I must have visited over nearly ten universities, from St. Andrews down to Cardiff and everywhere in between. When I decided on my favourite university, I thought that was it. When my place was confirmed on results day, I didn’t think about how difficult it would be moving away from home, meeting new people, learning how to cook, wash clothes and iron (I still haven’t quite cracked the last one three years on!).
Moving away from home was a simple and easy decision for me at the time, I wanted to become independent and stand on my own two feet. I didn’t even apply to universities close to home, despite there being a few good options for me, I really felt I needed to move away, plus that’s what everyone does right?
Well not necessarily…
Turns out plenty of people stay in their home city or town for university, mostly home birds or even for financial reasons, I realise now that this is a totally viable option, but not one I thought was perhaps for me.
So the big day came – I was moving to university. I’d said my (very) teary goodbyes to my family, friends and boyfriend, packed my things in the car and drove with my parents to my halls. Full of excitement, nerves and apprehension.
I was allocated accommodation in a good area of the city and the halls were within walking distance of Tesco and Sainsbury’s (great for those late-night chocolate cravings!). My campus was just a 15-minute walk away and the buildings just blew me away. I was living the dream.
Although the accommodation itself was great my flatmates were not necessarily what I was expecting, we seem to be all very different. I did make friends with the girls in the flat next door although I did feel like I was intruding on their flat as they all got on so well, I didn’t like to pester them too often. My course mates lived in accommodation a 40-minute walk away, so It made it a bit more difficult to pop round for a cuppa!
After my first visit home about six weeks into term, I realised how much I missed it. Going home at Christmas and seeing how much my friends were loving their university experience also made me realise that I wasn’t that happy at all.
Making the Most of Your Situation
Being away from home for the first time is quite an overwhelming experience, but it can also be the best time of your life if you make the most of it. Before thinking about leaving university, there are many ways to try to improve your situation!
For me, this meant that I joined the dance society, I have always enjoyed it and found it a great way to meet people. Societies and clubs are filled with so many other students outside of your course and your flat, they don’t always involve drinking or nights out either. There are even societies that specifically have sober socials so those who don’t like nights out can meet people in a way they too can enjoy if a typical night out isn’t your usual go-to entertainment!
Speaking to a member of staff at the university is really helpful too – this could be a personal tutor, someone from the Student Advice Centre or even your lecturer. Anyone you feel comfortable speaking to and getting advice from. They will be able to help you or at least point you in the direction of someone who can. It is important to realise there are these kinds of opportunities out there to receive advice and support from inside your own university.
If it’s your accommodation that’s getting you down, you can always find out If it could be possible to move to a different flat or room. Alternatively, if your home isn’t far away from your campus and has great transport links then you could try commuting if this could make you happier. Then again, you could have a chat with your flatmates about what is bothering you and hopefully, any issues can be sorted, they may be even able to offer you further advice and support as well.
The most important thing is talking to people, whether this is friends, family, or staff at the university. Keeping these feelings to yourself won’t help you resolve them, it can have a serious negative effect on your uni experience and of course is not great for your mental wellbeing.
Bowing Out of University (temporarily)
I never expected to be the person to drop out of university. I didn’t think many people did, but this wasn’t necessarily again true.
I got in contact with a university near home and they accepted me onto my course. After six months away from home, I moved back and worked in a café until I could start at my new university. This was the best decision I’ve ever made.
This does not mean I regret moving away, I learned a lot and I grew up too, I wouldn’t change a thing, but it was 100% the right decision to come home.
I’m about to start my third year at my home university and I have had the BEST time. I am truly experiencing the university life I wanted so it was all worth it!
This doesn’t mean however that you won’t love moving away, a lot of people love it and never want to move back to their hometown. But if you don’t enjoy moving far from home, you don’t have to, there are usually other options. There is also the option to still move into student accommodation in your hometown, this can help you meet people and gain some independence while remaining close to your family.
In terms of dropping out of university, this isn’t inevitably a bad choice. When I moved to my new university, I was worried that I would feel like a grandma since I was slightly older than everyone else who came directly from A levels to university. There are PLENTY of people who took one, even two, years out before deciding on which university to go to, or if they were going to go at all. People all go at different times of their lives and all for different reasons, so don’t let this put you off either.
Moving away from home can be a great expereince and help develeop your confidence even further espeically if youre going ot be thinking about graduate jobs abroad. Don’t rush into deciding about university but do take the risk of moving away if you feel like you’re up for it. It’s a pretty big deal so don’t feel pressure, just do what makes you happy!