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21st March 2023

The misconceptions about starting life as a university student

There can be many anxieties and assumptions about moving to university. However, once you’ve taken the time to settle in, you may realise that such assumptions were false.
The misconceptions about starting life as a university student
Photo: Elyas Pasban @ Unsplash

Starting out at university can be a daunting experience for anyone, no matter the circumstances. For some, this may be their first time moving far away from home, friends and family, and maybe even to a different country. Having to brace for a plethora of new experiences and the thought of starting this new chapter in life can feel overwhelming and lead to many anxieties.

I know that I also felt the pressure to keep up not just academically but socially, which led to many different misconceptions about university. However, although beginning university can feel stressful, I felt that the transition was actually smoother than I thought it would be, and many of my negative perceptions about university ended up being completely false. 

One of the most intimidating feelings about getting started out is making friends, especially as many people are leaving behind family and friends back home. I felt immensely scared at feeling like I had to start from scratch when socialising. However, university is genuinely the best place to meet people – it is said a lot, but it really holds true. There are just so many people (thousands upon thousands) from all walks of life, that you are bound to find people who share similar interests, likes, and dislikes. Everyone finds themselves in the same boat and anxious to meet people, so it really is easy to strike up conversations and build new friendships. 

Another trouble of mine was feeling the pressure of constantly going out or having to drink. Though I enjoy going out, I felt that if I didn’t go out even when I did not feel like doing so, I would be in danger of missing out. After coming to university, I quickly realised that I completely wasn’t alone in my thoughts, with everyone around me also feeling the pressure to keep up socially.

I came to the conclusion that if I didn’t feel like wanting to drink or go clubbing I didn’t have to force myself to socialise, and that there were other ways to spend time with my new friends. Whilst I’ve enjoyed many nights out, I’ve also had many nights in watching movies with a good takeaway with my friends. This showed that we didn’t need to be drinking all the time to have fun and that there was no pressure to do so. 

Though my worries about socialising were dispelled after Freshers, I felt stress dawning over me at the fact that my academic studies at a university level were about to start. Having always been something of a perfectionist, I was terrified at the consequences of ‘failing’ and scared that I would not be able to get the help I needed to succeed in my studies. After my first lecture, I felt nervous at the thought of being surrounded by so many smart students, and that I may not be able to keep up.

However, once again, my worries turned out to be complete misconceptions. My professors, lecturers, and tutors all were very welcoming and thorough in their encouragement to reach out in case we needed any sort of help, no matter how small. I felt extremely supported when writing my first sets of essays for my modules, and able to make use of office hours and emailing whenever I needed to.

As the semester progressed and I had more essays assigned, the support around me helped me to be more confident. Even when I felt that I had not produced my best work, I was encouraged by my tutors who are willing to put the time in to show me where to improve. My worries and anxieties were definitely out of proportion at the start of the term!

Starting university is a special time, and whilst it can feel stressful, I have found that the most negative perceptions really turn out to be false, and that actually, transitioning into university, a new social life, and a new workload is not as scary as it may first appear to be. Instead of my negative misconceptions, I’ve found myself in a thriving community of like-minded students and felt many of my stresses melt away. Looking back, I laugh at just how stressed I felt about starting university, as now I know I have nothing to worry about after settling in.

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