure you maintain a healthy distance from home too. Sometimes people deal with homesickness by visiting home a lot or having parents visit them frequently. Although this might make you feel better in the short term, sometimes it makes it harder to get into a routine at university which makes settling much harder.

Don’t beat yourself up about it

The important thing to note is that all of this is a process. Lockdown meant that we spent so much time with our families and so being a fresher this year must be extra difficult for some and perhaps much easier for others. I know that settling into a routine last year was particularly difficult for me as everything was online and nothing open a lot of the time. This meant I was constantly travelling home in order to stay sane and so it took me until third year to settle properly at university. Everyone is different and everyone has different coping mechanisms, the important thing is is to look after yourself and try to keep an eye out for others who might be feeling the same way. University can be tough and it can be amazing, but it is absolutely what you make of it.

Epigram / Emily Fromant

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