If I thought that the preparations for entering university was hectic, and that upon entering university, the dust will settle and I could learn to slowly adapt, boy, was I ever wrong. Orientation week was chaotic. We freshies slept in the wee hours of the morning and had to wake up before sunrise.
However, tiring as it definitely was, I felt that it was like being a part of a big family where your college mates will back you up. Even so, the first week in an entirely new environment has its ups and downs for me.
1. University life is a far cry from home.
Right. I thought I knew this. I thought I had everything covered based on what I heard from other people. But there are times we need to actually experience something to really feel it.
Before entering university, I know that there won’t be hot water and that there are only shared bathrooms and toilets. I thought I could cope. So far, I’d like to think I did. But truth is, I’m dreadfully out of my depth here. I’m sure I can shoulder all of this and carry on, but the one big difference between university and home is that here living in a hostel, I don’t have my mum with me (Yes, I’m attached to her). I miss her cuddles and kisses.
I told her this before and I’ll say it here too: Home is where my mum is.
Aww… I promised myself I wouldn’t cry when writing this post and here I am leaking like a broken faucet.
2. Homesickness is much more devastating than I thought it was.
According to Dr. Klapow, a clinical psychologist, and I rephrase, homesickness consists of thoughts and feelings tied to home which happens with varying degrees.
I guess in my case, I underestimated homesickness. I had a pang of homesickness every day and it happens at unexpected moments. This morning, I was sitting in the hall listening to a speech and suddenly, I’d felt like crying. The same goes for the previous days of the orientation where I’d shed a few tears when I hear or remember something that reminds me of home.
After reading this article though, I begin to feel better. Praying works for me too, as long as my emotions does not fill every nook and cranny of my mind and I forget every other thing.
3. Learning to do my own laundry.
Confession time: I hardly ever do my own laundry. My mum shares that chore with the washing machine. Throughout my twenty years, I’ve only done laundry twice or thrice. Shameful, I know. But I thought that by knowing the theory, the practical job of actually washing clothes would be a breeze. This is certainly the walk of shame for me.
It’s never too late to learn though. And I’m learning now.
4. Sometimes late night activities serve to help freshies settle in and help alleviate homesickness
Some new undergrads might think that late night activities are created for only one purpose: To make orientation week a living hell for them. Well, perhaps some university might do that with that intention in mind but fortunately, not mine.
On the other hand, it all depends on perspective. If I don’t look at it from a negative angle, I wouldn’t be resentful towards others and I would be able to just enjoy the activities albeit with heavy lids.
It’s a good thing that the facilitators for my batch of undergrads were caring and cheerful. Even by just observing them, it wasn’t difficult for me to admire them.
5. Learning to live in a room with other roommates
Being a single child, I’m sure that all single children would be used to having a room all to themselves where they can do anything and everything they wanted in their own room.
Even though I did not exactly use my room when I was at home, I do have certain idiosyncrasies that I show. Being in a new environment with people who don’t know me all that well, it’s important that I learn to tone down my default manner when I’m in my personal space. Another important thing to learn is to be patient and tolerant.
6. Time management
University isn’t the same thing as primary and secondary school. Here, no one is going to wake me up if I’m late (although the facilitators did exactly that when I overslept on the second and third day of orientation).
I’m expected to know and keep to my own schedule and at the same time, I’m required to be able to take part in programs and other club activities. At the same time, I need to eat properly, bathe and do all my chores and assignments. I would have to be able to wake on time in order to catch the bus and I need to find time to pay a visit to the library frequently.
In addition, I also need to fit in time to read and post on this blog. I do not intend to give up on this blog after all the work I’ve done. But I’ll have to cut down on the reviews. Who knows, maybe entering university will change my perception to the books I read.
7. Learning to be independent
This goes hand-in-hand with time management. I can’t expect to always have someone by my side all the time to help me. Learning to pick myself off the ground, brush myself and still face the world with the smile is what it means to be independent to me.
I know I’m going to have days I’ll be moping around but I have to know that there’s a time and place for everything. Although I’d be very happy if I could find someone to help cheer me up here, I’d settle with cheering myself up myself. After all, I’m sure there are other students who are also keeping their emotions close to them.
8. Getting to know myself better
Although I’ve only been here for five days, I learnt that there are many things I have yet to learn. For example, how to grab all my toiletries and rush to the shower room and actually shower quickly. No more attached bathroom for me now.
It’s also when I know myself better that i know what to change. The one thing I have always wanted to change was my inability to talk in crowds. To change that, I decided to join the debate club. I can’t always hide behind excuses.
9. When feeling down, there’s nothing better than to reach out and talk to anyone
Previously I said that I’d cheer myself up by myself, but talking to the students near me helps me keep my mind off my negative emotions. In a way, I’m cheering myself up by talking to others. They don’t have to know that I’m down or homesick.
10. Learning how to mix and be brave
I’m not one for big groups and when my batch has almost 200 students, naturally, I’d panic. I’m introverted and shy so it’s difficult for me to talk to others. However, I gave it a try this time and actually, it feels pretty good to be able to talk to the person next to you. Regrettably, I didn’t do all that often.
11. Never leave things till the last minute
I experienced this firsthand when I put off registering myself for compulsory extra-curricular activities. I would have liked to join the handcrafts or taekwondo programmes but because I took too long to register, now I have to resign myself to stage management programme. It sounds interesting though.
12. Google can’t answer every question and provide every information; sometimes the better option is to simply ask.
My usual answer for everything I don’t know was “Go Google it” previously. But not everything can be Googled easily. A good example is how my university functions and how I have to register my courses online. Asking someone is the better option in this case..
These are what made such a big impact on me upon entering university. It’s now bookish but I can add something book-related here. Whenever I feel lonely and I tear up, I think back to Anne from Anne of Green Gables. She cried when she first left Marilla and Matthew to study away from home. She remained positive though. That’s how I encourage myself to take things day after day.
Everyone must have left home at certain points in life. Be it for work, studies or to travel around, we would have felt helpless and lost as we are surrounded by newness. How did you feel? And how did you overcome it? Feel free to comment.