Being yourself whilst finding yourself

A new life at University

30 January 2024
University Life

by Cameron Irons

It is no secret that starting a new life at university can be daunting for many. You might be leaving your hometown for the first time in 18 years. You might be leaving your best friends, your family, your familiarity, and your comfort. That is scary, but equally, that is the exciting beauty of life. This is the next chapter. This is arguably the best chapter in your story so far. Crucially, you get to completely write this chapter yourself.

You will quickly learn there is little to no judgment here – despite common belief. There is freedom like you have never experienced before. You have space to be creative, to grow, to rapidly develop and expose yourself to a whole new realm of opportunities. To put you at ease, there are thousands of people around you in the exact same position. Nobody really knows who they are and what they are doing at the start – so learn to just go with it. It is what it is.

If you are anything like me, you will think you have it all figured out. How wrong was I? I thought I was brilliant at socialising and making friends because of my school circle, but that turned out to be a bigger challenge than anticipated, others found it much easier, and that is okay. I considered myself an extrovert, but it turned out I was a little more awkward around new people, and that is okay. I ultimately thought I had something to prove, and again, that is simply not the case.

You have made it to this stage, and for that, you should be genuinely proud of yourself. It is no easy graft getting to university. That being said, the hard work starts now. It is a very worthwhile journey though. Be in no doubt you will stumble across stressful periods, upsetting periods, and overwhelming periods. Read what our President has to say about it –  A message from your DUSA president.

Nevertheless, there is no doubt you will have some of the most joyous, most uplifting, most crazy and most heart-warming moments in your life here. You might be nervous and overthinking it now but close your eyes and imagine yourself crossing that Caird Hall stage and collecting your degree certificate with pride and fulfilment. That is no pipedream, that is going to happen.

There are some important things to bear in mind as you start your student journey. Let me list them off in a simple fashion:

1. Do not shy away from judgment should it come your way, it is often unavoidable. In the end, nobody cares. Focus on you.

2. If you find yourself isolating in your room, think about the point above, and put yourself out there. It can be uncomfortable at the start, and difficult, but it can change everything.

3. Your mental well-being is so important. Look after your mind, not just your body. People around you, including student services, want nothing more than for you to speak up and seek support. There is no shame in it. We all suffer in some way and that should be normalised.

4. Whilst you are here to study, make sure to live it up. Strike your balance, & not that of the ‘model’ student. Everyone is different.

5. Embrace friendships and relationships. Some will come and go; others will be for life. Just remember that people are the most important factor in your student journey. People are your experience.

6. University is all about extra-curricular opportunities for a reason. Try out new hobbies, and join some societies and sports clubs. It does enhance your entire student life in so many ways. Do not worry about time constraints, you will find the time if you want to find it

7. Be a good person. Your actions and your treatment of others have far more impact than you think. It is better to make those actions and interactions positive. It will serve you well.

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