December 12, 2022, by UoN School of English

The first Christmas as a university student

As we approach the end of the Autumn semester and many of us head home for Christmas, there is time to reflect. As someone who found it hard to settle into my first year at University, I remember how difficult it can be to go back home and adapt to the shift in routine after such an intense term.

A festive scene with a Christmas Tree, lit fireplace, presents, candles, wreaths and bows

Normalising the tiring and challenging lifestyle at university is extremely important and many people I know shared the experience of feeling exhausted and overwhelmed at this time of the first semester. Especially in first year after meeting so many new people and exploring new places, it is normal to still feel quite unsettled. I remember feeling excited to go home, but also sad to be apart from my new friends and apprehensive that returning in January would be like starting all over again. While sharing your feelings with your new friends may feel uncomfortable, it is often a gateway to the realisation that everyone is in the same boat, and you can all support each other.

Going home can bring lots of positives; family reunions, home comforts and a break from the non-stop nature of Nottingham life. However, this switch of routines and distance from friends can also feel strange. It can be easy to compare your university experiences to those of friends from home and feel like you’re living a kind of double life. Getting the balance between taking time to relax and keeping some structure of routine is tricky, but I would recommend trying to appreciate your time at home while also keeping in touch with uni friends no matter how spread out you may be. It is also helpful to co-ordinate when you’ll all return back to uni so this experience is less daunting. Inevitably you’ll have some assessments to work on over this period too, but from personal experience if you plan ahead, they’re not too bad!

A student simultaneously writes in a notebook and holds a laptop, a christmas setting with presents and flowers is behind them

If you feel particularly overwhelmed and are struggling to cope, the University counselling service is welcoming to anyone and is well equipped to listen and help with any concerns. The peer mentoring scheme is also a great way to talk to someone doing the same degree and who can relate to your university experiences. Having made use of these resources in my first year, I would highly recommend both for relieving any anxieties you have and making Uni life easier.

– Heather Millar

Posted in Student Words