SETTLING IN: after the first few weeks

Looking after your health:
So now you have been at University for a few weeks: the weather is starting to change, it is getting colder, and the days are becoming shorter.

During this change of season, when the temperature fluctuates so much, it is very common to catch a cold. Some of the symptoms are uncomfortable, such as having a general sense of not feeling well, perhaps having a headache, and having trouble breathing due to congestion.
If you have a cold, it is likely that you are feeling tired and that you do not want to do too much.  Just when you are starting to get to know your peers it may be a bit difficult to say no when they go out in the evening as you would like to join them too. However, it is the right thing to do to protect your health. It is a good idea to listen to your body and take time to look after yourself.

When feeling unwell it feels harder to deal with being in a new place. It is likely that you may miss being near your family and having familiar things around you. It is understandable to want to have a bit of comfort until you feel better.  It is natural to want to make more contact with your family while you are recovering. Perhaps you have the option of going home for a day or two and returning feeling stronger.

Tips to recover from a cold and how to keep well:

 Eat healthy food, particularly fruit and vegetables so that you have plenty of vitamins to support your health and restore your daily energy.

Make sure you have your meals at regular times; it will make a big difference to how you feel, and it will help your body to restore balance.

 Keep warm and allow time to feel better again. If you are feeling unwell, don’t over-extend yourself. Pace yourself and save energy so that your body has what it needs to recover.

Keep hydrated: drink plenty of fluids as this will help your body to recover from a cold.

Contact family and friends when you need to whilst also maintaining contact with your peers at university.

Where possible, take breaks In between lessons so that you can concentrate better.

Protect your sleep: having an early night will support your recovery as it will give your immune system the opportunity to work effectively.

Look after yourself: if you have a sore throat or a temperature and feel very unwell, contact your GP for advice to prevent any complications.

Settling in to your accommodation:
Now that you have been at University for about 3 weeks, the novelty and excitement of the first few days may have started to disappear. This is part of the adjustment process;  being at university will  gradually become your new normal.

You may be more familiar with your environment now and getting used to your new accommodation (flat in Halls, or shared accommodation).

You may be working out a routine and adjusting to being around other students. It takes a little time to negotiate ways of being in your new shared space.

Learning about the habits of other people around you can be a challenge. Perhaps your flat/housemates like to stay up late listening to music or cooking while chatting late into the night. Not everyone likes to be socialising at all hours, and even less so when not feeling well. Even if you would like to join them the need to sleep is a priority.

In order to find ways of accommodating everyone’s preferences, it is best to discuss issues as a flat/house and find compromises for the benefit of all.

Good communication is key to creating a good living environment. Sometimes people have different ways of doing things, for example, how to use the kitchen space, keeping pots and pans clean so that they do not accumulate in the sink, and respecting each other’s food items.

You may find that as much as you want to be part of the group, you may also want to spend some time in your room taking a break or focusing on your studies. It is important that you allow time to be in your own space. We all need a bit of quiet time to restore our energy so that we can join in group activities. Some people need more space than others so identify what works for you.  

Feeling part of a community of friends is important, not least because it helps to prevent homesickness. If you think you need more ‘alone time’ than most people, make it part of your routine to go to the kitchen, or living room area where you can meet your peers and develop a conversation, perhaps start to exchange stories of your day, cook or watch a film together.

Tips to maintain good communications with your peers:

1.Dealing with noise issues: sometimes people have different expectations of when it is time to be quiet, or how to share common space. Suggest to your peers that it would be good to meet to agree some essential flat/house rules. For example, agreeing when the volume of music and chatting should be lowered so that those who want to sleep can as this is necessary to keep well.

2.Managing difference of opinion: it is likely that in any communication within a group there are going to be different points of view.

If you feel that it is difficult to reach an agreement, explore what is the other person’s motivation so that you can understand what is important to them. Then, summarise your understanding and describe why it is important to you what you are proposing.

This negotiation may take a bit of time until you can reach an understanding. In general, most students are willing to compromise; as social beings we want to get along with others and to have friendly relations and a good experience.

3.Respecting boundaries: everyone has different needs and preferences. In addition, our body has its own internal clocks influencing our sleep cycle and our metabolism. Some people are more sensitive to noise, and others may require longer periods being in a quiet space to restore energy.

We all have different levels of need for privacy and for being in our own space. Describe to others what works for you and learn about what works for others.

As you get to know each other, communicating with respect will allow you to develop strong relationships.

“With the new day comes new strengths and new thoughts.”
(Eleanor Roosevelt)