New government research has shown that 43% of students worry their friends would judge them for feeling lonely.
Freshers week has started and thousands of students have moved into their new halls for the year. However, while some people might be loving all aspects of uni life, there are many students who might not be feeling the same.
Over the last few weeks, the r/UniUK subreddit has been flooded with posts from first year students talking about loneliness and the struggles of settling into a new flat, making friends or being away from home.
With new government research stating that nearly all students have felt lonely at least once during the last academic year, we can’t stress enough that this is a completely normal feeling, so we want to help you feel better about it. You. Are. Not. Alone.
University can feel like an a lonely place at times. Even if people don’t admit it, it’s more than likely they have felt it too✨ Hang in there. Check on your friends who have moved away or that one flat mate who barely emerges from their room. It can be tough but we can make it easier for each other💜♬ original sound – Student Beans
Loneliness can be a tough feeling to shake, especially if you’re living away from home in a flat of people you haven’t really bonded with. If you’re struggling to make friends reading the standard “put yourself out there” can feel like frustrating advice to read, so with that here are some practical and less intimidating tips to follow if you’re struggling at uni.
Arrange visits home or invite your friends and family to visit
Some people might say that it’s bad to go home regularly as it takes away from “the uni experience” but if you really miss your family or your close friends back home and they make you feel better there’s no reason to not see them as often as you want.
At the end of the day, if you have a solid set of friends at home, you don’t need to form a whole new friendship group at uni if you can’t find your people. Just check in with the people who have your back at home and spend time with them when you can.
Spend time outside of your flat
Lying in bed might be your safe space, but getting outside and exploring some of your new uni town or city can definitely help you to feel better even if you’re doing it on your own. Taking yourself on a day trip to do something you love and getting some fresh air, whether it’s shopping, having coffee, reading or visiting a new museum is 10 times better for your mental well-being than spending days in bed.
Reach out to your flatmates
Many posts on Reddit come from students who think they have nothing in common with their flatmates because they don’t drink, but people who are heavy drinkers will have other interests too. As scary as it might sound, try letting your flatmates or course friends know how you feel and see if you can get to know their other interests as you might have something in common.
Watching TV, cooking or getting coffee are small things that most people do daily and could enjoy doing together in your flat. Plus, you can’t assume that just because someone likes to go out drinking and seems happy and confident that they are, for all you know they could be struggling too.
See what your flatmates are doing when they’re not drinking
If you think your flatmates have bonded over drinking and going out and you’re not really into that or don’t want to join in, find out what they’re doing when they’re not drinking during the day.
In fact, there’s a huge chance that the day after a night of heavy drinking they’d probably jump at the chance to order a flat takeaway and watch a film or go out for lunch and there’s no reason why you can’t join in too.
@studentbeans Do you have any tips for your fellow freshers? 👇✨️ These are our freshers misconceptions 👎#unistudent #freshers2023 #studentproblems #studenttok #universityseries #freshers ♬ original sound – Student Beans
Look for events, clubs and societies you can join
Ok, everyone says this and we know it’s not always that easy. However, if you really feel like you’re not going to be friends with your flatmates or coursemates this is a good way to try and meet new people. You don’t have to jump all in and join every society but if there’s one that matches your interests you’re probably going to meet people there that you’ll get on with, so it is worth a try.
Head down to your freshers fair and sign up for some taster sessions, or see if you can follow the society or club on social media to see get a better idea of the things they get up to.
Try and initiate plans with your coursemates
Your coursemates will probably be going through similar worries as you when it comes to your degree as they’ll be doing the same assignments and will have the same workload. Try and sit with new people in lectures or ask people during seminars how they’re finding the assignments, you could try forming a study group with them or if you’re doing group work you could suggest going for a coffee if you feel like you’re getting on with them.
While you can change your flatmates each year, your coursemates will be in your lectures for the next couple of years and there will definitely be people on your course that also want to make new friends, so definitely try and talk to people when you can. Even a “Hi, how are you?” while you’re waiting to go into a lecture hall can go a long way to start a conversation and form a friendship.
Get in touch with your unis welfare teams
If you need to talk to someone about how you’re feeling, get in touch with your uni’s welfare team to see what help could be available to you. Keeping your feelings bottled up will only make you feel worse, so it’s well worth seeing what support is available to you. Remember that you’re not alone and thousands of other uni students across the country are probably feeling just like you are too.
Helpful Resources if you’re feeling lonely
- Student Space from Student Minds – phone, text messaging and email support for students suffering from mental health problems or concerns about uni
- Samaritans – call 116 123 for free 24/7
- Nightline – most unis will run a confidential Nightline service
- Mind – call 0300 123 3393 for support
- HOPELINE UK — call 0800 068 41 41
- Shout – text shout to 85258 to talk to someone via text message 24/7
- CALM — call 0800 58 58 58
Remember, sometimes things take time — you never know when a new friendship could arise or what’s going to happen over the next few months. As summed up by this Reddit post, the first few weeks of uni might not be what you imagined, but there’s always time for things to work out.