Time flies. It is hard to believe that we have been in our life at university for nearly a month (or only two weeks if you are like me and the rest of the Canadian folks), which seemed like such an abstract concept during the summer. Now we have experienced many firsts, met a bunch of new people and have been to all our classes. I think it's safe to say that most of us are having a blast right now.
As amazing as university life is, there are moments where we feel like it is hard to deal with this brand new reality. Stress starts to set in as homework piles up and not all of us feel like we have made as many friends as we'd like to. Homesickness is difficult to deal with too and in these moments we couldn't help but think that maybe university isn't all it's cracked up to be.
It's okay to feel like this sometimes. It's natural – we have just left everything we have ever known behind, after all. Feeling down is never a sign of weakness; what's important is that we seek help when we need to. It isn't worth it to throw away all the chances to truly enjoy university life by not utilizing the help we can get.
1. There are so many people who can and want to help you.
During orientation, upper year students and even my professors always put an effort into letting us know all the resources on campus. From campus counseling, the writing support center and all the seminars they will host throughout the year on study tips, to your RAs – their purpose is to help you. They all choose to do the job they do right now because they want to and know how to make the transition easy for you. Chances are they have been in your shoes before too, so don't forget that even when everything seems helpless and you feel lonely, there are people out there who care so much about your well being.
2. Cry it out. It's healthy.
There is nothing to be ashamed about when you cry. Letting out your emotions once in a while is not only normal but also healthy. Telling yourself not to cry can only build up the stress you have for yourself and it's difficult to feel better that way. Allow yourself to take a moment, cry, then recover and pick yourself up. Maybe the obstacles in front of us are still difficult to clear through, but you will feel better and calmer after crying. We are not weak as long as we keep trying after crying.
3. Your parents would love to talk to you.
It's easy to feel homesick when we have been living with our parents for the past 18 years of our lives. When you find yourself in this situation, give your parents a call or a video chat. They have missed you too and having their child moving away for college definitely makes them lonely sometimes. Whether you are feeling stressed, out of place or just want to share about your new life, your family would love to listen and talk to you.
4. Maybe you haven't found your niche yet, but that doesn't mean you never will.
We all want to belong when we come to university and we want that to happen as quickly as possible. It is easy to feel lonely and out of place though, when the first weekend rolls around and people are going out in groups while you stay in your room, not knowing if you should take initiative and invite someone and go out too. Or maybe you are in class by yourself and seeing other people forming study groups together makes you wonder if you will find your people. Remember that there are tons of opportunities to get involved outside of class! With so many clubs of different interests on campus, you might just find some people who love the same thing as you do. Maybe you still feel lonely now because university just started, but there are so many people out there and eventually you can find your own people too.
5. Keeping yourself busy sometimes is beneficial.
This doesn't necessarily mean doing schoolwork. You can do laundry, go out for a walk, get some grocery shopping done or just explore the campus (or even the city your university is in). Do some chores that remind you of the high school days of being at home. Getting off the campus can be an escape and an opportunity to unwind when you need to. Some "normalcy" from your pre-college days is certainly helpful when you feel out of place here.
6. All kinds of health matter.
It isn't just your physical health you have to consider when you're away from home. There's also mental health, social health, environmental health, spiritual health and emotional health. Find resources on and/or off campus that will help you with these aspects of health, whether they're counseling, clubs, a nice studying spot or just some friends you can talk to. While you're exercising every day and eating healthy, remember to take care of yourself in these regards also.
7. Social exhaustion is a thing, and it's okay if you have it.
Not all of us are extroverts and that means some of us recharge by spending alone time. With orientation activities and such big classes, it is natural that something like this happens. Remember that we aren't always defined by how many friends we have and how social we are, it's just as valuable to spend some alone time relaxing, catching up on the latest streaming shows, etc. If you feel like at the moment your need of some rest exceeds the need of social situations, do what you have to do to recharge and feel ready for another day ahead of you.
8. It's okay and important to say no sometimes.
Maybe you really need that Saturday night to study for an exam even though some people have invited you to go out with them. Maybe you really want to go home for the weekend when club executives are asking for volunteers to help out with an event happening on the same day. We all have a limited amount of time every day and way more stuff we want to do than the time allows us. So it becomes important to realize which one you want or need to do more when you're presented with some choices. Remember that it's okay to say no sometimes and reschedule when there's something else you really have to take care of. Chances are the people who invite you to do something all know how busy you can be as a student and they will understand. This way, time management can become easier and you simply won't find yourself overwhelmed with stuff on your to-do list at some point.
9. What has happened and what will happen aren't the same.
In other words, you don't have to be defined with what is going on in your life right now. Four years of university is a very long time, after all. Who's to say you won't meet the most amazing people in a few months, even though you feel like it's hard to make friends right now? Can you really be so adamant that since 20 companies have already rejected your resume, there won't be a 21st that offers you your dream job? Try your best to get to where you want to be now, but don't forget that it takes time and that with enough hard work you can reach the destination you want to arrive at.
10. And remember that all of the sadness is okay.
Our emotions are a part of our life and sadness is a very real and normal aspect as well. Don't see your sadness as a weakness, whether it is homesickness, loneliness or stress. What matters is that you are willing to take a deep breath, give yourself a rest and then seek out the help that you know can help you with these emotions. Once you have gotten past these downs in your life, you will have the courage to face more that will come.
Adapting to university life is no easy task and there are many moments where we just aren't sure if we can deal with the difficulties anymore. The best thing about being a university student is that your school is there for you with so many resources and people out there who want you to be healthy as much as you do. Take these chances and remember that with each of these challenges, you will only get stronger and not the other way around.
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