Students' and Parents' Experiences
"Before coming to Sheffield University, I remember feeling a mix of emotions. A sense of excitement and positive anticipation were certainly high on the list. I got caught up in plans to decorate my room and concerns about how I would possibly fit all my belongings in one little car! It was these minor details that prevented me, and I'm sure my parents, from realising that I was actually going to University.
I was leaving home in a sense and would have to deal with not seeing my family and friends every day. It was when these small details were finalised a week or so before coming that the apprehension began creeping in for us all.
We were assured that these feelings of anxiety and, on my parents' part, concern, were normal but I felt uncomforted by those who had not themselves experienced university life first hand. That's where I can now help prospective students and their loved ones.
I can now tell you first hand that coming to university, whilst daunting, is fully rewarding. There is an unbelievable amount of support and advice available to all students, particularly first years, which is reassuring for the students and eases the concern felt by their loved ones back at home.
The first week, known as Intro Week, is a combination of subject orientation and assorted activities, ideal for getting to know new people. It took me only the first few days of this week to feel relatively settled, whilst the following week of lectures allowed me to get to know the routine I would be following.
It was at this point that I was assigned a personal tutor who is there to provide information and support. There is also a 'nightline' service which allows students to ring at any time, either to ask for information or just to chat about personal issues in complete anonymity.
In my case, however, the twenty or so girls living on my corridor, as well as the numerous friends made through my course or other events were enough to keep me going! I found that people were willing to go out of their way to help or just be friendly because everyone is in exactly the same position and experiencing the same problems and emotions that you are. I also found that deciding on a weekend to come home in four or five weeks' time really helped as it made me realise that I was not completely cut off from home.
Some were determined not to visit home for at least the first half of the semester. Whilst I would not have wanted to go home too soon for fear of missing out here, I did feel that if I wanted to go home for a weekend later on, there was no harm in doing so. It simply let me see family again and gave me refreshed energy to come back. I actually found that I missed University while I was at home, confirming how quickly I had settled in!
In general, the transition from home life to living and studying independently has not been completely straightforward for me or my family. There were ups and downs but, having now completed my first semester, I can honestly say that University life is not only rewarding but is an experience that I would not change for the world."