Wellbeing Advice for First Year University Students

‘Acknowledge it, Feel it, and Appreciate it;’

When starting university, I was moving to a city I was incredibly fortunate to be familiar with. Not only was the moving made easy, the stressful issues of rent, bills and being thrown in a foreign country were not things that shook me. Yet, with all the ease that came with that, I couldn’t register that my time away at uni means that I have officially moved continents and left home – I felt as though I was on holiday. This was a growing struggle which eventually manifested in my decreased commitment to my studies, lack of attention to my eating and spending time with people I already knew. I had the mindset of being on holiday, where I would either be eating or going out to the extent that I no longer felt like myself.

It was not until I started to open up about it in my second year that I found students in my class struggling with the similar feeling of being unsettled in a place we should be calling home for at least three years.

The students and I decided to set regular times to study as a group and seek support from the university. It was students alike just discussing their struggles and what they have overcome during their time at university. This group encouraged me to increase my involvement with the university, whether it was through sports, the student union or if it was just meeting up with new friends. With that, my schedule became incredibly different and started to look like one belonging to a student. I joined the football team, routinely practiced yoga, cooked healthy meals for university, began discovering the city from scratch, appreciating the parks, studying at the libraries, and getting involved in city charities such as the Santa Run and several food drives. Once I got myself involved within the city and the life of university student, I felt a greater sense of belonging to both the university and the city.

Somewhere along the line of my degree, I felt a need to organise the way I process ‘feeling my feelings’ as they say. I adopted the ‘acknowledge it, feel it, and appreciate it’ motto. Whenever I feel that the stuff around me or within me is too much, I just take a day to reset, go back to the things I love, feel my feelings and let them go to be able to come back a better version of myself. Several things I love to do when these problems take over is to have a 10-minute dance party in my room or if it’s a lazy day I would watch my favourite movies and make myself a filling healthy meal.

My advice to all the new students is check up on your classmates, as they are probably feeling the same. Also explore your new home from scratch through the eyes of a student, even if you haven’t moved. Get involved in university, there are hundreds of societies and clubs to suit each person’s interests, and if not, you can make one yourself! A final take away, when it all gets too much, just acknowledge it, let yourself feel it and appreciate your courage for being able to give yourself that time and space to feel your feelings!

Written by Mona Mettawa
Student – King’s College London