Everyone has expectations of their uni experience. Whether they’re going to go out every night of Freshers or get firsts in every assignment – I was no different. I thought I’d constantly be surrounded by people; coffee dates, group meetings, film nights in, alcohol nights out. What a shock I had when the excitement of a new city and new people fizzled out.
I was never particularly popular at school or sixth form. While I am by no means saying that I thought uni would be the crowning of a new, higher social status, I didn’t expect to spend a whole day not seeing another human being. In retrospect, maybe I needed days like that, watching tv and chilling in bed, to ground me again – reminding myself to slow down and recuperate.
Learning to be happy in your own company is the most important thing you can do.
I always got the impression that the people I grew up with were loving uni, flicking through Snapchat stories of their fourth night out that week! After speaking to a few though, it occurred to me that what you see on Snapchat, Instagram, any social media is purely just a face. People publish the happiest parts of their lives, the bits they want you to see in order to look the most impressive. You don’t get to see them sitting at 4am stressing over assignment or crying to their friend about the person who broke their heart.
People publish the bits they want you to see, don’t believe everything you see on Snapchat.
As a very active person (dancer, skier, gymnast, you get the drift!), I expected societies/sports to be a big part of my university experience. I thought that my dance friends would be my best friends, socials all the time, practicing for competitions and shows. Having missed the first social due to the dreaded freshers flu, I then struggled to find my feet and make friends. The thing I was most excited for turned into my worst nightmare. Until one day I chatted to another girl having stood together in silence for weeks, and suddenly everything felt like it might be okay.
Say hi, they’re probably just as nervous.
Family is, hands down, the most important thing in my life. So being 2 hours away from them for weeks on end is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. Silly things are what gets you through; sitting on the phone with my brother drinking milkshakes and pretending we’re together or receiving a parcel containing one of the Welsh cakes my mom baked and I really fancied.
Flying the nest is okay, they’ll always be there.
However, all the days I sat feeling lonely have only made me realise that I am surrounded by people – specifically those who matter the most. Be it the ‘Are you okay?’ texts or the 2am-sitting-in-the-kitchen conversations or even the cups of tea between lectures.
You’re only as lonely as you tell yourself you are, people do care.
At the end of the day, everyone is simply a phone call away. Technology today allows us to constantly be in touch (chatting, texting, sending ugly selfies) and that means we forget to actually pick up the phone. Some of my best evenings have been spent on a group video call with my best friends – although we’re hundreds of miles from each other, we’re still together.
Sometimes we forget how important it is sometimes just to be able to hear the voice of someone you miss.
Personally, I will always believe that the worst thing to happen in the 21st century is the gradual death of post, letter writing and sending cards. So at uni, one of my oldest friends and I started writing letters. Generally catching up, spilling all the newest gossip and taking time out of our busy lives to simply keep in touch. I can genuinely say that, having cried when I received the first one because it was exactly what I needed to read that day, letter-days are the absolute best days.
Don’t be scared to say ‘I miss you’.
At a pres this week, I looked round the room and saw strangers I’d found myself standing in standing in the same, cramped room as time and time again. But I saw them in a new light. It occurred to me that they had all, most likely, felt the same. Yet, they were all still here, having fun, socialising – the exact same thing I was doing. Everyone misses their families, everyone feels small in a new city and its okay.
You’re not alone.