For something that almost every student will experience whilst at university, loneliness is not something that students generally talk about. I would love to break the stigma and get people talking about what makes them feel lonely at university and ways to prevent the feeling from becoming overwhelming. So, yes, this post is a bit of a serious one for a change!
Firstly, I have to say that maybe not everyone will experience loneliness at university, and it definitely should not be something that puts you off moving away for university or even going at all. I say most people will experience it because there are bound to be moments, days, weeks or even months where we as students don’t feel that same excitement and motivation to be at university and make the most of it as we did when we first arrived here, and that is often caused by being alone.
Being at university does not inherently make you alone of course: you live with flatmates from your first day of first year; you are in classes of up to 200 people daily; you might be involved in societies or clubs where you meet many new and different people every week. However, loneliness can arise when you least expect it, even when you are surrounded people. Especially when you are surrounded by people.
Sometimes, university becomes a very overwhelming experience due to the sheer volume of people you talk to every day. And sometimes, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, these interactions can make you exhausted. This can then lead to loneliness, because you feel like you’re the only person in the city, or in the university, who feels this way and doesn’t want to be around people 24/7. In fact, we all feel this every once in a while.
We can be very tempted to lock ourselves away in our rooms, ignore our flatmates and even skip classes, reducing the amount of those interactions. However, this merely exacerbates the problem. We end up spending far too much time alone, and giving ourselves far too much time to overthink and worry about things such as your friends and family at home, or how your studies are going, or even how you’re doomed to be forever alone because you’ve just had no luck with your love life so far at university.
In reality, the best way to combat this feeling of loneliness is to reassess what your limits are when it comes to social interactions, and then put those limits into practice. You don’t want to force yourself to do too much, but if you know you’re always tempted to stay in your room for days on end, you should probably push yourself out of your comfort zone and get involved in some societies, for example, alongside of course attending all of your classes. As well as this, you don’t want to spend so much time doing fun, exciting activities with societies and clubs that it takes a toll on your studies. You really need to learn how to balance your social and work lives.
In addition, you should try your best to stay in touch with people outside of university. For example, have weekly catch ups with your friends and family from home over the phone, and even spend weekends at home or invite friends and family to stay in Dundee for a few days. These connections are truly what keep me sane because if I was surrounded by university life 24/7 and never left the bubble, I’m sure I’d drive myself crazy.
I’d just like to remind you that we have all felt these feelings and you should never feel alone. If these sorts of feelings, or any for that matter, are getting you down, don’t hesitate to use our student services to find the help you need.
Apologies if this seemed quite down and depressing, but I really do believe this is something that needs to be addressed!