#WellnessWednesday: Coping with nerves when starting university

Fikaon 16 September 2020
#WellnessWednesday: Coping with nerves when starting university

Feeling a little nervous is completely normal when starting anything new - but particularly so when starting university and facing lots of big changes all at once.

Here are some pointers to help you cope with uni nerves and make the most out of what is going to be one of the most amazing and memorable experiences of your life.

1. Identify the qualities you’re looking for in new friends 

When you start university, it’s useful to take some time to think about what you want from friendships. Think about the characteristics you value in others. And focus on these rather than superficial things, like gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and so on.

Ask yourself - what is it you need from your friends to help you be the best version of yourself? And what characteristics in other people make you feel good?

Don’t worry if it takes trial and error to find friends with values you share. Research shows it takes 50 hours to move from acquaintance to even casual friend - so be patient with yourself.

2. Find the courage to talk to new people

As humans, most of us are brought up to give back what we receive. This is called the reciprocity norm. 

In fact, research shows we often underestimate how much another person will want to have a conversation or enjoy it, if we would just be brave and start talking. 

You don’t have to be the world’s most outgoing person to make friends, but there’s benefit in exploring different ways to start conversations. Why not try jotting down a few possible conversation-starters before meeting new people?

3. Get an ‘I can’ study mindset 

Research shows our attitude to work is a bigger predictor of success than our IQ. 

People with a growth mindset, or an ‘I can’ mindset, tend to perform better. They acknowledge that talent is only part of the puzzle and with work and effort they can improve. 

What study tasks do you tend to find challenging? Starting today, how can you foster an ‘I can’ study mindset when taking on these types of challenges in future?

Maybe it’s about not comparing yourself to others.

Or perhaps you need to be patient and give yourself more time. 

Or could you break the task down into manageable chunks?

4. See high-pressure situations as a challenge, not a threat

People who see high-pressure situations as a threat tend to experience greater anxiety than those who see them as a challenge they can overcome. 

Viewing high-pressure occasions like public speaking, introducing yourself to a crowd of strangers or speaking up in a seminar or tutorial as a challenge makes you more likely to perform well. 

It helps to think about: 

  • What we want to achieve in the situation, rather than what we want to avoid happening
  • The things that are within our control, rather than those that are out of our control
  • The skills and abilities we do have, rather than those we don’t believe we have

5. Beat homesickness 

The best way to proactively combat homesickness is to proactively immerse yourself in every aspect of university life. 

However, it can also be useful to plan how you will use technology to stay in touch with friends and family from home. 

Experts suggest having regular video-call catch-ups is a great way of beating homesickness - as long as it doesn’t get in the way of making new friends. 

Think about a schedule which still allows plenty of time for socialising with new people - and then stick to it throughout your first term at uni.

Take things one step at a time, and if you’re a Fika user, let us know how you got on in the Fika app’s Community feed. Fika has partnerships with 41 universities across the UK. For a list of Fika’s university partners, please click here

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Fikaon 16 September 2020