- It will take time to make friends.
I am generally a friendly and outgoing person, so making friends comes naturally to me. In school and college, I always had a big group of friends, and that is what I expected would happen immediately at university too. The first few days at Uni, I spoke to everyone and we exchanged our Instagram and Snapchat accounts. I even made some friends who I thought were keepers but as the weeks went by, I slowly discovered I did not have much in common with these people and I was hanging out with them just for the sake of it, especially because I did not want to feel lonely. The more I hung out with these ‘friends’, the more I felt like someone else. I wasn’t my true self around them. I was compromising the person I really was and this was a crime. It wasn’t until second semester that I made true friends. I wish I knew it would take a while to make friends because this way I wouldn’t have forced myself to be with people and do things that made me feel unhappy and uncomfortable in my own skin.
- It’s okay not to be part of the drinking culture.
This is something I really struggled with at the start of Uni as I don’t drink. There are two reasons why I don’t drink: one of them being the negative effects it can have on one’s life, which I unfortunately saw up-close and personal, and the second being my religion. As a Muslim, I abide by the rules which prohibit us from drinking, and I do so happily, as my Religion is something which is not only important to me, but is also a way of achieving mental peace in this fast paced world. So at Uni, I was suddenly surrounded by the drinking culture, where everyone was going to pubs, drinking at parties and getting ‘smashed’ on the weekends (and week days come to think of it). Now, if you are into this, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it as long as it is all for a good time! However, if this way of life is not your cup of tea, then this is where things can get ugly. At the start of University, I was hanging out with certain people who did not understand this. It came as a shock to them, how at the age of 20 I still had never had a drink. Their disbelief sprung from ignorance. They thought it was either cultural brainwashing or religious ‘restrictions’ due to which I held back. This was not, and still isn’t the case. I simply was not interested and didn’t feel the need to succumb to peer pressure. However, I was still made to feel like I was an outcast and even started to feel like a loser and started to question my own morals. My case may have been extreme, but it does get difficult to be the odd one out in these situations, and the last thing one should do is question their own morals and beliefs, as it only makes you stronger when you stand by them, even when others around you ridicule you, or they aren’t strong enough to be their own person.
- Its okay to feel scared about what will come next.
Before I started University, my life had been a little up and down. There was very little stability and I had moved 7 houses in 2 years. So University seemed like the ultimate destination for me, that once I got into Uni and moved out, everything else would sort itself out. It was a huge relief when I got into Queen Mary, all those unstable years, and a horrible A-level experience came to an end. I had chosen a degree which I was interested in and I knew what I wanted to do after I graduated and how to get there. However, once I got in and started classes, I remember sitting in Ground Cafe one afternoon and just thinking to myself: ‘now what?’. It was a strange feeling, and a feeling which alarmed me as my lectures were going great and I was enjoying my course. The feeling did die down eventually, but I think it was natural to feel that way. Big changes can make you feel overwhelmed, and only time can sort everything out and give you a feeling of stability and contentment as you adjust to new situations.
- First impressions aren’t everything.
It is funny how our whole lives we hear that a first impression is the last impression, but I don’t believe in it. Everyone has a different personality, some are shy and can come off as not interested in talking to you. Some can be so outgoing and outspoken that they could even intimidate you. However, the more time you spend with people and the more you get to know them, they can surprise you with what is inside of them! It is even more beautiful when someone starts to open up to you and reveal their true colours over time, rather than exploding with the full force of their personality the first time you meet them! Two of my closets friends now are girls who I didn’t even speak much to in the first couple of months at Uni!
- Make sure you love what you study.
Now, fortunately this is something I did not personally experience. But this was something a few of my friend went through. You usually find out if you are really enjoying your course in the first few weeks, but if you do not enjoy it, take steps towards changing your course when there still is time as you do not want to waste a year of Uni, or be stuck studying something your heart isn’t into for the next three years…