Why my freshers week wasn't what I expected

In the first week of going to University, I saw online that there would be a Glee themed event in the Student Union

I wouldn’t mind a bit of that I thought

At this point, I hadn’t met any friends yet. I only had one other housemate on my floor who wasn’t interested in going to many social events and none of the upstairs crew came to visit me. So I got ready and thought, well, you never know I might love it and meet loads of new friends. If they love Glee too, that’s got to be a good start. I got ready, put a bit of glitter on to seal the deal and headed off. When I look back now, it was so funny that I did that. I wasn’t even that nervous because I was just so excited to start this new chapter.

I entered the student union and proudly showed my ticket. As I looked around, I realised I was in a nightclub looking pretty lost and alone. Brilliant. Now what? I felt self conscious and my cheeks started to burn up. I didn’t even want to buy a drink because I’d never actually been to a bar on my own before. It was crowded and how would the bar staff see me? I thought. (Later, I eventually mastered this and learned raising my chair and waving my card usually does the trick).

Anyway, back to Glee night…

Usually if I was somewhere new I would go up to people and have a chat. But you can’t exactly go up to a group of people in a club and shout “so, where is home for you then? Have you travelled far!?” whilst Taylor Swift’s shake it off was booming in the background. After 10 minutes of feeling like I stuck out like a sore thumb, I left the club and said to security “I’m going to come back when I’ve got some mates”.
Bloody ell, if I didn’t know there was a happy ending I’d really feel ridiculously sorry for me right now.

I got back to my flat and called my mum laughing my head off “or my god mum I’ve just gone to this event on my own and I looked well sad in’t corner”. We both laughed and mum reminded me that I was just at the beginning of the year and I did well to just go for it.

And she was right.

So what’s the point in this post you may ask? Well, Freshers week, for most people but especially disabled students is tough. Not only are you trying to make friends, you’re trying to work out what you can do, what barriers there are on campus all whilst trying to keep up with everyone else too. Oh and a small thing of preparing to get a degree and all that!

But just know that there is no deadline to being “settled”. I always say I did Freshers’ the wrong way round. I started rocky in the first week and met my coursemates the second week in. These turned out to be some of my best friends (and still are), then I went on nights out with them later in the year and felt really happy by the end of first year.

So here are my top tips for surviving your first week at University:

  • Explore campus, not only will you know where is accessible and feel more comfortable, but you will make friends when you show your peers directions!

  • Don’t over do it just because you think people will judge you for not attending things

  • Even though people will advise “join everything” if your energy is lacking, take your time and just do what you’re passionate about

  • Ask for adjustments, if you want to get involved in something but there are barriers – have a word with the staff/leaders. You never know, you may make it more accessible for others as well as for yourself!

I really hope if you’re reading this, and you’re just starting university – that this gives you a little bit of comfort. Even if you have a moment like I did, remember we’ve all been there. It sounds cheesy but all students have got their own story on starting University – see if you can make yours more cringier than mine!