How are you coping with uni? Final-year student Akie shares some ways to settle in
Starting uni isn’t always easy. The campuses are huge, sorting out your classes and study routines can be a challenge, and it may take a while to get to know people and feel like you belong. Being overwhelmed or a bit anxious is totally natural – you’re not the only person feeling this way! Please be patient and give yourself time to adjust.
Taking things slowly is even more important given that we’re coming out of two years of pandemic-related upheaval. Many people are feeling anxious about resuming old activities or are reluctant to be in large groups of people.
Hearing about other students’ experiences is always helpful. Final-year Biomedical Science student Akie, who’s also one of our amazing Wellbeing Ambassadors, has some great advice on how to ease the pressure and settle into uni.
How do you feel about returning to campus after two years of online learning?
Although long wished for, getting back to campus brought up anxieties of COVID and meeting my peers for the first time. But the excitement of finally being able to live my life as a uni student helped with the worry, and even grew into hope that this year would be more connected and livelier than the past two.
Can you describe your first few days back on campus?
Arriving for my first day felt simply surreal. It was incredible being welcomed by the friendly DUSA reps with warm smiles, food trucks with yummy food and fellow students who finally have a body and aren’t just floating heads on my computer.
Seeing my lecturers and peers in person and having conversations without lag and buffering made me so happy, and brought comfort and confidence. Greeting fellow students and catching smiles with all the lovely faces on campus felt like the perfect welcome back to uni life.
Uni can feel overwhelming sometimes. Any advice for students who are feeling anxious?
Recognising these emotions as valid is an important step in connecting with yourself and coping with being overwhelmed.
Progressing into my final year and knowing to expect a higher difficulty with my course commitments, plus the added anxiety of adapting back to in-person uni life, I’ve found myself worrying and being overwhelmed too. I knew it was important to share these feelings with my friends and family and recognise the support I might require. I practise healthy coping mechanisms – eating consistently, taking breaks, connecting socially – to help me stay on top of this exciting new challenge in my life.
Can you recommend any activities to help students settle into uni or get used to being back in big groups?
I start my day on campus earlier than my lectures and go for a nature walk by the on-campus creek near Elgar Road. Seeing people walk their pets by the creek always brings me joy.
To help with larger crowds and social anxiety, find calm spaces. In Burwood, the first and third levels of the library offer quiet study spaces, and many other buildings have an open space leading to nature, which allows for some calm if crowds get overwhelming. There’s also a queer room in Building C, which is a safe space to connect with people from your community. Remembering your limits with social exposure is key to managing anxieties. While being on campus is incredibly exciting, pace yourself to get comfortable with in-person learning.
Have you used any of Deakin’s student support services and how did they help?
Deakin has several peer-to-peer support programs, which are great with helping you connect with like-minded students. All students have access to free counselling services. While it might be daunting to seek support, you have six sessions to use whichever way you wish. I found it helpful to talk about uni, my relationships, my cats and explore ways to better manage time and handle stress.
You could also try …
The following may help you to make some friends, get stuck into your course content, and become familiar with Deakin’s campuses and systems:
- Join our New Students Facebook Group to chat to other commencing students.
- Attend one of the many on-campus and online activities and events.
- Make the most of any opportunity to make new friends. Take a chance and talk to people when you’re standing in queues, walking around campus or waiting in class.
- Plan your weeks and create a study timetable. Having a good routine can keep you motivated and organised when you’re feeling a bit lost.
- Go on a library tour. The library is full of important resources, but it’s also a great place for quiet study, reading or reflection.
- Ask questions in your classes. Chances are others want to know the answer too and engaging with your course content is an important first step to mastering it.
- Join one of DUSA’s club and societies. There’s something for everyone – from sports to languages to hobbies to study areas – and they’re a great way to meet people.
- Attend our THRIVE: Wellbeing and study success sessions. Running weekly in T1, these online workshops will give you essential skills to get the most out of yourself and your Deakin experience.
Still feel adrift? We can help
If you’re just not coping with uni, please don’t struggle on alone. There’s a range of health and wellbeing services that can help you.
For urgent support outside of business hours, contact Lifeline (13 11 14) or SuicideLine (1300 651 251) straight away. They’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.