It is more common than you think

By Bryony Hawkins, Local Life Editor

Our campus is once again filled with bustling students, working hard to earn their degrees now that the freshers’ parties and events have concluded. Now that everyone has settled in, to all the freshers, how are you finding everything?

Are you keeping on top of all your assignments? Are you struggling to maintain a healthy sleep schedule and routine? Have you started to feel homesick and want to see your family and pets? Have you gotten to know anyone besides your flatmates? Perhaps spoken to someone from the opposite side of the world to you? While all these opportunities can be fun and exciting, some may find all these questions overwhelming and there being an expectation to get involved, which is not the case. If you have not found your people just yet there is no need to worry, chances are they are just as nervous as you to push themselves out of their comfort zone. Still the doubt and insecurity may drift in when you least expect it and start to build up. You may feel a bit of panic about not barely knowing anyone at Uni yet and find yourself alone in your room endlessly scrolling through TikTok out of boredom (we’ve all been there)

However, sitting there and feeling sorry for yourself will not get you anywhere. As I am an introvert myself, I can sympathise and there are moments when I would love nothing more than to sit by myself with a cup of tea and be by myself. but I will be honest—during my first year, loneliness just seeps in when you least expect it. I believe it is important to address this so that students don’t feel like they’re struggling alone and realise that the majority of people feel the same way.

Loneliness at Uni is a common occurrence, according to a BBC report I just read, “nearly one in four students are lonely most or all of the time.” This made me reflect on everyone I meet who may appear to be joyful and cheery most of the time but hides their genuine emotions. I therefore decided to write this article to address how debilitating loneliness can be, especially at this time of year when students are under pressure from their assignments. When you feel like you have no one to rely on to help and support you in need, it can result in your university experience being not a great one.

Going for walks is one of the things I do to help myself when I am feeling this way; sometimes getting a chance to clear my head in a new environment can have quite an impact. All it takes is a smile to brighten someone’s day. Reading fiction also acts like an escape from reality for me which takes my mind off things for a while.

I have reached out to some freshers about their experience so far being at university and coping with being away from home. One of my closest friends in his first year, Matthew Thompson, has agreed to share his experiences of feeling lonely at Uni and how he overcame them.

  1. How lonely do you feel at Uni, be as honest as you like?

It varies from day to day, although I remember the first two weeks being the most difficult. I had been fortunate to be in touch with three of my flatmates prior to moving in, but outside of my flat I knew nobody.

I gradually made connections with course mates, finding some like-minded people too. Despite that, I still feel alone most days because I feel I have not got someone who 100% gets the real me, and I sometimes have to put on a mask and only show the parts of myself I am confident people will like me for.

  1. How do you find others looking for friends? For example, joined societies or met up with others on your course?

The Meet (in my case the Psychology Meet) was a huge help in finding friends on my course before the lectures and seminars began. I am still good friends with a number of the people I met there.

More simply, it was just sitting with others who were by themselves in lectures and seminars and building connections from there.

  1. Can you give any recommendations of activities that have helped you feel less alone? Either stuff you can do by yourself or with friends?

This is difficult to answer since I know it varies from person to person. However, for me I try to have regular phone calls or video calls with friends and family from home. Just hearing their voices usually makes me feel less cut off from them (although I have enjoyed the independence). Then there’s more simple activities like eating dinner together in the kitchen with flatmates, or journeying down to Brighton for the afternoon with friends from my course. Or even just a hug can make me feel so much better.

  1. Who can you talk to if you are feeling lonely? Do you feel the uni gives out enough support to students?

I have close friends I feel comfortable opening up to and am getting better at being honest with family too.

I cannot say I have used the Uni’s support services myself yet though I am aware of Sussex Nightline and counselling being available to me should I want/need it.

  1. What is your best piece of advice for people also struggling with being alone at Uni?

I strongly disagree with the idea that “everyone is in the same boat” Some come to Uni knowing exactly what they want to do and others, like myself, have no clue what they’re doing. Some want to go out clubbing and drinking, whilst others, again like myself, would prefer to go to quiz night or just relax in the flat.

Being lonely is a completely understandable feeling, moving away from home. I imagine it is particularly difficult for international students. I have struggled with loneliness even before coming to university and I would honestly recommend just making the first move. If I can suggest anything at all, it would be to be kind. You have no clue what someone could be going through. Go up to that person on their own in your seminar, help that person find their workshop, or even just smile at someone. Make them feel less invisible. You never know just how much someone might need that.

Featured Image Courtesy of The Guardian (

Categories: Local Life

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