People might say meeting new friends at university is a breeze. But what if you don’t find it that easy? Or when you still feel lonely, even amongst all these new friends?
The pressure on students to be successful in both social as well as academic life can be quite high. No wonder the first weeks in university are overwhelming. You might meet lots of new people, but you might feel totally lost at the same time.
Mental problems and suicidal thoughts
The Guardian recently published an article about mental health problems among British university students. ‘A survey by the National Union of Students last year revealed that nearly 8 in 10 respondents (78%) had experienced mental health difficulties over the previous year and a third (33%) said they had had suicidal thoughts. Other surveys have shown that 1 in 5 students are self-harming.’
According to the survey the first few weeks in higher education can be challenging for vulnerable, new students. ‘Quite often you’ve moved geographically. It’s a completely different life. You’re out of your comfort zone and don’t know anybody.’
Try to connect
But you’re not the only one who feels lonely, sad or lost at times. You’re all in this together, and that’s exactly the key to build resilience in coping with loneliness. Most of us don’t need more than 5 to 10 close friends and relatives to feel loved. So look out for a few persons you can confide in; people you dare to open up to and connect with. It’s not about how many you say hello to you on campus, but about the quality of the relationships. Try these tips to make true friends:
1. Keep your door open when you’re in your room so people can stop by.
2. Spend a lot of time in the common areas to meet new people.
3. Join a student group. Look into the array of extracurricular activities.
4. Attend university events like Studio Erasmus. You find them on Facebook.
5. Get yourself a study buddy or join study groups.
6. Go out. Take a stroll in the park, go to the beach, visit the city center, etc..
7. Try to find a good balance between study, free time and social connections.
8. Make sure you get enough sleep. (Alcohol affects the quality of your sleep.)
9. Turn off your phone and connect in a true way when you are with others. You can always ‘like’ and ‘follow’ them later.
Get help if needed
Recognize that these thoughts and feelings of loneliness or sadness are normal, and that they will pass. Also don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need someone to talk to. Erasmus University has university psychologists. It is their job to support students with both study issues as well as psychological, social and/or emotional problems. If the university psychologists are unable to offer you the right kind of help, they’ll refer you to other support agencies.
Make an appointment now!
You can make an appointment for the open consultation hour. Here you can briefly discuss your symptoms to decide whether it will be worthwhile to refer you to the university psychologists. A consult takes about ten minutes and takes place between 15:30 and 16:15 on Tuesdays and between 15:00 and 15:45 on Thursdays. You can make an appointment here.