Manchester Graduate Shares Hacks For Navigating First Year University Struggles

A Public Relations & Marketing graduate and Manchester Young Professionals member shares her unique and insightful perspective on the challenges faced by young people across the country when they enter university life.

With over 2,700,000 undergraduate students set to attend university for the first time this September, many are about the embark on the enormous step of moving away from home for the very first time. Whilst it’s an experience filled with excitement, it can also be accompanied by feelings of overwhelm and anxiety.

These feelings were all too real Chloe Pryce, when she moved from France to start a new life in Manchester for university.

“Moving to university was both an exciting and nerve-wracking experience. Leaving my familiar surroundings to start a new life in a new city and new country was terrifying, but I needed to leave my comfort zone in order to build my confidence and independence. Since Manchester is renowned for being a hub for networking opportunities that would kick-start my career – I knew it was the right step for me.”

Chloe shares her experience and top tips for new first-year students doing the same, providing guidance on how to navigate this significant transition with confidence.

A home away from home in student accommodation

With more than half of new undergraduates opting to live in university or private sector halls, students are eager to move out to embrace their new lives.

Moving into student accommodation plays a crucial role in embarking on a journey of self-discovery and independence, but many can find moving in with strangers a lot to process.

“Moving into halls is a huge transition, so it’s normal to feel nervous. But it’s important to remember that everyone is in the same situation and probably feeling the exact same.” Chloe added.

Although it might seem daunting, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to build new connections is the best thing you can do. Resist the urge to stay in your bedroom and make the most of spending time in communal areas. When you are in your bedroom, keep your door open as when other housemates arrive they’ll be more inclined to pop in and say hello and start a conversation.”

“If you don’t instantly form connections with your flatmates, that’s perfectly okay. There are hundreds of opportunities to make friends outside your accommodation whilst at university.”

Navigating homesickness

Whilst newfound independence is exciting, research has found that homesickness typically affects 50 to 70% of students during their first few months at university.

Chloe added, “You always hear that university will be the best years of your life, but it’s important to remember that it’s normal to experience highs and lows. Being so far away from home, I inevitably started to miss the people and the surroundings that had been so familiar to me for many years. I began to question whether I had made the right decision by moving.”

Homesickness is a natural and an understandable response to moving away from home for the first time, it can happen at any time throughout a student’s time at university. Whilst symptoms of homesickness tend to vary from person to person, students may experience a change in their personality, face feelings of sadness, worry and stress, or have a difficult time engaging in activities.

“Homesickness can be overpowering as you’ve never felt this way before and might not know how to deal with it,” Chloe explained.

“Joining societies and networking events which aligned with my passions was a great way that helped combat my feelings of homesickness. It allowed me to create friendships with like-minded people.”

“In my third week, I joined a networking event hosted by Manchester Young Professionals and this played a pivotal role in my journey of settling into a new city. Being surrounded by people who enjoyed the same things as me and felt the same way instantly made me feel more at home.”

Budgeting for success

One of the most crucial skills you’ll develop during your time at university is effective financial planning. It’s no secret that students often have limited disposable income and with 91% of students admitting to being worried about the rising cost of living, it’s important to know how to make the most of your money whilst still having a great time.

Chloe explains, “Start by creating a realistic budget that outlines your monthly expenses, including rent, bills, groceries, and other necessities. Once you have a clear picture of your financial responsibilities, set aside a portion of your budget for entertainment and social activities. By doing this, you’ll make sure that you can enjoy your university experience without constantly worrying about money.”

“Make sure to take advantage of student discounts and deals. Many retailers, restaurants, and entertainment venues offer special pricing for students. Once I was able to get over 50% off a meal at one of my favourite restaurants, so be sure to carry your student ID and ask about discounts wherever you go. Universities often host events and clubs too that offer a range of activities without breaking the bank.”

Work hard, play hard

While university undoubtedly offers numerous opportunities for socialising and having fun, it’s crucial to strike a balance between your social life and academic commitments. Your primary goal in university is to gain knowledge, develop critical thinking skills, and prepare for your future career. Without putting in the hours to study and complete coursework, it can be challenging to achieve these objectives. As someone who has experienced the rewards of this firsthand, Chloe highlighted this significance.

“University not only allowed me to create liefelong friendships and amazing memories but it also allowed me to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to secure my current role in Digital PR at Embryo. The discipline and time management skills you develop whilst studying will set you up for any professional career you choose to go into as employers look for graduates who can demonstrate both academic achievement and the ability to manage their time effectively.”

Embarking on the journey of university life can undoubtedly be a mix of excitement, nerves, and challenges and Chloe’s experiences and insights serve as a valuable guide for those about to take this significant step. Remember that stepping out of your comfort zone, embracing new connections, and seeking new opportunities can lead to incredible experiences and personal development.

While homesickness is natural, finding likeminded individuals through societies and networking events can help ease the transition. Embrace it with enthusiasm, and you’ll discover a world of possibilities that await you.

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