A student survival guide to living away from home
Moving away for university brings with it an independence that is liberating and exciting. At the same time, learning to live away from family and friends back home is something many first year students (and even second and third years!) struggle with.
If the idea of living away from home is starting to feel overwhelming, don’t worry. Here are some tips on how to adjust to your new situation that will hopefully help you to enjoy all the fun new experiences coming your way!
Remember: you’re not alone
Whether it’s Welcome Week or you’re halfway into first semester, if you’re starting to panic… breathe and try not to worry too much. All those people around you who look like they’re having way more fun? They’ve probably had the same moments of doubt, worry and insecurity that you are experiencing too.
Starting at uni and being away from home brings ups and downs; although we hope the ups outweigh the more perplexing times, just remember that you are not alone and your fellow first years have probably been secretly stressing about some of the same things as you. Chatting to your housemates and people on your course and sharing your concerns may just help to ease your mind.
Bring a little bit of home with you
A trip to IKEA and some local charity shops (sensibly budgeted, of course – see point 6) will help you to deck out your new room in your own style and make it more ‘you’. But when you’re packing up the contents of your old bedroom, don’t forget to bring one or two things that will remind you of home when you need that bit of comfort. A favourite cushion, a tatty old teddy or a dog-eared copy of your favourite book – it may sound corny but seeing, smelling or holding something like this may just give you the boost you need to boldly face a new day.
Make a Fresh start
Welcome Week is on the horizon and that brings opportunities to meet new people, get your bearings around campus and get a taste of student social life. Sure, it’s exciting but you might feel a little anxious, too – as well as remembering even the most outwardly outgoing Freshers are probably disguising the same anxiety, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make this week live up to expectations.
Although it is undoubtedly a fun week, remember: it’s just a week. You’re a Fresher for a whole year, so take a moment here and there and don’t overdo it in week one. You may have got the impression it’s all parties all the time but, while there are mixers and nights out to enjoy, Welcome Week also offers up mindfulness sessions, social sport, arts and crafts, and BBQs for a more relaxed, enriching start to life at uni.
Unite with the SU
Run for students by students, the Students’ Union is an independent charity committed to making your experience at the University of Wolverhampton the best it can possibly be. So, if you aren’t having the best time because you’re missing home too much, the SU will be able to offer guidance plus an inclusive range of services and activities to enhance your student life.
Need to chat to someone? The Advice and Representation Centre should be your first stop for professional, independent, free and confidential advice. You won’t be the first student they’ve seen who is finding it difficult to adjust to living in halls, so be honest and hopefully it’ll help. Meanwhile, Well@Wolves offers a range of services and activities geared towards student health and wellbeing and you can meet likeminded folk by joining one of many student societies.
Stay in touch
You may be miles away from home but you also live in the age of FaceTime! Don’t needlessly suffer through homesickness – make time to call your best friend or Grandma or even your pet dog. Regular phone or video calls will help to ease the transition and by booking in weekly chats, you’ll have something to look forward to if you’re having a tough week.
Learn to budget
Be kind to yourself and to your wallet by learning to budget early on. One of the toughest things about living independently is the shock of having to pay for everything yourself – and when you’re dependent on your student loan, it can be even trickier to navigate. By jotting everything down in a notebook and working out (and sticking to) weekly outgoings, you should feel a lot more comfortable about living solo.
Speak up for support
Even by doing all of the above, you may still feel like you’re struggling. Don’t suffer alone. Speak to your peers, your tutor, the SU – but if you feel like you need more support, get help by getting in touch with Student Support and Wellbeing who offer counselling services and signposting for external support.
We want you to have the time of your lives at the University of Wolverhampton and to graduate with opportunities at your fingertips – so don’t hesitate to make your voice heard if you’re finding living away from home difficult. We’ll do everything we can possibly do to get you over this hurdle and – fingers crossed – enjoying your newfound freedom. Good luck!
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