When I was first searching for the right University, I remember thinking ‘Is this really happening to me? Am I really looking for the university I’ll spend the next three years at?’ I thought that I would have a very long time until I was getting ready to completely uproot my life, and move to a completely new city miles away from everything that was familiar to me. Strangely, before I knew it, I had reached A Level results day, which decided what University I would be attending, and then it seemed like days after that when I was packing up my room to move to my halls of residence, when in fact it was about a month.
I remember waking up on the day I moved up here, looking around at my room that looked the barest it had since my family first moved into that house, and wondering if I was really cut out to move so far away from everyone I loved. This was the first time I’d properly been away from home, and I’d never had the independence that going to university would give me. I went down for breakfast with my mum (as we always do), but I remember I could barely speak, because I was so worried that I’d either cry, or say that I wanted to stay at home. I got dressed, packed all the stuff I had left out and- somehow- managed to get all my stuff downstairs to go in the car. My uncle, who was driving us up arrived, and we then spent about an hour and a half trying to fit all my stuff into the car without breaking anything (there was a lot). At this point I was beginning to feel excited, it was actually sinking in that I was starting a completely new chapter, and that, as cliché as it sounds, this was the beginning of the rest of my life.
During the journey up there I did experience moments where I was tempted to ask my uncle to turn around and take me back home, but I knew that if I asked he would actually take me home, and I’d end up regretting it. I listened to music for most of the journey, in a sad attempt to drown out the emotions that I was feeling. With all the stuff crowded around me, I felt like I was abandoning my life at home, my family, even my dogs. As we got closer and closer, my heart beat faster and faster, partly in excitement, and partly because I was absolutely terrified. I felt like I was either going to cry or vomit, and at some points I was completely sure that I had made a massive mistake in choosing to go to university.
We pulled into my campus, and after about ten minutes, we reached my halls. As nice as it looked, and as friendly as everyone was, I was still terrified. It didn’t take long to get my keys and sign up for the campus doctor, and then we started unpacking. After unfortunately finding that I did in fact have to go up a flight of stairs to get to my flat, we reached the front door. Eventually, after multiple attempts, we managed to get the door open, and I stepped into my new home. The hallway isn’t much, just a bit of carpet and walls painted an off-white colour, but it was the first glimpse of what my new life looked like. It turned out that my room was right by the door, which I’m still conflicted about- on the one hand if there was a fire/psychopath break-in (too many horror films watched on flat film nights), I would live, but on the other hand, I would be able to hear everything going on outside the front door (I can also hear everything going on next door to me, below me and above me- to whoever lives in the room above me, what do you keep in your drawers that makes you open them so much? One day I’m going to start counting).
It didn’t take long to get everything out of the car (thank you to the two freshers reps for helping- I know my suitcases were heavy), and we got all of it into my room, which surprisingly didn’t look as bare as I thought. As much as I wanted my uncle, grandma and mum to stay and help me unpack, I knew that I would get more and more emotional as the time went on, so I said that they should leave after we’d got everything in the flat, and once we’d looked round (my grandma wanted to inspect the kitchen to make sure it was up to her standard- luckily it was, or she probably would have made me go back home).
As we walked out of the block and stood outside, I could feel myself getting ready to cry, but I knew that if I cried, they’d never leave me, and I’d probably end up going home which, as good as it sounded at some points, would be a massive mistake. I said goodbye to my uncle first, who, in his classic fashion, gave me a hug, made me take some money, and then our secret handshake, that has been performed on every goodbye since I was 11. Then my grandma, who was probably as close to tears as I was. We hugged, probably for too long, and she told me the same thing she always tells me when I see her, that if I ever needed a chat, or some advice, she would always be there for me (at this point I was basically crying- I’m still slightly awed by the self control, as I didn’t actually let myself be upset until later). And, finally, my mum. This was probably the hardest goodbye I’ve ever given, because as much as we argued throughout my teenage years, she’s been a constant presence in my life, and she had to do everything on her own. I could see that she was holding in tears, which further complicated my mission not to cry until they’d left, but luckily I got my strength from her, and we both managed to not cry. When I hugged her I remember trying to memorise everything about her, so that I could remember that hug when I’m up here needing her. We told each other we loved each other, and then it was time for them to leave.
I stayed outside the block waving until they had gone around the corner, and then it truly sunk in that I was now alone. As depressing as that sounded, I did still feel some sort of excitement, because this was now my time to discover my true personality, and not the one I’d created at the toxic mess that was my school. I walked back into my flat, which was still empty at this point, my flatmates didn’t come until much later, and stared at the depressing mess that was my room, still all packed up.
Three hours later, I had finally finished unpacking my room, and it was finally starting to look homely. I sprayed some air freshener, as it still smelt pretty musty, and then made myself go to the kitchen to unpack all of my stuff in there (I’m pretty sure I had more kitchen things that clothes). Now came the stress of how much cupboard space could I use without seeming greedy to the people I’d be living with for the next year. I chose to start with one cupboard, and if there were any free after everyone had unpacked, I’d use some more room. It didn’t take me too long to sort everything out, and then I was 100% moved into the flat. I didn’t really know how long it would be until someone else moved in, so I decided to start on some pre-uni work that I’d been set (I ended up spending nearly two hours on it, and they didn’t even ask to see it).
I think it was about an hour after that when I met my first flatmate. Technically I didn’t meet him first, I met his mum, who introduced him saying that he’s ‘shy’ (after getting to know him I will definitely say that he’s the complete opposite of shy). We chatted in my room for a bit, and then moved to the kitchen to make a drink. Now this was the moment where my clumsiness became even more obvious that it was before, as I managed to break all but one plate, all because I’d stacked them wrong. Luckily no-one was injured in the breaking of the plates, apart from the brief moment when my heart stopped (I don’t do well with loud, sudden noises). My clumsiness actually provided an ice-breaker as any awkwardness was overcome with laughter! While this was happening, another roommate was moving in- said roommate would also turn out to be my boyfriend, but more on that in a later chapter- and we all chatted in the kitchen until everyone else moved in.
Soon it was the evening, and it was time to get ready for the first night of freshers, which then brings this chapter to an end. If I had any advice for anyone reading this who is/was as terrified as I was, I’d say that it’s really important to make yourself move in, even if it feels like you’re completely sure that you made a mistake coming here, and you wanted to go home. It is tough, and the homesickness does feel awful for a while, but eventually you’ll settle into a routine, and slowly you’ll feel like you can survive here. I can’t say much, I’ve only been at university for a month, but at this point I can say that I definitely haven’t settled in completely, but I’m getting used to this new environment, and I’m enjoying myself. I’ve heard everyone say that everyone should try and get through the first year before making a decision on whether to leave or not, and honestly I’d agree with them. Leaving after the first semester is nowhere near enough time, and leaving after the second semester is just pointless, since you’ll only have a few weeks before the end of the year. It might seem tough, but the only thing I can say is that you just need to push through, it’s all worth it in the end.