Published: September 4, 2019
As someone who suffers from anxiety, I was both excited and scared to start university. However, it is nowhere near as scary or daunting as I initially thought.
When I attended sixth form my teachers prepared us for university by saying that there wouldn’t be as much support or help in place and we would need to be much more independent. Since getting here I have found this to be far from the truth. The University of Sunderland has so many amazing initiatives in place to help new students feel welcome and at ease from day 1.
The University of Sunderland makes you feel settled in even before you start! I, along with some other lucky students were offered the chance to take part in the Summer School which gives those who have applied, a week long taster of University. From staying in the halls of residence, spending time on campus, to course specific tasters, the opportunity gave students like me an insight into life as a student and helped support the transition.
Freshers Week is another event that makes students feel involved and welcomed. Although most people assume Freshers is all about the booze (and for some it is) people fail to realise that the university also offers many daytime/early evening activities! Arranged around your course taster sessions, you can take part in anything from city walks, to movie and bowling nights. It's a great way to break the ice and meet new people, one event I attended last year was a quiz night with Mark Labbett from the Chase! It was a great opportunity for me and my new flatmates to get to know each other.
The Buddy Program is another great chance to meet new people and push yourself out of your comfort zone. The program matches you with a student from the university who you will meet and do different events with. I think this is great as it offers a distraction from the stress of moving in and meeting new people and allows you to know a friendly face right from the start.
Societies are another opportunity to get to know people at the university and find a great group of friends. There are so many to choose from to match everyone’s interests, and you can even start your own. I am currently in the process of starting a society and think it's something really fun and great to focus on when I am not studying.
Finally, I want to talk about the Health and Wellbeing team, if you suffer from mental health it is vital to always have someone to talk to. Even if you already have a trusted friend, partner or family member, you can never have too much support and it helps to have someone on campus that you can go to. The team are always there if you need anything and it’s a friendly and judgement free space where you can get the support you need.
I think university is always going to be stressful whether you suffer with your mental health or not. I have found my course to be very demanding and sometimes the assignments do get on top of me, but I realise it's all about time management and strong communication with my lecturers. The university are always there to help me if i'm feeling stressed and can offer solutions that help make things a lot easier for me.
Ultimately, I think the number one thing to take away from this is that there is always someone to talk to. This idea that there is not as much support at university is a total myth and all of my lecturers have 100% supported me both inside and outside the classroom. For me, University has actually helped me with my anxiety and I have found it to be an environment that stimulates and motivates you more than it knocks you down.
For further information on the help and support available here at the University, be sure to check out the Wellbeing team.