The ups and downs of starting university – by Maya Chitnavis

Image of students talking outside the Palmer building on campus

Maya Chitnavis – one of our Student Engagement Ambassadors has written this honest and open blog about starting university. A lot of this advice is great for returners too!

If you’re starting university, it’s natural to feel scared or stressed. You’re probably moving home, going to meet new people and living independently for the first time. None of this is likely very familiar.

In preparation for uni, I had to think carefully, and I had to pack more than I ever had before. If you love packing, I’m very jealous; to me, it felt immense and tedious. During it, my anxiety chimed in constantly with questions like ‘have we got this?’, ‘will this be enough?’, ‘is it in there safely?’. (I’d already packed it, I had more than enough, and it all sat securely in my suitcase.)

It can be overwhelming deciding what to bring with you in the first year. Here is a comprehensive list from the University of Reading. It’s okay if you don’t have or bring everything, there are plenty of opportunities to get the things you need once you’ve settled.)

Second, independence, whilst genuinely freeing, is also a bit intimidating sometimes! I hate the unknown! And leaving home can feel tough. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cry a lot. If you can relate to any of this, I want to reiterate that it’s okay. It’s natural. I know things are probably daunting right now, and there’s probably a lot on your mind. But I promise you, there’s at least one person here that understands how you feel and knows that things will pan out.

For now, here is a pre-arrival checklist that might help things feel more manageable. It also helped to remind myself of how good it feels to live with my friends, I get to live by my schedule and rules, so I get to reclaim a piece of autonomy. I get to be myself.

I also try to keep in contact with those I miss and love. It reminds me that I am supported. I know they always think of me, and they know I love them.

It’s essential, I guess, to think about what you want to get out of university and try to focus on that. What would you like to experience? Here is some info on Welcome/Freshers Week 2021.

I’m excited for you! There are so many things at Reading that you might want to do, and I encourage you to participate. Especially if these things are beyond your comfort zone. Just listen to yourself and go at your own pace; take small steps consistently, and you’ll get there.

The most important things are your mental and physical health. If you want or need support, The Student Welfare Team and the Disability Advisory Service, as well as your teachers and academic tutor, are here for you. I have personally found their help invaluable.

University has been somewhere where I’ve been able to reflect and grow and enjoy life. It’s a safe space for me. But like everything, it’ll come with its trials. Uni may not be the exact same for you as it is for me, but, I promise you, you’ll find your way.

Good luck and congratulations on your results!

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