Photo By: Naassom Azevedo from Unsplash

Starting university can be a challenging time. Not only will you be getting used to a whole new environment, but your role as a student will vary considerably from high school. More freedom comes with more expectations that you will have to impose on yourself to find success, whatever that means for you personally. 

It is common to feel like you might be the only one struggling with adjustment. Even when we are assured that we aren’t alone, many of us still find ways to believe our case is special and, somehow, we’re worse off than everybody else. For many people, these are the kind of mind games you might experience when entering a new environment, like starting university.

Getting used to a new kind of workload and way of being taught, meeting new people, and learning the lay of the land can be very exciting, but also challenging when it’s all happening at the same time. Riddled with anxiety, unsureness and at times dread, it can take some serious effort to get through those first few months. Though, the cliché tends to be true: stormy weather usually makes way for clear skies.

Socializing is frequently something new students fear coming into university. It’s not quite the same as in secondary school, where tight-knit cliques and friendships were common. Rather, starting university can isolate people and you may find yourself left to find friendships while you’re also finding yourself; not the easiest task, especially with COVID-19 keeping us all at a distance. 

Ethan Birch, a fourth-year creative writing student at Brock, describes himself as, “one of the shyest people when it comes to real life social situations.” He noted how living in residence during his first-year forced him to interact after the orientation  events he attended didn’t do much for him.

“Don’t be too intimidated by the fact that a lot of people are going to big events. If you’re not built for that, there’s going to be another person with the same mindset who you’re gonna say ‘hey, what’s up?’” said Birch.

He went on to explain that most people feel intimidated at first and that we can often exacerbate social anxieties and end up looking back and finding ourselves to have overreacted.

Birch also stressed the importance of attending classes and not developing avoidance habits early. Skipping a lecture or two can be tempting, especially with assignments piling up. But keeping an open mind and seriously digesting lecture material can be beneficial if you are feeling uneasy about what you’re studying. Even if you’re completely unsure, making a good-faith attempt to spend quality time with course material is always a safe bet for staying positive. 

Getting out of your comfort zone and talking with TAs and professors during office hours can make a world’s difference too; they’re there to help you, so build rapport early and you could be looking at a fruitful university career. 

President of LIFT Church and fourth-year sports management student Aidan Boose explained how Brock’s clubs are another great way to put yourself out there and he recommends getting involved early. 

“It really helps to find people early on and from there you can expand, which is really important,” said Boose.

According to Boose, being uncomfortable is part of the experience. You should embrace it rather than shy away. 

As intimidating as university can be at first, confronting those feelings is important. The things we fear in a university setting are usually less of a big deal than we originally thought. Taking initiative can lead to friendships, opportunities and memories, so why not go for it?