Starting university is overwhelming.
The work required is more independent and there’s lots of it too. We are expected to get the hang of it quite quickly. All of this alone can cause anxiety levels to spike.
When we take into account the fact that so many people are moving away from their homes to start this next part of their life, we can see that ‘moving anxiety’ can become a real detriment to one’s state of mind.
Moving can cause anxiety with packing, leaving family and friends, meeting new people, and even just sleeping in a new room. Luckily, many, many people who go to Charles Sturt University moved from out of their hometown to study. So, you’re not alone! Through other’s experiences we can learn different ways to deal with this anxiety and move into the fun and excitement of this experience.
Here are the four main things that I was anxious about when I moved out of home, and how I worked through them:
This can be the most exciting, but most stressful part of moving. Have I remembered everything? Have I packed too much? Too little?
The answer is: it ultimately doesn’t matter.
If you’ve forgotten your phone charger: university is not in the middle of nowhere. There are shops, you can always just buy another one.
If you’ve packed too much: most of the time there can’t be “too much”. If stuff doesn’t fit, you can find some storage, and take it home when you can, or get a family member to take it back with them if they came to help move you in.
If you’ve packed too little: once again, hit the shops! It is almost definite that you will need to buy more things when you arrive; a fan, a bedside table, more shoes. Whatever it be, it is easily fixed and not worth the anxiety.
Leaving family and friends
For many people, this is completely new territory. For those who are moving straight from high school into university, you may not have been away from your family for a long period of time. This can lead to home sickness, and anxiety trying to discover how to live independently.
Even though this feels overwhelming, there can be ways to settle in.
Firstly, video chat is your best friend. Whether it is FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom, being able to see your family and friends is so nice after a hard day of work. Setting up a schedule to talk every night, or every few days gives you something to look forward to, and so you can consistently connect and catch up.
Secondly, even though this is not always possible, visiting home when you can be not only a great way to catch up. It can also make you realise that the time you spend apart is something you can do. When you first leave, it feels like you’re going away for good, and it’s a massive goodbye. When I visited home for the first time, I realised that it wasn’t as sad to say goodbye, because I knew I would see them very soon. Whether you travel home every two weeks, or two months, or only ever in the holidays, it will never be forever.
Meeting new people
Leaving home means that you are going to be surrounded by completely new people. You might be thinking; will I actually make friends? What if no one talks to me? How do I start the conversation?
This anxiety is probably certain for everyone. No one knows exactly who they’re going to meet, and what will happen.
The best advice for this is to stop and realise; every other first-year is in the same position. They also want to make friends, they want to talk to you, and say hi. Don’t be afraid to sit next to that person you recognise from that one time in the dining hall. Even if you’re not close yet, this doesn’t mean you can’t hang out and become good friends. Making friends with your dorm mates, will make the year so much fun. Leaving your door open, and not being afraid to be in the common areas will allow you to connect with everyone so quickly.
Jumping right in and talking to everyone you meet is the best way to release some built-up anxiety.
Sleeping in a new room
You’ve moved in. There’s nothing left to do, expect perhaps prepare for class. Anxiety can still creep in, even after all the hard work is done. This might not be relevant for everyone, but many people struggle to relax in an unfamiliar area, especially waking up in a different room to what you’re used to. This can be difficult to overcome, but the anxious feeling you may get in the mornings in your new room, will ease. It just takes time. Although this is not easily fixed; it won’t feel like that forever and you can always just walk down the hall to hang out with people if you’re feeling anxious.
The biggest learning
The main takeaway from this information is that moving is stressful. You will probably get anxious, even if you’re excited and looking forward to it. But the fact is, it will not stay this way. There are these little tips to help with what I consider to be the main anxiety provokers (at least they were for me). There are the people around you who want to be your friend and help you settle, and there are also many support services with counsellors on and off campus.
University is a fun and exciting time, and don’t let your anxiety or stress hold you back. We can overcome it together; be kind to yourself!
If you are a Charles Sturt student in need of support, please visit the Support services web page.
Written by Grace Carpenter