Lia Al-Khalaileh shares her tips for new and old students entering university for the first time post-Covid restrictions.
Image description: The figure in this image is not unlike a student in the midst of a new year. Trying to find a bit of peace in the chaos of work, socialising, and even new environments is a hectic task. With a little bit of advice, we can try to find stability, and balance, just like our little blue friend in this beautiful collage has.
Many universities are returning to in-person teaching, integrating in-class with online tutorials in the new semester. This may be worrying for most students who have spent their time studying and taking exams online during the pandemic. Remember: it is perfectly okay to feel nervous when meeting new people and starting the new year, or perhaps when entering classes for the first time in a while. Here are a few helpful tips you could practice composing yourself for the new academic year after Covid-19.
1. Prepare Yourself for the Academic New Year
Every student’s post-covid academic year might be nerve-wracking for several reasons. Whether it is because of meeting new people or entering a class filled with strangers, a method you could practice coping with those situations that are outside of your ‘comfort-zone’ is by preparing yourself and coming up with a strategy you can incorporate when talking with others.
Just like a job interview, you prepare yourself beforehand to increase your confidence and feel less anxious. Depending on the situation that makes you most nervous, you could incorporate a similar method. For example, if you feel anxious meeting new people, you could prepare yourself by thinking of some conversation starters beforehand like, “Tell me about yourself” or, “What are you most excited about now that Covid is easing up?” Having those questions in mind when talking with strangers is a confidence booster as you will know what you are going to say; if there is ever an awkward pause between you and the other person, you then will have a question in mind to hand. Coming up with your own strategy for anxiety-inducing situations can be very helpful. By starting to practice these methods, you will soon become a pro and overcome what makes you most apprehensive!
2. Put Yourself Out There
At times, starting a new academic year or university for the first time can feel quite intimidating. Many of you may be moving to a new city or country for the first time too. Through different social media platforms, or using university student associations, you can find unique ways to branch out and try something new. Perhaps a sport or society will catch your eye, or maybe you could reintroduce some old hobbies you may have? As they say, ‘The world is your oyster’ and if you don’t push yourself too far, then there are endless possibilities to create a new safe environment to connect with people.
3. Be Patient with Yourself
It is always important to keep in mind that most things do not happen overnight. We must be patient with ourselves and remember that the best things happen with time. This is key to keep in mind when starting university again since we can feel like we are stuck at times or that things aren’t going the way we had planned or would want. When this is the case, remember that it might be for the best. Trying to stay positive is so important although it can be very hard. Exercising positive affirmations and patience is one way to incorporate this into your daily life. As students, particularly, when starting a new year in our education, we need to be patient with ourselves. Remember that, whatever it is we are dealing with, it will become better with time!
4. Always Remember, You Are Not Alone
At difficult times, we tend to feel alone and in a state of ‘limbo’. However, you are never alone. Every student is probably feeling the same way, whether it is starting university and leaving home for the first time, being afraid of making new friends, or starting a new course, you will always find someone going through circumstances. So, to reiterate, you are never alone. Discuss with those you trust about what you are dealing with; talk with as many new people as possible as you might find someone who is dealing with the same concerns you may have. If you are stuck with a certain subject, talk with your tutor or university for help. Always remember that there are people there for you if you need help.
This article was written by Lia Al-Khalaileh, a third-year International Business Management student at Heriot-Watt University. The artwork in this piece was sourced by Ana King, a fourth-year History of Art student from the University of Edinburgh and edited by Tamara El-Halawani, a fourth-year Molecular Genetics (Biological Sciences) student also at the University of Edinburgh.