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I moved from Leeds to Surrey the week after my 18th birthday to study at The University for the Creative Arts, I was excited but also apprehensive because I am an introvert at heart and I had so many concerns about making friends. I had this dreadful feeling of being unable to make genuine friends and my university experience being a total disaster.

But I pushed past my fears and threw myself into the university life, whenever I aired my concerns about making friends my family would assure me that they will come to you easily. Low and behold they did, making friends had never been easier, everyone was in the same boat; concerned about becoming an adult and living away from home, and it bonded us together. I made some friends that I know I will have for the rest of my life.

I started university with a lot of anxieties, but there are so many opportunities at UCA that have allowed me to blossom into the person I am today, if you’d have told 16-year-old me that in two years’ time I’d be working as a student ambassador, doing regular campus tours and public speaking I’d have said you’ve got the wrong girl. But UCA revealed an abundance of chances to better myself as a person as well as academically within my course.

I have changed so much since the beginning of my university life and I am continuing to grow, all the anxieties that I know everyone has when starting university although sometimes still niggle at my subconscious I know I can overcome.

University is full of fun times both socially, academically and mentally and throwing yourself into everything you do will truly benefit you. It isn’t as scary as it may seem, I promise.

Of course, I can’t sit here and tell you that it’s all sunshine and rainbows because that’s not reality. During my first modules in year 2 I went through some tough times, with personal problems and a complete loss of confidence in myself and the work I do. My anxiety peaked and I felt worthless.

My housemates noticed me withdrawing in social situations, even the small things like eating my meals in my room and not being my usual chipper and energetic self, which lead them to act.

They were there for me, there to talk or just to chill and that really helped. My tutors also noticed this deterioration of my mental health and they were extremely supportive, allowing me mitigating circumstances for my personal life and constantly checking in on me and providing any additional support I needed.

It was then that I started to realise I was spiralling, and I took matters into my own hands, I utilised the services at the university. I went to all the mental health and wellbeing fairs getting advice, contacts and goodies to help me get back on track, and I began counselling.

Counselling was the best thing I could have ever done, although I only had a few sessions, after every hour I felt so much weight lifted from my shoulders. It helped me put things into perspective, understand myself and my coping mechanisms and find ways to better my methods of coping.

I still have one year to go, and I am sure I will come across many struggles but knowing that I have such a support system behind me with my tutors, friends and the university itself makes me confident I can take on anything.

The best piece of advice that I could give you before starting university is to take every day as it comes, and don’t be so hard on yourself. It is a big commitment starting university and becoming an adult, and it does come with its struggles, but I promise you there is so much to help you through university. Don’t be afraid to seek help when you are struggling, everyone’s anxieties and fears are valid and getting help digesting and overcoming these is so important for your mental health.

The services at UCA are impeccable, and your wellbeing is at the forefront of your studies, there is a plethora of people you can speak to and get help from. You will be supported every step of the way.

Finally, try not to pre-stress for university because you have every reason to be excited to start, it’s a big jump but it comes with many amazing rewards.


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