Masks, frequent hand washing and making sure to keep your distance seem alien in a student world where you're supposed to be socializing and figuring out who you are. So how can you do this in a safe and responsible way, adjusting to a new life not only in a new city, but also in a new way of life?
I remember my first year at uni very well. Moving into a flat with five people you've not met before seems bizarre, right? But in fact, it's one of the best ways to get you out in the world and learning how to mix with those with various backgrounds, cultures and even personalities.
There's always a few students who feel shy or simply afraid to get to know their flat, which can result in them hiding away in their rooms. This year, this might be even more common as Covid is a not so welcome flat sharer, and your flatmate may feel uncomfortable being in close proximity. If this is the case - in either shyness or Covid relation - make sure they know they can come and get to know you and the others when they feel ready and safe to do so, and make sure to be polite with how they feel about the virus. Everybody is different in how they deal with new experiences.
These are the people who you will be sleeping in a room across from, cooking with and sharing living space with. It's like having a bunch of brothers or sisters and is honestly such an amazing experience. So get to know them. Besides, with lockdown measures being up and down, you'll want to be familiar with the people you have around you.
It's a phrase that you might hear blowing around uni, and it's not unsurprising that many students might get a little low after all the hype of starting life in a new place, events - and also festivities such as Halloween and bonfire night - are all over. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement, before having to turn your attention to assessments and revision or just having less to distract you from any home sickness. But it's OK. This is when you need to make sure you are exploring your surroundings (safely) and getting to know your flat as much as possible. If you find yourself feeling low or like daily tasks become hard to complete, talk to someone. Your personal tutor, a flatmate, your family, home friends. Anyone. And to keep you engaged and not stuck in your mind, why not suggest a night where your flat make a meal together? Or even play a board game or watch a film. Just try not to hole yourself away in your room if you can. You've got this, and its perfectly valid if you feel this way, many will even if they don't say it out loud.
A lot of young people worry about making friends at uni, whether it be any at all or even if you'll find 'your people' or getting into 'the wrong crowd.' This year, again this may seem even more daunting. Even though I haven't had to experience my first year during a global pandemic, I can say that regardless, you will find people who you will love to bits. Some people instantly click with their flatmates, others find them on their course, or through friends of friends.
I know some who didn't find their people until end of first year or second year. But the whole process is exciting and allows you to grow as you figure out who you are, trying out different versions of you. This year, this may be a little harder to do. But regardless, you will end up around who you were meant to be friends with - what is for you will not pass you by. Try getting involved in the conversation's on your course chat, or those who are joining the same societies as you so that you are open to making friendships. I promise it's worth it.
I think a strong piece of advice when starting uni is not trying to impress people by doing things you wouldn't usually do. It's common to find yourself in situations where you have a choice, and sometimes the pressure of wanting to make friends gets to you a little and you choose the option you would never even consider at home. But you don't have to change yourself to make friends. Only by being yourself will you find the right people for you!
In relation to Coronavirus, if someone is pressuring you to break rules, do not give in just to look 'cool' or follow the crowd. Do what you know is right, and make choices based on simple morals you have before you were thrust into a new place with many possibilities surrounding you.
All in all, you are starting a journey that you will cherish forever. It flies by, and you'll be wanting to get right back to first year by time you enter your third. Enjoy it, have fun, make memories and record as much of it as you can - one day you'll want to relive it even if it's just through pictures and videos, and even if there's masks and hand sanitizer lurking in the background.
Feature Image: Pixabay @StockSnap