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Adjusting to University Life

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In the coming weeks, tens of thousands of young people will be starting university for the first time. For many this will mean leaving the comfort of their own homes and the security of their parents to head out alone into the wide world.

And while some may take to their new lives like ducks to water, it will not be plain sailing for everyone.

Starting university can be a huge culture shock, bringing with it many unexpected feelings and emotions and loneliness and isolation are not uncommon. In fact, many students may find themselves wondering if they have made a mistake, but in all likelihood these feelings will pass as they become more integrated into campus life.

University girl

Culture Shock

After the initial rush and exhilaration of Fresher’s Week, reality can start to set in as students realise just how many adjustments they need to make. Sharing living areas, meeting people from different backgrounds and cultures, organising chores, arranging medical care and doing the shopping can all seem daunting at first, especially where routine tasks were taken for granted at home.


Although leaving home can potentially be a period of positive change, it will inevitably bring about anxiety and separation issues. As well as focussing on the next chapter in their education, young people will also have to rework their relationships with parents.


When students go home they often make comparisons between their old life and their new university culture and strong feelings of homesickness can often emerge. While university may not yet feel like home, students may also feel strange in their own homes – which may seem less familiar than they once were, especially if changes have happened in their absence.

University students

Settling in

Expect a challenge

It’s important for students to remember that everyone is in the same boat, no matter how confident and at ease they seem. Anxiety is normal and not everyone can expect to make lifelong friends in the first semester. Students can maximise their chances of making friends though by getting involved in clubs and groups they know they will enjoy. Talking about how they feel with peers, student support staff or family members can also help put some of the worries into perspective.

Be organised

Life at university demands a certain level of organisation, particularly as students will be responsible for a lot more than they were at home. Organising tasks and dividing time accordingly will help them to make sure enough time is devoted to academic work, as well as allowing for socialising and household chores and errands.

Initial adjustment

After the initial shock is over and students settle in to their new lives, they may get a burst of confidence and sense of well-being having successfully dealt with the new challenges that come their way.

Acceptance and integration

Most students will begin to feel part of a new community as they become more integrated with university life by making friends, getting to know the area and building history with new people.






About Linda Ram

About Linda Ram

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