When moving into your hall of residence, the RA’s and Accommodation staff constantly remind you that it’s perfectly normal to go through the rollercoaster of emotions in the first year of university.
The rollercoaster goes a little something like this:
- You start off kind of low with first-day nerves and, for some, homesickness hits hard.
- O-Week kicks off and brings about an incline. You meet a ton of new people and are overwhelmed by introductions and questions like “what are you studying?” and the hall keeps you busy by putting on as many engaging activities as they can.
- Reality kind of whacks you in the face when lectures begin, leading to a slight dip. You realise that university isn’t like school and living away from home means that you have to do your own laundry and clean up your own messes.
- It stays relatively consistent as you develop friendships and get the hang of university life until mid-term tests and assignments start piling up; a major drop occurs. Stress is high, the workload is high, and it never seems to end.
- You get a boost when the mid-semester break arrives; you’re able to relax for a week, catch up with family and friends, and maybe do a touch of study (you should probably do more than a touch but we all know that never happens).
- More mid-semester tests and assignments equal a major dip.
- EXAMS OH BOY
- And then a well-deserved inter-semester break!
And then it starts all over again for the following semester.
I’ve made it through the first half of this journey and I’m quite proud to say that I have kept it pretty consistent. If it were a real rollercoaster, it would be one of those boring little kiddy coasters. I remember thinking to myself, “I’ve got this under control, why would there be a huge slump all of a sudden?”
Well, it appears I jinxed myself. The slump is here and it is awful. It came out of nowhere and is refusing to go away.
I knew that last week and this week were going to be hard; I had a 30% History essay due on Monday and I have a 10% Psych lab report due on Friday, but I wasn’t anticipating that I was going to feel this terrible. I have been slowly working away at both of my assignments but as the due dates grew closer, I felt more and more panicked. I would wake up to the sound of my alarm and want to cry. I feel like I have a giant hole in my chest. My homesickness has returned with a vengeance. Overall, I’m just in a bad headspace.
I think the hardest thing about this slump is that the usual support network that I have had in the past isn’t physically there for me anymore. I don’t have my parents for advice or my brothers to brighten my day or my best friend’s shoulder to cry on.
But that is the great thing about technology. When I had a wee meltdown last Thursday, I was able to FaceTime my parents at a moment’s notice and they were able to give me a pep talk as if I were still at home. My eldest brother, who is living in Chilé, surprised me with a FaceTime on Saturday afternoon and we were able to talk about our perfectionism, the anxiety it creates and how to work around it. Since then, he has sent through a link to a book and also a TedX talk about habits. I gave my best friend a call today when I had a break in between lectures to verbalise how I was feeling and to hear a familiar voice.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that even though there will be days, maybe even weeks, where you feel like absolute rubbish, you aren’t alone. Through the wonder of technology, you can speak to someone familiar for as long as you need, and the boost that it gives to your mood can’t be beaten.
Before I go, I have one last pearl of wisdom my dad passed on to me for when things feel a bit too much: all you need to do is take it one day at a time. Focus on the day ahead, get through it, and then repeat. Sometimes that is all you can do, and that is okay.
Until next time – Emily xx