Feeling lonely is one of the most difficult parts of starting University.
Getting into a cycle of isolation can make you feel completely cut off from everyone else and feel like you don’t really have place in the new city you live in. However, feeling lonely doesn’t last forever and it doesn’t have to be a bad thing – having a certain amount of time to yourself is good for head-space and can help with your sense of independence, and figuring out what type of loneliness you’re feeling and working to feel better gives you a great sense of self awareness.
There are two main types of loneliness that you might experience whilst at or starting University, and hopefully this list will help you understand them and try to see the positive things to be gained from experiencing and overcoming it.
This is probably the most common kind experienced by students at University, which is feeling lonely due to a change of situation out of the familiar and comfortable. Where you may have established social habits or a big group of friends at home, in moving to Uni you might find yourself knowing no one for the first time ever. Luckily though, universities are getting better and better with helping students who are struggling to find their feet.
There are countless societies and places to meet people (whether you drink or not), as well as on your course itself (you already know you have at least one thing in common with everyone on your course). Reaching out to these people who you’ll see every week could be an ideal way to make parts of this new situation feel more familiar and less isolating.
The second type of loneliness that’s common at University is Social Loneliness. This feeling can be similar to Situational Loneliness but is more common with people who struggle in social situations. This sort of loneliness can stem from issues with shyness or social awkwardness, or self-esteem issues, doubting your ability to be ‘entertaining enough’ around other people. The key to overcoming any type of loneliness is figuring out exactly where in your life these feelings have come from, and then challenging them to break the cycle.
Finding a Balance
Getting yourself out of this uncomfortable habit and finding a good balance of time to be by yourself, whilst also extending out to meet friends or explore the city, will help you gain a better understanding of yourself that you might have not gained otherwise. This will also help you out in any other future situation where you could have slipped into loneliness again. Once you have become more familiar with your new surroundings, you will start to get that ‘homely’ feeling you’ve begun to miss from home.
This better understanding of yourself, what makes you tick, and a better sense of self-awareness can also make you a more empathetic and understanding person to your friends, relieving a little more of those social anxieties trapping you in these cycles.