Initially I was nervous about moving to a new place and university. I previously struggled to fit in at my last university and I was bullied at school. I would be lying if I said that it was all rainbows and sunshine; it was tough at first, but I’m lucky that finding my place at York was something I was able to do.
I was placed in James College with 15 other students in my flat. I thought that surely I would click with someone else who I lived with in my flat, but I didn’t. Many people do become close friends with their first year flatmates, however, some people aren’t as lucky. I was one them…
As a graduate, I had less in common with the undergraduates in my house. I felt a maturity gap due to being older than everyone. Luckily, I went to a Mature Students’ Open Day before moving to York and it turned out that one of the people I’d met there was in the same college as me. She is now one of my best friends, and really helped in finding my place at York. We instantly clicked and went to the canteen together daily as we lived in catered accommodation.
Being in James College, I also had the York Sport Centre on my doorstep. I went to the gym most days to destress and met people there as well. My advice to others applying would be to not panic if you don’t get on well with your flatmates. There are so many other people at university that are in the exact same position as you. You will find your own squad even if it does take a bit more time than expected.
There are so many societies here at York, you can explore them on the University of York Students’ Union (yusu.org) website. We’ve got dancing, rowing, British Asian society and over 200 more. If none of the societies appeal to you, you can always start your own society or you could try something in Give it a Go Week.
Give it a Go Week allows you to try different activities or societies without committing to them for the full year. I went to sessions for the Dance Society and met lots of people there. I also went to Zumba every Tuesday evening and Saturday morning at the postgraduate college, Wentworth. This was a great way for me to meet other older students. There are societies specifically for mature students as well, which is another good way to get to know people of a similar age. I would recommend joining a society because you will meet so many new people and it will make it easier to settle in.
I also made good friends with other members of my college who were on my course, Medicine, because I saw them a lot it was an easy way to start talking. The medical school is very diverse and I have become close friends with people from all different backgrounds. I joined some of the medical school societies too, like netball, which allowed me to meet more people on my course. As a medical student you’re lucky as you get access to both the University of York and the Hull York Medical Schools’ societies, so you’ve got a lot to choose from.
I have found it a lot easier to fit in and finding my place at York than I did at my previous university. This is partly due to being on a campus because it allows more events to take place at the University. The college system is an excellent way to meet new people too, and the campus makes you feel safe because there is 24/7 security. You can also get the University bus (the 66) directly back to campus with other students when you’re on your way back from a night out. This made me have less anxiety about going out late at night because I knew that even if I was left on my own I could always get back to University safely.
Being catered also really helped me maintain a work-life balance and have social interaction because as a medical student I had a large workload. By having those slots for breakfast and dinner I could maintain a social life and catch up with friends in my college daily.
My advice would be to make the most of first year. Get to know a wide range of people and if you go to an event and see other people there just say hello and start talking. You may even end up being close friends!
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