9 months completed. I’ve already debated multiple times whether to actually post this because not a lot of people know about how I felt about my first year but I think it’ll be interesting for me to look back on in the future and it’ll be a positive message (trust me on this!) for those about to move away from home/start uni.
If I was to think back to last September, I cannot possibly imagine that I’m feeling sad about leaving uni for the summer and spending 3 months at home. The honest truth being that between September – December of first year; I hated the uni, I hated my course, I hated Norwich, I hated myself – I just wanted to be back at home.
Before starting at university, I had a plan that everything would be better once I’d moved away from home, I would be able to control my own life and therefore the aspects within it that I was miserable about. My plan before I started uni was to eat healthily, exercise regularly, make new friends and just learn about myself. However after moving into my university accommodation, this didn’t seem like a feasible option, for many reasons: I am naturally a quiet and initially a shy person, that is until you get to know me. So being put into accommodation with 12 others who I did not know and having to very quickly feel comfortable with them kind of threw me a bit. I’m quite reserved and it takes me a while to get to know people, so for these first few months I didn’t feel as if I had made any friends or had anyone to talk to which scared me quite a bit and made me feel worse about myself.
On top of this, I was already feeling incredibly self conscious anyway because I’ve always had an issue of some kind with my body image: I’m too fat, my skin’s bad, my hair’s too thick… already I was feeling incredibly small at my lack of social skills, I had fewer friends than when I started uni so naturally this led me to feel awful about myself.
Now (in the words of that famous song!) ‘I am in the middle of a chain reaction’; my lack of self-confidence and unhappiness led to the inevitable comfort eating, a habit I am notoriously good/bad with. Whenever I felt awful (which was quite often!) I would eat: biscuits, cake, and chocolate – anything relatively bad for me. Or on the other side of the scale I would skip meals in the hope that all the weight I had gained since starting uni would just miraculously fall off. Also probably important to mention that my planned exercise regime was basically non-existent. Maybe looking back I could’ve bought myself something healthy to snack on instead, so endlessly munching on bad food wouldn’t have made me feel so bad.
From October to December I also had a part time job working in a toy shop (which I won’t name!), which thankfully would help me with my funds (of which I had very little) for uni. Initially the concept of meeting new people at work and earning money seemed exciting, although I am reminded it most certainly was not exciting. Instead the words dreadful, uninviting and boring come to mind. I can’t pinpoint the exact factor that made it bad but nothing was good about it. So once Christmas came and I was jumping at the thought of coming home to see all my family that I’d missed, my work turned around and told me I had to stay and work over Christmas which meant I wouldn’t be able to come home until January. So the thought of being stuck in a flat on my own over the Christmas period made me miserable. I was very lucky that my Dad was able to come and pick me up so I could spend Christmas day at home and then he dropped me off in Norwich again on Boxing Day – very grateful for that! I was even more grateful at the prospect of never having to work in this shop again after December.
However in January, things got better and I have my lovely flatmates and newfound friends at Quidditch (a society I have no regrets of joining) to thank for that. After joining Quidditch in September because of my job and uni work, it meant that I didn’t regularly turn up to practise between October and December. However I joined back in January with intentions to become a regular to practise and even go to a few competitions and I was welcomed back very readily which made me start to feel like I had made friends outside of my flat. I also started going out and doing things with friends, which helped to keep my mind off things when sometimes it felt like too much. I began to feel better about things, I started exercising more and trying to eat healthily, one step in the right direction, right?
Since then, my experience just got better and better, I started to appreciate Norwich and UEA, I became really close to the new friends I had made and was starting to feel slightly happier about myself. I now know in my second year, I will like my course. As much I found the course in this first year boring and entirely pointless, I realise that it’s been far more helpful than I would have ever thought (I also want to apologise to anyone who may have been at the receiving end of me moaning about the course but also thank you for putting up with me!)
Thankfully now I feel prepared and willing to go back to uni for my second year, I have a familiar place to go back to, lovely friends to see and a course I know that I will enjoy. So all in all, I’m glad that I stayed at uni for my first year despite it being a rocky road. In retrospect, this post is just a massive thank you to all the new friends I have made, so THANK YOU!
If you’re reading this and worried about starting uni/moving away from home, here’s a list of things that might help.
How to get over the uni blues:
1.) Take a walk – if you feel like you’re either going to comfort eat, or harm yourself in any kind of way, go for a walk by yourself. Put in some headphones, listen to your favourite music, breathe deeply and by the time you’ve finished walking, your calm self may want to do something productive instead. (This sometimes helped for me!)
2.) Healthy – instead of binging on unhealthy snacks and then feeling ashamed of yourself afterwards, take the effort of buying healthy food that you wouldn’t normally buy as this achieves your desire to eat something but this time it’s healthy. For me I’d buy either mangos, or carrot sticks to dip in hummus – whatever works best for you!
3.) Talk – whether it’s a friend, someone in the family or a healthcare professional talking about how you’re feeling always helps, even if you may feel useless, embarrassed or a disappointment. Having someone there to help is far more productive than staying silent.
4.) Do things you enjoy – you like reading? Go read! You like watching TV? Watch TV! You enjoy baking? Go and bake something! Just remember to spare time for yourself and doing things that you like whilst not closing in on yourself! It may sound so simple and a stupid piece of advice but it slowly helps.
Here’s to the next 3 years of University, I can’t wait!
By Beth Morley