With Eloise Kohler.
When we first started discussing this editorial, we both agreed immediately how much we wished someone had sat us down when we were freshers and told us to just not worry so much. There’s something about first year that amplifies problems – the intensity of your living environment, along with the issues, practical and emotional, of being away from home. Take it from us: everything will definitely be alright.For most freshers, this will be the first time you have lived away from home. Some of you will be delighted to strike out on your own, no doubt, while a fair few will experience crippling homesickness. The vast majority will find its a bit of both. We were at either end of the spectrum: one of us ran up a £700 phone bill calling her parents in tears and wondering why everyone else seemed to be fine, while the other whizzed through first year in a giddy daze but nonetheless felt like it wasn’t normal to be quite so infatuated with Edinburgh. Hopefully this illustrates for you that there is no “normal” way to feel – and honestly, someone out there (probably just down the corridor) will be feeling the same way as you.
Solitude may not be something you immediately associate with being a fresher, but being content in your own company is incredibly important. On a practical level, it will give you the confidence to go and do things on your own – which we really implore you to do. We know that turning up at societies’ meetings alone, for example, can be utterly nerve-wracking, but it honestly won’t be as bad as you might fear. Don’t be scared to introduce yourself to people: in all likelihood, they’ll be relieved to have someone to talk to. There’s also the fact that, except when you’re studying, you may not get to spend much time alone in your first year, unless you make an active choice to do so. Halls can be really claustrophobic, and they have a tendency to induce serious fear of missing out in even the most hardened individuals. But really – it’s OK, necessary even, to take a night to yourself. Trust us, it will keep you sane.
Finally, while we’re in big sister mode: please, please stay safe. Especially while you’re getting to know Edinburgh, which can be dizzily disorientating, try to make sure you have people to walk home with and if you’re even a bit unsure just hop in a (licensed) taxi. Those extra few pounds won’t matter in the long run.
We hope this advice proves useful for you in your first foray into university life. Freshers’ week may not prove to live up to the enormous expectations bestowed upon it, but enjoy yourself! We certainly wish we could do it all over again.
Anna & Eloise.
Originally published in The Student, September 13 2011.