Thrive don’t survive at university

Last summer I wrote an article entitled ‘Four things I wish I knew before university’ – little did I know that my second year would be dramatically cut short and I would head home to spend months in a national lockdown like so many students. However, as they say, always expect the unexpected. With so much uncertainty and confusion now and for the future, uni life is set to look very different. Whether you’re joining as a Fresher or returning, there’s a lot to adjust to. Here are some thoughts to make the very best of your university experience in light of Covid-19.

1) Get into community

I literally cannot emphasise this one enough. Corona or no Corona, being in a community is genuinely one of the highlights of uni life. Although it will look scaled back, meeting and bonding with new people will enhance your student days like nothing else. A virtual freshers fair may seem daunting or a write-off, but joining societies is the best way to get connected. If you’re planning to join a church, have a hunt round the local churches (hello online church), chat to student pastors and fellow freshers so that you’re not doing it solo. Church is like a team sport – best done together.

2) Get ready for online study

This one is something I’m not massively excited for, and my uni already announced that my course is fully online. Lectures and seminars are part and parcel of university life. Leaning somewhat on the extroverted side myself, the thought of studying without people around me doesn’t exactly fill me with joy. That said, one of the perks is that you can pick and choose your hours to suit your lifestyle; as well as changing up your surroundings (a good coffee shop is an absolute go-to).

3) Prioritise your wellbeing

Looking after yourself both physically and mentally is important, but especially when circumstances are continually changing, or you’re in a new situation figuring out how to cope. Heading to uni for the first time is a pretty overwhelming time with a tangible mix of nerves, excitement, anticipation and expectations. Allow yourself to feel these emotions – they’re real and they’re valid. Make sure you take care of yourself: eat well, get regular exercise, reach out for help and try build up something of a routine. They’re small steps, but important nonetheless.

4) Maintain the big picture

Sure, Freshers week is going to be different without the classic partying, endless meeting of new people and figuring out where everything is on campus, potentially at 3am with a bunch of strangers. Yet this is not the whole picture of university life, and you’re guaranteed to make amazing memories regardless. Plus uni is three years, so long-term the pubs and big gatherings will return at some point. Make the most of every opportunity regardless and your experience will be all the better for it.

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