It is coming up to the time of year when people in the UK are going to University. They are commonly called Fresher’s.
There is the time period before official university begins and this is known as Fresher’s week. Basically, this involves a lot of drinking and partying.
In 2005 I was a Fresher at Nottingham Trent University where I would be starting my BA in Economics. Prior to starting I was very excited, I put all of my hopes at happiness in a fresh start at Nottingham.
I remember some teachers at sixth form telling us that University would be the ‘making of you’ and that ‘it will be the best years of your life’.
So from the go there was a lot of pressure.
Let me set you the scene of my life at this point. I was 18 and incredibly unhappy, I felt a total lack of respect from the world and didn’t feel like the people around me wanted to be my friend. I foolishly believed that the problems in my head (although I didn’t know about problems in my head at this point) where due to external things – i.e. the people around me. I believed that my friends were the problem and that by getting ‘new’ friends would solve all my worries.
How wrong was I!
After going out nearly every night for weeks and weeks and trying to be someone I slowly realised that I was not. It slowly sank in that a) I was never going to be popular b) I was never going to be happy and c) it would always be this way.
The first thing I would like to point out to you is that – nothing is permanent. If I would have known that at the time then my life would have been a whole lot easier.
So as reality sank in I realised I was not the life and soul of the party guy I so badly wanted to be.
For some students this will be starting in the next few weeks here in England. There will be some students who are seeking a better life and who are going to maybe have a real wake up call. The way I dealt with the wake up call was to drink. Not ideal I know. But I was running away from my problems which is fine – until you can run no more.
Universities are business and they sell you a dream, sixth form and colleges don’t always help and they probably get rewarded for sending students to University, or it makes their figures look better.
The bottom line is, if you are unhappy that unhappiness is within you. It’s not going to change by moving cities, house or friendship circles. That’s my experience. If you go to University with your eyes wide open and with an element of self-awareness then a new beginning can be of significant benefit. My point is that my simply changing things doesn’t eradicate one’s problems, they are within and therefore need to be addressed from within.
I know many students who have really thrived in University and I have known others that didn’t – far less I must admit. My take is that those who thrived at University would have probably thrived wherever they went, even if they stayed at home and got a job.
If you are a student and you do find yourself struggling with Uni life or the course then I would certainly suggest speaking to the student services that are available – often there are really good student counselling services. My mistake was that I didn’t and in the end I moved universities (thinking that would work) and when that didn’t I left University all together. Leaving with no degree but a lot of debt. Not ideal.
If things are not working out for you in University it doesn’t mean that they never will. University is such a significant time in one’s life, there are so many pressures put on you that without the right frame of mind can be pretty serious.
If you are in a relatively good place then I feel University could be a truly magical time and I don’t want you to think I’m against it. I just know how hard it was for me. There is so much on offer if you are in a good place mentally. If you are not I feel it can be really hard.
In the end I’m quite happy that things didn’t work out at University but I wouldn’t advise the route I took. Enjoying life at University and fulfilling one’s dreams is far better. But if it doesn’t work out then it’s not the end.
If you find you are really struggling to cope I would suggest the Samaritans. The Samaritans are a non judgemental and confidential charity who offer emotional support 24/7. They can be called on 116 123 or emailed [email protected]
I wish you all the best on your new venture.