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You made it to university. The worst is over. But that doesn't make the daunting step of moving to a completely new environment any less stressful. It can make it easy to retreat into a shell and watch as the experience flies by. But, as I am sure you will start to figure out along the way, university is what you make of it. So, if you are feeling anxious about how to cope in this next chapter, here are a few suggestions that might help reassure and encourage you to make the most of your once in a lifetime opportunity.
Seize every opportunity you can and try new things
The university lifestyle is known for being extremely independent, and this rings true in both the academic and social side. Chances to meet new people and try new things will not necessarily be handed to you, so put yourself out there and open yourself up to every new experience you feel comfortable with. Try out for or approach the societies you are most interested in. Raise your hand and ask questions in seminars. Make an effort to socialise with your housemates. Once you pass the initial nervousness of a new situation, you will be surprised as to how much your confidence will build and how many new relationships you may form.
Do something for yourself
This is possibly the best piece of advice I received as a fresher. Doing something, just one small thing, for yourself can lead to a whole new world of possibilities. Join a society even if no one you know will go with you. Sit next to that person sitting alone in the lecture hall and say ‘hello’. Go to the city centre and explore it by yourself. Try a completely new subject as a ‘wild’ module. It may take a lot of courage but, by doing something for yourself, you will not only become more independent; but also open up to discovering and exploring your own interests free from external influences.
For some people, this can seem really hard. But you have to remember that everyone in your classes and accommodation will be in the same boat. In fact, they are probably feeling very similar anxieties. Why not be the one to make the first move? Once you break the ice, you will have the chance to get to know so many new and interesting people.
Social anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of, but do not let it hold you back. Conjuring the strength to try something new, saying yes to something, or even starting just one conversation could set in motion a lifetime of wonderful experiences and memories. After all, the person you spoke to in your first lecture could become a lifelong friend. That society you joined could blossom into a new hobby. The new subject you explored could become a career.
University is what you make of it. You worked hard to be here, so don’t hesitate to squeeze every last opportunity out of it that you can.