Starting at a college or university after successfully finishing high school is a time of great pride and honour, but it can also be a time of emotional upheaval and difficult adjustments. In an effort to help you ensure smoother sailing right from the get-go, especially if you are staying in student accommodation away from home for the first time, here are 5 tips for a healthier, happier varsity experience.
Nourish Your Body
Maintaining a healthy body is the first step towards maintaining a healthy mind, so make sure that you are putting in the extra effort in order to eat well and hydrate whenever possible.
Carry a water bottle with you to class and prepare a few nourishing snacks before leaving in the morning (carrot sticks, dried fruit and trail mix are all excellent options to try).
Talk it Out
When you first start varsity, you probably won’t have too many friends close by to turn to when you’re feeling homesick. Well, that’s what smartphones are for! Ring one of your old high school mates and have a chat. Better yet, phone mom and let her know how you’re feeling. There’s nothing quite like a mother’s support and kind words of advice to give you that boost you need to keep going!
Whatever you do, don’t internalise or bottle up your feelings – doing so can only lead to much bigger problems further down the line.
Get Some Sleep
All of the parties and Braamfontein night life opportunities are tempting enough for most students to sacrifice a few hours of sleep. However, to start with, especially as you are adjusting to your new life, sleep is more important than anything else.
Aim to get a minimum of 7 hours per night and you will reap the benefits of a stronger immune system and a refreshed mind ready to soak up information at your early morning lectures.
Exercise can do wonders for your body – and your mood! When you get that heart pumping, your body immediately starts releasing endorphins, which are natural mood boosters that will leave you feeling much happier than you did beforehand.
If you don’t have time during the day to hit the gym or have a run around the block, do so early in the morning or in the evenings after class, and you could even become a Saturday Parkrunner. Make sure you don’t exercise too close to bed time as it can take a while for your mind to be able to relax after a vigorous workout session.
Don’t Become a Slave to Stereotypes
We were all high school students before we started varsity, so it’s safe to say that none of us are immune to, or unfamiliar with, peer pressure. Unfortunately, not much has changed. At varsity, you will still likely feel immense pressure to fit in as the stereotypical student – party at least a couple of times a week, do the bare minimum to pass your classes and start dating the hottest guy/girl before the first month is through. Don’t let this pressure get to you. Part of the university experience is finding out who YOU are and embracing that person wholeheartedly. In short, you do YOU.
Ultimately, surviving varsity is all about being kind to yourself and doing all that you can to take good care of your body and mind. Remember, if you are struggling to adjust, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for help. There is plenty of support around you – from your friends and family to student groups and even online communities. Make use of it. Over the course of the next few years, you’ll be very glad that you did!