By Millie Braund
Returning, or going for the first time, to university can be tough, let alone after months of being at home due to the Coronavirus. Missing home, trying to make new friends and do uni work at the same time can be overwhelming, but we have a few tips to help you settle (back) into university life.
Try out new things!
If there’s one thing I regret from my time at uni, it’s not joining or trying out enough things! The first two weeks of term are often filled with lots of free taster sessions, where you can try out different societies or sports clubs and meet new friends that you’re sure to stick with throughout your time at uni.
With most things moving online this term, it’ll probably be easier than ever to access and join in on virtual meetups and sessions, so why not try something new? Or, play your hand at a few different things and see what fits?
If this is your first year at university, there are often group chats or pages for people studying on the same course as you - check them out and see if they’re doing any meet-ups! It’s always a great idea to make friends on your course, as you can share coursework tips, and go to lectures and seminars together.
Meet up with your (new) friends
Every student has experienced the feeling of missing home, or feeling alone or anxious at university but, just remember - you are not alone! There are thousands in the same position as you, struggling to find their way.
So, take some time to arrange catch ups (keep these virtual if they’re outside your ‘bubble’) with friends, as they’ll be a great shoulder to lean on further down the year. Virtual meetups can include Facetimes, Netflix Parties or even quiz nights!
Spruce up your university accommodation
Student accommodation can be quite bare and dull, so I always make sure to add some homely bits to feel more relaxed and as though it’s really ‘my’ space. Whether you’re taking a car-load of things from home, or just a small trip to the local shop, it can feel comforting to personalise your room, especially if you’re living there for the whole year!
Whether it’s a little succulent, photos from home or fairy lights, adding a touch of the things you love will make you feel more at home in your new accommodation.
Make a to-do list
Getting back into a routine after months at home is bound to be difficult, and I often find myself wasting my time at university by getting distracted by my phone or computer. So, I like to make little to-do lists of everything I want to accomplish, so I feel satisfied that I’ve at least had a semi-productive day!
Some things I make sure to do are: try to get up in the morning and not lie-in, so you can relax after a long day of uni or working, and add mini tasks to your list, such as ‘showering’, to stay positive and feel as though you’re still ticking things off if you’re having a sluggish day. I usually hold myself accountable for doing something if I’ve written it down!
I also always buy a diary planner for university. This way, I can keep all of my deadlines, exam dates, meetings, seminars, and so on, in one place, and can tick them off as I go. I’ve found this super helpful for not forgetting about things or leaving them to the last minute. Getting behind on deadlines can often lead to unnecessary stress or all-nighters which are not good for your mental health, let alone your work. It can also be useful for seeing how your week is looking, and when to plan things like going to socials, or nights off with friends!
Make sure to take some ‘me time’
Taking time for a little self-love can be really beneficial for your productivity, happiness and, most importantly, mental health. Of course, university work is important, but take time off to relax, do the things you've learnt to love over lockdown, and don’t be too hard on yourself.
I usually like to put some fairy lights on, get into bed with some chocolate and watch some of my favourite Youtubers or tv programmes on my laptop! But, self-care looks different to everyone and, as long as you feel as though you’re taking some time off to relax and spend time with yourself, then you’re doing it right!
University can be stressful, especially when moving into a new place and having to settle in to a new routine! Hopefully these tips have been useful, but just remember - you are not alone. There are lots of support mechanisms universities have put in place to help you through this tough time, so make sure to reach out for help if you need it and, most importantly, enjoy your year at uni!