Nearly a third of students (32%) around the world admit to loneliness during their time at university with UK students most likely – 37% – to consider dropping out compared to their worldwide counterparts.
Moving out can be lonely. Especially for students. Moving to another city where everything is different will immediately put you out of your comfort zone. Add onto that the pressure of meeting new people and having to live with a bunch of people your own age, all with different views and opinions. You must fend for yourself with regards to money, shopping, cooking, socialising and so on. Then throw into the mix the coursework and exam pressure. You must grow up pretty quickly.
Some people thrive at University, others find it a challenge. The assumption is that everyone at University will succeed, get good results and a good job. But what if this doesn’t work out? What if you cannot afford to live on a weekly basis? How do you juggle studying and a part time job? What if you do not fit in? What if you already have health and mental health issues? Where do you turn?
Here are a few tips to nip loneliness in the bud.
1. The 'Rents' aka Your Parents! Your parents should understand you more than anyone else. They do not want to see you struggle or fail. Communication is key to everything. Even if they didn’t “seem to care” when you lived at home. That is just a teenager’s thoughts. Believe me, parents care about their kids more than anything in the world and will want to be there for you. It can be hard to admit that you are struggling, especially if they are supporting you financially, but they care more about your happiness than your grades. Skype or FaceTime beats a text or WhatsApp message and they'll love to hear from you, as I bet they are missing you as well.
You're old friends might be scattered around the country or the world having their own adventures, and you may not want to admit your have a less than Instagram worthy uni experience, but they might be going through the same things as you. Don't always believe what they wrote on their last social media post, call them and chat about the real stuff! Your new friends are also adjusting to this new life, open up to them and you might find you are going through the same things and help each other.
Universities recognise that students will go through various feelings when at university. They will have student support advisors, mental health advisors providing free therapy and drop-ins. Many also have a nightline to provide support throughout the night. Even if they do not offer a service you feel relates to you the Student Union will have advisors. Your GP will also be able to help, do not feel like you are wasting their time. Anxiety, depression, body image, bullying to name a few are real issues that are taken seriously today. There is support out there and this is a great article to keep to hand.
4. Join a Society or Charity Meeting people that have similar interests can really bring one out of oneself. Try volunteering at a charity to give you a new perspective. Getting involved with the college charity is highly rewarding, and helping others is the key to happiness. Write down all the positive things in your life, and put it somewhere you will see it everyday. Remembering the kind deeds and words of others can really help to pull you out of the downward spiral.
5. Make Health a Priority
There is growing evidence that loneliness is bad for our health, and feeling lonely also leads to unhealthy behaviour. If you’re lonely, you’re more likely to smoke and drink, less likely to eat vegetables, less likely to take physical exercise. Also getting enough sleep is important to stop feeling overwhelmed. So have early nights, learn to cook some cheap and easy healthy meals, and go out for a walk or join a fitness class. There are usually really good student deals, and tons of uni societies for all sorts of sports. You may even find new friends who also share your love for anything from rock climbing to zumba.
The journey of University life is exciting, embrace it fully, enjoy every second. Before you know it, you will be out there in full time employment. Maybe a parent one day. This brings a new set of challenges and experiences. But that is a story for another day! You can also download a FREE student checklist here to help you get organised and feel less stressed about moving to university.
Do you have any tips you recommend to friends about you university? Maybe which are the best clubs to join or activities to do in the city? Add them as a tip in the RelocateGuru App to help others have a great experience and feel like they belong!