Last week, our guest blogger Alex Staff spoke about how it’s completely normal to feel homesick at the beginning of Uni but to stick at it as you will settle in (and that most people are probably feeling the same even though people rarely say). This week, she discusses the importance of feeling happy in your choice of University and course.
Don’t worry if it takes a little while for you to feel comfortable at University. However, there is a difference between feeling homesick to being downright miserable, and if you are truly unhappy at University it may be worth thinking about making a change. This post focuses on one of my closest friends, and is about how she dropped out of a different University to join the one we both went to the following year. Not only am I extremely pleased that this happened, as otherwise we would never have met, but it was also the best decision she ever made for herself (her words). There is absolutely no shame in being brave enough to admit that the course/University you are at is not right for you, proven by Abbie’s testament:
“Even though I’d taken all the right steps before choosing my Uni (going to all the open days of my 5 choices, attending the interviews and reading reviews online) … When I was dropped off at my halls, had moved all my stuff into my new room and my parent’s had left – I had a gut feeling I’d made a bad decision. The Uni had been my first choice and before I’d actually got there, I was very excited to go – I’d visited once for an open day and another time for an interview and it was by far my favourite Uni, but once I was actually living there it just didn’t click with me. I first of all put this down to homesickness, I was only 18 and I’d never lived away from home so of course doubts would be natural. So I tried my best to make an effort to like it, I made friends quite quickly, went out every night of Fresher’s week, played all the silly drinking games and tried to embrace student life. Even though the nights out were fun – the next morning when I was hungover, all I felt was an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and homesickness. These were supposed to be the best years of my life but I was hating every second of it.
It was my mum who told me that I should quit Uni and come home, even though she’d been really supportive of me trying to stick it through – after a couple of weeks of being constantly miserable and crying on Skype calls, enough was enough. At first I couldn’t even comprehend the idea of dropping out of Uni – how embarrassing it would be that I couldn’t hack Uni, how everyone I knew would be talking about it and how much of a failure it would make me. For me, dropping out meant that I’d failed at life and would never be successful at anything. However, my mum put it in perspective for me: I was 18, could have a year out and start again. I was also wasting my time and money – putting it bluntly, 9K a year is a lot to spend on just being miserable all the time.
After a week of purely Freshers, Uni started and I was hopeful that once I was in a routine of doing work I’d begin to like it. However, after just a couple of days I found myself feeling really apathetic towards going to the lectures and just not getting out of bed because I just didn’t care enough. As someone who’s always loved being in an education environment, this was very unusual behaviour and I began to realise that I wasn’t being myself.
After about 6 weeks I made the decision to leave – it was the hardest decision I’d ever made but as soon as I made it I felt as if the biggest weight had been lifted and I knew it was the right choice. I began to feel myself again. When I came home and told my friends, to my surprise no one thought I was a failure. In fact, a few told me how proud they were of me for being so brave in actually admitting I wasn’t enjoying it and leaving. After a few weeks of being home, I got an amazing full time job, saved up loads of money and applied for a Uni closer to home for the following September. 3 years later and I’ve graduated with a First Class degree in the same course as I was doing the first time. I’ve had the best three years, full of highs AND lows of course as Uni isn’t amazing all the time (because what is ?!) but I’ve been lucky enough to have loved my degree and everything else that comes with it.
Obviously hindsight is a blessing and even though I didn’t know it at the time, dropping out of Uni was the best decision I could ever had made.
So my advice to anyone who’s not enjoying Uni is …
1. Give it a go – homesickness is normal in the first few weeks and for a lot of people it is just a phase.
2. As much fun as Freshers is – alcohol is a depressant so it’s not surprising if you’re feeling low after going out and drinking non-stop so make sure you do give yourself a break to gain a bit of perspective.
3. If you’re still feeling unhappy – don’t be afraid to speak to a personal tutor or university counsellor. You won’t be the first or last person to speak to them about not enjoying Uni and they will have helpful advice.
4. Find out when the deadlines are for paying student loans to the Uni – although you should give yourself enough time to make the decision, you also need to be savvy as you are spending a lot of money and don’t want to end up in a lot of debt if you end up leaving. Initially I was going to give it until Christmas however if I was to do that I would have wasted a lot of money, instead I left before the deadline for paying fees and this meant I didn’t have to pay out any money to my halls or the Uni. My deadline was around the end of October but all universities are different so make sure you check – it could help with your decision if you put a time on it.
5. Dropping out doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it just means you’ve accepted it isn’t right for you and made a positive decision that will benefit you. Your happiness is key and if something is making you unhappy then you need to leave – simple as.”