Independence vs. loneliness at university

Packing your life into suitcases, waving goodbye to your childhood bedroom, and feeling just a little bit lost when you parents leave you in a new building, a new city, with new people. This will definitely sound familiar to the majority of you. Fast forward through the first few weeks of uni; you’ve unpacked, the (perhaps drunken) antics of fresher’s week have worn off, and your studying officially begins. And all of a sudden, it may start to hit home that uni isn’t a summer camp and you have to survive alone, without the usual cocoon of friends and family. So, are you feeling completely free and independent, or are you dreading the thought of being by yourself? 


By the time mid-November of the first semester rolls around, some people find that they actually don’t know their flatmates too well, which can be one of the initial causes of feeling lonely. You might have been on nights out with them, but this doesn’t necessarily show people’s true personalities, and obviously leaves you feeling isolated in the day time. If you’re not much of a party-goer, then these feelings of loneliness can be made even worse. One thing’s for sure: you don’t have to force yourself into social situations that you’re not comfortable with, for example the drinking culture that so many students embrace. Always remain true to yourself, and don’t feel like you have to do things out of your comfort zone just to fit in with your flatmates. My flatmates and I found it best to do ‘boring’ things together, to get a chance to hang out and talk about everything and anything. For example, a quick text to flatmates such as “I’m going to cook lunch in a minute if anyone wants to join me?” or “I need to do a food shop, does anyone want to come with me?” gets everyone involved in the day-to-day stuff. Doing chores alongside relatively new people allows you to break the ice and talk about a variety of things whilst you work, giving conversations a much more relaxed atmosphere. Your flatmates may be just as shy, so asking them to accompany you will make them feel really included. Who knows, you might just make your next best friend whilst taking a trip to Tesco…

Living as a certified adult:

Coping without your parents can also be an intimidating thought. Thoughts such as “who will wash my clothes?”, “who’s going to look after me when I’m ill?” and, “will I ever eat a home cooked roast dinner again?” are all completely valid and understandable. However, this is just the chance you need to prove to yourself that you’re capable of adult life (a fresh start if you want). Zero parental supervision in halls is your first step to freedom, and in all honesty, there’s a big difference between living with loneliness and living with independence. It all depends on your own perception, and also whether you’re a glass-half-full or half-empty type of person. Now is your chance to learn everything that your parents might do for you back home. Of course you’re 18 (or older) and you can buy alcohol, lottery tickets, and go to 18 rated films, but can you work a tumble drier? Now’s your chance to learn! Embrace the independence of doing a weekly shop on a budget, washing, drying and ironing your own clothes, and waking up on time in the mornings without your mum shouting up the stairs. Obviously, domestic uni life can be seen as a chance to eat nothing but pizza and go to bed whenever you like (and although that sounds good for a day or two), why not prove the stereotype wrong? You’ll be able to impress yourself and your family back home by generally adult-ing in the way that they taught you. You won’t only make your parents proud, but you’ll impress yourself with how much you can manage, and it will definitely take your mind off being by yourself and promote a more positive mindset. 

New places, new things:

On the other hand, the idea of living in a new city may be one of the most daunting prospects to you personally. In this case, it may be best to dedicate a day or two at the beginning of the year to inviting your housemates out with you, so you can just wander together around the city. It’s another ice breaker really, but it will help you map out the city in your own mind, and you’ll get to know the roads and shops quicker. When you begin to familiarise yourself, you’ll feel more at home and it won’t be so intimidating. Taking the time to find your favourite clothing or tech shops, along with the best budget supermarkets will stand you in good stead when you need to buy something at the last minute. No more wandering around aimlessly for you in the future when you need to visit a different shop!

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Molly Hare

Molly Hare // Ex Magazine Editor // PR and Journalism student at Leeds Beckett // Book worm, cocktail connoisseur, gherkin fanatic //

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