The First Year
Starting university can be one of the most exciting times of your life, no matter what age you are when you start, yet it can also be one of the scariest. It can make you realize that you’re not ready for the true adult life, that you need a little guidance in it; or, for some people, it can make you blossom into adulthood and prove to yourself that this is where you belong.
The stresses that university brings, however, are something that not many people are prepared for; even if you are, it can be very different when it comes to actually living them.
At university most students get a student loan that is meant to last between 3–4 months, depending on when the next loan comes in. This is meant to be spent on accommodation (if living away from home), transport (mostly if commuting), food, and other things, such as materials for your uni course. This means that budgeting becomes highly important to make sure the money lasts.
If you’re not used to handling or budgeting money yourself, it can be difficult to get used to and can take a while to get the hang of. Whether you’re living in halls or commuting, both can be extremely expensive and can end up taking a large amount of the loan away from you before you even start paying for other expenses. Seeing your money going down in your account can cause a lot of stress when you think about all of the materials and transport you still need to pay for to get through the semester.
There are ways to handle this, though. Try to make a weekly or monthly budget of what you need to spend, what you’d like to spend, and what you want to put into savings. For example, if you set aside a certain amount of money for your food for the month, you can budget the rest, and then you should put whatever you have left into savings. You’ll have a nice steady amount of savings in no time, and the stress of having little to no money may be reduced at least slightly.
If you don’t have any money left to put into savings at the end of a month, then try not to panic too much. You’re not alone, and there are many students who are in the same boat. Don’t be afraid to tell someone that you’re struggling, such as lecturers or family. Often people who can help in any way will. Asking for help is never something to be ashamed of.
2. Commuting/Living Away
Another huge source of stress when you go to university is living away from home or having a long distance commute. I, for example, commute from Sheffield to Derby on a daily basis, which doesn’t take too much time, but it can be stressful because I need to make sure I’m on the right train, or else I could end up in London. Starting out commuting can be stressful since you might not know where to go or what transport to use, and going to a different city in itself can be extremely nerve-wracking. Yet the more you do it, the more confident it can be. Yes, it’s stressful starting out, but as your confidence and independence grows, you will be able to commute with little to no issues as you continue on your course.
Some students also decide to move to different cities to go to university — some close to home, others not so close. I know people who live close to home and people who live in cities far away from their home, and I can tell it’s definitely not easy. Living on your own for the first time can be scary and can take a while to get used to. There’s a lot of stress that comes with looking after yourself. Just being on your own in general can be very weird to get used to. From what I can tell, this is still an ongoing struggle. It’s hard to get used to for most people, and the loneliness of living away from home can be tough to deal with at times.
The stress of living away is something that most people deal with, though, so no matter how you’re feeling, know that there are probably other students around you who feel exactly the same. Loneliness can be hard to deal with and can eat you up, but no doubt your friends and family will only ever be a call away if you need them. Keep going with it if you feel it is for you; be proud of how amazing you’re doing and how strong you are to live away from home. Remember that you’ll never be alone, and never be afraid to speak out if you can’t handle it. Living away for university isn’t for everyone, and you shouldn’t feel ashamed of yourself if it isn’t for you. It’s never too late to change your mind.
3. University Work
The difference in work from A Levels to university can be a shock to your system. It varies from whatever course you’re doing also, so it can be very different for most students. The deadlines are a lot closer together, the workload can be a lot more than expected since some courses are highly coursework based, and doing a university exam can be frightening because you aren’t sure how they’re going to look or whether they’ll work any different than the A Level exams.
There are so many stresses when it comes to university work, but you can’t let it eat you up. Your mental health is so important when it comes to work stresses, and it’s much more important to calm yourself and ask for help than to struggle by yourself. No doubt, if you’re struggling, most others in your class will be too. You’re not alone in it, and if you start to stress about work, then just take a step back, breathe, and try to do something else for a bit to take your mind off the stress. Maybe make a cup of tea or read a book — anything to relax you for 10 minutes — and then go back to the work. You’ll have relaxed yourself and be able to go back with a calm mind, and you’ll probably get even more work done.
It can be hard to manage your time between everything, and it can be a large amount of stress to do so, but overall it’s more important to make sure you yourself are okay. If you get too worked up, you’ll get nothing done anyway because you may shut down and want to do nothing.
4. General University
University is a new experience for most people, and it can be stressful; but, hopefully, it will be one of the most rewarding times of your life. You learn skills of being an adult, how to manage time and money, and will hopefully become a better person for it. Stresses will come and go — there’s no doubt about that — but never be ashamed of asking for help if you need it. Whether it’s asking for help from a friend, a lecturer, or someone else around you, I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to help you.
Enjoy your time at university and try not to let the stresses ruin your experience. Be yourself, be confident, and don’t let anything get in your way of achieving what you want in life. Your mental health is more important than anything, so make sure to always take time for yourself. You are your own priority. Stay strong, and you can handle anything.