By Emma Taylor
It’s always been hard to start something new, especially when you’re stepping out of your comfort zone. When I arrived back in my house on Sunday night, the week ahead of me seemed torturous. I knew no one in my course, I barely knew my roommates and the idea of being one face in a crowd after years of small class’s intimidated me.
The University of Limerick is such a big campus that I was terrified I get lost in the crowd, especially since I come from a small town and my friends have splintered off in different directions. Fresher’s Week I was told would be ‘the best week of your life’ but to me in my room on Sunday night, it felt like I’d was entering a war zone with only my iPod and books to save me from this loud and intimidating place.
Monday left me waking up at seven thirty in the morning with nervousness. I was scared about finding my classes, getting there on time and meeting new people. Social interactions aren’t my biggest skills unless I’m comfortable in my surroundings. The walk to the college left me feeling lonely and sick. The entire walk was filled with other first years, just like me, yet they had their friends with them laughing and talking with excitement. I was another story with my ear phones in and my eyes counting the cracks in the pavement before me. It also didn’t help that my first lecture had been moved to another part of the campus.
All I can say is thank you to the Seven Days people. You really saved my life this week and made settling in to the vast campus a lot easier. I was able to follow their directions, get my head around the various building and find my class without much difficulty. They helped me to feel better about getting lost with their jokes and smiles, I’m sure there are other people who are just as thankful to them as I am.
Monday flew by for the rest of the day. Although I was just a face in the crowd the lectures made me feel interested and alive, as if I wasn’t just a scared little fresher trying to disappear into the sea of people. They were interesting and friendly with the right amount of sternness to show me what I would need to do this semester to survive.
The foam party was where everything started to look up for me. That night I got to know my roommates better, they made sure I came down stairs and it was as if I was with my friends. They didn’t leave me out of the conversations, they listened to what I had to say and made me laugh. It was the first time that I felt capable of settling in of finding a foothold. I shared stories, laughed and got to know the wonderful people I’ll be sharing my house with this year. I wasn’t alone.
The actual foam party was a lot better than it was described to me as being. I’d heard a lot of complaints about getting sore throats, colds and feeling miserable but I felt alive. I screamed along with every song, danced with my new found friends and just had fun. It was relaxing and exciting. I felt so much better once the whole thing kicked off, all my negative feelings were erased when we were smothered in foam. I even made friends with other girls who felt like they knew no one in UL.
I didn’t care by the time I was walking home that I was soaked to the bone or that my makeup was probably running down my cheeks, I could still feel the buzzing of the music in my ears and I had people who understood the feelings of uncertainty and loneliness that had kept me in my room on Sunday night and last week.
That Monday made my view change drastically. I no longer worry about annoying my roommates with my random chattering or if I should sit in the kitchen to drink a cup of tea. I have no fear of using the oven or messing up my cooking because I know they’ll laugh with me, not at me. The rest of Fresher’s week was lost in my lectures, buying books which was a horrifying experience in itself. I don’t think I’ll be heading off on any trips anytime soon after that.
Some days went slowly as I found that I had a little too much time on my hands and not enough to do. It’ a big jump going for being a dependant student with a set nine to three timetable and a study timetable to being responsible for yourself and managing your own time. I think that’ll be one of the many challenges that I face this year. I had so much time on my hands this week that I managed to rematch an entire season of The Walking Dead to kill the boredom in between my lectures.
As I sit here, awaiting week too with the hopes of another great week and writing this article, I’m reflecting on advice for other homesick first years. The first thing I can say to you is you’re not alone. If this week taught me anything it’s that there are other first years who are just as scared, anxious, lonely an as homesick as you’re feeling right now. It’s okay to be sad and maybe not understand just quiet yet why everyone says first year is the best year of your college life.
I suggest that you start by really getting to know your roommates. Go down to that kitchen, boil the kettle and offer them a cup of tea, there’s no quicker way to start a conversation then a good old cup of tea. I can guarantee that once the two or three of you are sitting down on your couch or at the table conversation will just start to flow. You will find someone to talk to, to do things with and roommates are the place to start.
I can already feel myself forming an amazing friendship with mine, it made my week so much easier to have another person to talk to. So smile. Hope is on the horizon and you’re not alone. I hope you enjoy your second week at UL as much as I enjoyed my Fresher’s Week.