12 months ago on my first night at University I made my way down to the campus bar alone, I excitedly bought a pint of my favourite cider and within 10 minutes of arriving was making my way back to my flat still alone- this is how I spent the majority of my first week at university.
As someone who suffers from Asperger Syndrome there was a lot about starting university which was very difficult. I think what made it so hard for me is the fact that absolutely everything is new- the people, the places, the atmosphere, the expectations and the responsibilities. In fact things were so new I had no idea what to expect and as a result couldn't plan ahead; something I've always had a need to do. I need to be in control of just something and when I started university I really felt as though I had absolutely no control whatsoever.
For me rules and routine are an important part of keeping that control but during fresher's neither exist. I was lucky that my halls had a common room and each night of fresher's a nice group of young people hung out there playing card games and pool. Spending time there was a good alternative to being surrounded by noise and drunken people in the bars and clubs. However without my mother's voice screaming for me to 'set the table' each night, I found it hard to find the balance between socialising and eating enough to stay healthy.
Before I started university I joined the residences Facebook page and begun to chat to a few people who lived nearby me- this really made the weeks leading up to university a lot easier and I still talk to some of them today. Even if you're not in the same flat it's a good way to meet people who have similar interests to you or come from a similar area.
I was lucky enough that my next door neighbour, who contacted me a few weeks before the start of term, was a third year who knew the ropes and from the moment I arrived on campus helped me find my way around- whether it was by telling me what bus to get into town or pushing me to go and join societies at Fresher's Fair just having someone who I could trust made everything much easier. Not everyone can be so lucky when it comes to flatmates so if your university has a buddy scheme I would highly recommend signing up!
Signing up to societies and sports teams is also a key part of Fresher's Week. It's a great way to meet people who like the same things as you do. My first term of university I was very depressed and spent a lot of time alone in my room, as a result by the time I decided I wanted to start going to socials and meetings everyone had already bonded with each other and there wasn't really any room for me. Make sure you go right from the start, everyone there has either been through it or is going through it- they know exactly how you feel. As someone who is now on a society committee I can guarantee you won't be made to do anything you don't want to.
Two weeks ago I started my second year and I must say things are completely different. The biggest difference is probably the fact that this year in the first week of term I actually made a lot of new friends. Whether it was from the amount of time I spent with the guys from my society or just from chatting to people in the bar I think the thing that made all of this easier and more successful was the extra confidence that just a bit of knowledge gives. Knowing my way around the university and having familiar faces to support me along the way made me feel so much better about myself and the situation I was in.
Your first few weeks are going to be tough no matter how much you prepare for them. But as time goes on it will all become much much easier. As soon as classes start and routine becomes a thing everything will simply fall into place. So try not to over think things and as hard it is just go with flow as everything will turn out okay in the end, I promise!