Freshers can be the best week of your life. Non-stop parties, unrestrained independence and the beginnings of friendships that will last for the rest of your life. But freshers also comes with its drawbacks, and it’s perfectly ok to find it a challenging time. From illness to homesickness, and all the pressures that come with making new friends, you can’t expect everything to go to plan.
If it feels like your worst freshers nightmares are coming true, then don’t fear – they can happen to anyone and this is how to deal with them.
You don’t get on with your flatmates
Getting on with your flatmates seems like the most important thing in the world when you first head to uni. For months you’ve dreamed of hanging out with your flatmates every evening after uni in F.R.I.E.N.D.S-style harmony and becoming BFFs for life. When that vision doesn’t come true it can be crushing.
Just remember that you’ll build friendship groups in a variety of different ways at uni – from surrounding flats, on your course, in societies and sports teams. And if you don’t get on with your flatmates straight away, give it some time and you may warm to each other. Plus you’ll only be living with them for a year, which will fly by when you’re at uni, believe me.
If things do get really bad, most universities allow you to apply for a flat transfer. I did this in my third week of term, and other than the stress of carting all my belongings to another block, the process was surprisingly easy (and looking back as a recent graduate, it was a tiny blip in my time at university, not the end of the world as it seemed like at the time).
You don’t like your course
This happens a lot more than you would think. Many students take a chance when they come to uni by studying a subject they’ve never done before, and if it turns out it’s not the right one for you, there’s absolutely no reason to panic. Even if you’re well acquainted with the subject but the course is not quite what you thought it would be, don’t just struggle through the next three years because you think you have no way out.
If you decide early enough in term and you want to transfer to a very similar degree discipline, the university might let you do this quite easily. You might have some serious catching up to do, but the process should be relatively stress free. If you decide you want to change later on in term, or you want to transfer to a completely different subject area or university, you’ll have to take a year out. And again, this is perfectly ok. Getting a degree is not a race. You don’t want to be looking back on your graduation day wishing you’d taken a different course, so take the time to find what’s right for you.
You’re feeling homesick
While you might expect you’re going to walk off into a university sunset without even a glance back, the reality is you’re bound to feel homesick at some point. If you’ve lived at home for your entire life, making the transition to independence at university can be tough. Everyone goes through it at some point, and there’s definitely no need to panic and pack your bags.
Some people will try and impose some hard and fast rules like ‘You’re not supposed to go home during the first two months of term or else you’ll make it worse’, but don’t let anyone dictate what you can and can’t do. If you want to pop home at the weekend or invite your parents to come visit, do whatever makes you feel most comfortable, but don’t give up; I promise you one day homesickness will be a distant memory, it just takes a while to get through it.
You’ve got freshers flu
Being away from home when you’re ill is just the worst. All you want is for your mum to make you a bowl of soup and fuss around you, and instead you’ve got the noise from next door’s flat party and a mountain of empty beer cans to wade through just to reach the fridge.
Most freshers will go through flu at some point; it’s become an initiation into university life. With cold germs from various parts of the country all coming together in one small space, viruses spread like wildfire, so stock up on Lemsip and soothers while you have the chance. As hard as it might be to turn down all those flat parties and nights out, you’ll only get better if you rest, so eat well, drink lots of fluids and sleep. Lots of sleep.
You consume too much alcohol
Now I know this doesn’t seem like much of a nightmare right now, but believe me, ten hangovers deep with an essay due tomorrow morning, and it’ll definitely seem like a living hell. The first hurdle most freshers fall at is drinking in moderation. For the first time you’re let loose with alcohol, minus the wrath of your parents when you stumble in at 3am, so it’s easy to go overboard.
Just know your limits, drink lots of water before bed and take a night off every now and then. You can still go out and have a good time with your friends but believe me, hangovers aren’t cool.