So for all those freshers and those who have completed university, you know what I’m talking about – going into a new environment, to start a new course, with new friends; and if you’re an international student…you’re leaving a whole world behind you to move forward! You are starting university again.
It can be very intimidating and I know from personal experience that even when you are the most outgoing person, sometimes around a new group of people you can feel as timid as a mouse. Feeling awkward about forcing a conversation with someone you don’t know, feeling lonely because maybe you don’t make friends as rapidly as some people around you. If you are a commuter, maybe you feel isolated away from a lot of the freshers’ activities designed for socialising.
[ALSO READ: Fresher’s Week Tips for Students Living at Home]
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Believe me when I tell you I understand the anxiety you are facing as a new student. My first experience as a fresher was extremely daunting for me, but as I progressed through university I became more of a social person and less self-conscious about talking to strangers in the same situation as me. But now I find myself in the same position I was in 3 years ago pursuing a further degree. As nervous as I am, I can’t but feel more prepared than I did 3 years ago – both mentally and emotionally. These are the things that I wish I could have told the 18-year old me:
Everybody else is in exactly the same situation as you
Even when people live in halls, they may not be completely alone, but having the wrong friends can be just as detrimental as having no friends at all. So just be aware – everyone really is in the same boat, so don’t feel weird randomly saying hi to someone you don’t know. Trust me, I’m a part-time cashier, so saying hi to random people is actually my job!
The awkwardness will pass
It’s only a matter of a few weeks or even a month until you have a good group of friends. Everyone is different in the time they take to make friends. Some people make friends fairly easily; others may take longer but form more long-lasting friendships. The truth is that everyone does make friends eventually. However different you may be from the crowd, there is always someone that will share the same interests and values as you, so don’t be afraid to show them what you’re made of!
[ALSO READ: The Student Guide to Surviving First Year]
You ARE a great friend to have
Just because other people haven’t noticed you yet does not make you any less ‘friend-worthy’. If you are an international student, remember there are people that are from the country you came from and that understand what it is like to leave home to make your future. That ambition in itself is admirable and don’t let a little bit of loneliness take that away from you! Being unique is what makes you worth having as a friend and what will eventually make you an employable individual.
Make sure you make friends on your course
There will be many opportunities to do this and it is so important because there is nothing that will make you feel lonelier than having no partner for group work. It should happen automatically during assignment and lecture time, but in case it doesn’t, make sure you put in some extra effort to do this. As intelligent as you may be, your course friends will know things that you do not and understand the workload you have, as well as share the same pain as you during exam time. They may randomly mention a coursework you forgot about or even a change in timetabling you weren’t aware of. These little things can have an impact on your degree. Mistakes can happen; after all, we are all human, but we can at least try to avoid making them, right?