Settling in at university is a rite of passage for everyone. This year has undoubtedly added another layer onto it - though these unprecedented circumstances cannot hide the fact that starting university is still a stepping stone in itself, with or without this year’s unique circumstances. So, what kind of advice do I give for something that is so individual and universal at the same time?
1. Find your ordinary
I am an advocate for appreciating the ordinary, and for always having a solid foundation beneath everything you do. Whether you’re in London or studying remotely, if you incorporate enough familiarity to your everyday life, it will become much easier to cope with the new aspects of it, such as trying (or failing) to hold meaningful conversations over Zoom or getting a ‘feel’ of the university you are a part of.
Your daily coffee-drinking ritual? Your favourite reading nook? A weekly virtual happy hour? Take up anything that can ensure you that you’re still you, and this is still your life. As this can bring huge benefits along with it and make it easier to deal with the vastness of university.
2. Be in tune with yourself
So much of the university experience is about the pressure to find “your people,” but there is not enough emphasis on your relationship with yourself. If you step into this new space with a strong sense of self, or with a willingness to sustain it, there is a higher chance you’ll get found sooner than you’ll get lost. Although making meaningful connections with others is important, it is just as vital to prioritise yourself, not other people. If you do put yourself first, you’ll feel safer and more attuned to your environment – physical or virtual. This can help you both during and after your university experience, as you’ll feel more confident and self-assured wherever you go.
3. You probably won’t meet all your expectations
As a chronic planner/daydreamer, this is challenging for me to fathom, but I have to tell you that you should cast aside your expectations. Don’t expect to join millions of societies (or rather, don’t expect to engage in those millions of societies you do join) or meet numerous people right away, or become more organised than you’ve ever been before. Embrace the fact that this won’t be an ideal experience, and then it might become easier to settle at university. Always keep in mind that university is also about experimentation and you cannot plan experimentation.
Starting university is hard, and this is both an overstatement and an inevitability. But the best preparation there is happens while persevering through it; then you’ll surely learn a lot about yourself and what you need along the way.
The Positive Peers at KCLSU are students trained to help students thrive through creating spaces where they support and learn from each other. Initiatives, events and resources, to put your wellbeing first! If you want to know more about this voluntary group of wellbeing champions, click here!