We all know university is about more than just getting a degree. With so much emphasis on freshers week and the student party scene, it's easy to see why being able to have a social life is so important.
With the costs of student life rising even more, living at home can be the most economical option, however the long secluding distance from campus scares a lot of students because they don't want to miss out on the full university experience.
But, living at home and having a social life is not impossible.
Last year I moved from the Isle of Man to the UK to start my degree, choosing to live at home because of the costs. We worked it out and it was cheaper for my mum and me to move back to the UK than it was for me to live in accommodation.
The first six months were awful and I really struggled to settle into university life. I felt so isolated and alone. I would try to make friends with people but it just never worked out.
For the first term I spent most of my time on Facebook talking to my old friends, who live over 300 miles away. But only having friends you message and can't see in person or hang out with doesn't make up for that feeling of loneliness. By second term, though, I'd started to make friends after working out where I'd gone wrong the previous term and by the end of the university year I had really great social life. Here is how I did it:
When I got my acceptance letter the first thing I did was join all the Facebook groups for my year (as well as jumping up and down in celebration, obviously). I talked to a few people and we'd arranged to meet up freshers week but we never did. The freshers groups are definitely great for chatting and getting advice but if you really want to make friends rather than talking to people you won't ever see, join your university's societies Facebook groups. This way you can talk to people who have the same interests as you and who are more likely to meet up with you.
Freshers isn't everything
It's the first week of university and everyone is nervous and feeling alone. You try and make friends with everyone you meet so you have people you can talk to, even though you probably don't have anything in common with them or have completely different personalities. I met a few people during freshers and after the week was over I didn't hear from them again - but that didn't mean I wasn't going to be a loner for the rest of the year. Friends can be made all year round.
Join lots of societies
The more societies you join the more people you'll meet who will have the same interests as you. Plus you get invited to all the events and build up your social calendar. I joined a few societies after freshers but it wasn't until I joined our student newspaper that I started to socialize and go out more. Being apart of student media has been the best experience, not only because of being able to work on something I enjoy but also because I get to spend time with people who love journalism just as much as I do.
Go for quality rather than quantity
Having lots of friends and knowing lots of people can be great but living at home does restrict this a bit. However, having a close circle of friends that you know you can rely on and enjoy spending time with is a lot better than having lots of friends that you aren't close with. By the end of second term I'd made a few close friends who I would spend most of my time with and together we got through the overwhelming amount coursework.
Spend every moment you can at university
This was probably the biggest mistake I made. I'm quite shy so walking round a massive campus by myself and trying to talk to people was my worst nightmare. The only time I went on campus was for lectures and seminars as well as for my society meetings. Students in accommodation did the same thing however when they go back home they're with other students, whereas living at home you go back and isolate yourself. So, the best way to get a social life is to make sure you're on campus so you can actually meet people and make friends, rather than being home alone.