Starting College!

Posted on: 21/10/2009

By Frankie Koehler

Your hands are shaking; you look around the classroom trying to identify a single familiar face. Even if it’s not someone you usually talk to, you just want someone you know so you don’t feel totally alone. Remember that feeling when you first started college?

The worry and anxiety of how you will cope and how people will act with you. Your new tutor group, you find, is full of faces you have never seen before so you really want to make friends, but you aren’t quite sure if you should talk to them.

Some lucky people found in their tutor group they had one or two people they knew. The more unfortunate had none. I was one of the unfortunate. I had no one I knew in my tutor group and nearly everyone from my secondary school had enrolled here! So I knew what I had to do, what I’m sure you will all be familiar with, I had to find a friendly face and start talking. Nervously trying to make conversation, hoping the stranger wouldn’t bite my head off. Some probably would, but most wouldn’t, as starting a new college we were all in the same boat. We were all unsure of who to talk to, but as I learnt, you never know unless you try.

 So after that excruciatingly long tutorial period on the first day where hours were spent getting to know people, it hit home. I had to do it again. In all of my subjects. I bet, like me, you found yourself at break time frantically swapping lesson times, rooms and teachers with your friends from school. Hoping that you would have at least one of them in each of your lessons. It’s seldom though that happens. So it’s back to those trusty friend making skills.

At the end of the first day I was absolutely exhausted. I hadn’t had to work like that for about three months. Then I realised that the next few days were going to be tough, not only because I would have to return to old learning habits, but the effort of getting to know new people, trying to put names and faces together, because I don’t know about you but I feel rude about having to ask people’s names repeatedly. If I couldn’t remember someone’s name, I’d sneak glances at their books or folders, or if we were with other people, I’d hope someone else would mention their name.

But I’ve always been hopeless at remembering names. I remember faces, but names are harder as there are so many people you meet. Whenever I didn’t remember a person’s name I would avoid using it, refer to them as “thingy”; or occasionally I would ask. The funniest thing is nine times out of 10 the person had forgotten my name too, but we both didn’t want to seem rude and ask. So starting college tests the ability of your memory and social skills as well as the subjects you have signed up to learn.

You slowly start to learn your timetable and names of those you meet. By the end of the week the pain of having to tear yourself out of bed for college each day has sunk back in, and the eagerness to get to college has been drained from your system.  You have met people in your classes and are starting to form new friendships. The nerves of knowing no one has left you, and the dread of the piles of work has taken over…


2 Responses to "Starting College!"

So true! Especially about the swapping timetables with friends.

Pity a thought for those who come with no one from their old school. Two of us enrolled at Symonds in my year, and the other girl left after 2 days, leaving me completely and utterly alone and knowing nobody. On my fourth day, fed up of being alone, I asked a girl I recognised from one my my classes if I could go and sit with her and her friends when I ran into her at lunchtime. They are still 3 of my closest friends, and I left 3 PSC years ago!

Those first few weeks were life-defining for me, as they made me come out of my shell and talk to people, to be forward and to start conversations, skills which have made a big difference to my life, and that certainly helped me in my first few weeks at university too.

Remember that everyone feels a bit overwhelmed, but if you see people looking completely alone, invite them to join you: think how you would feel in their shoes. If you are one of the lucky ones from a local school, try to branch out and meet new people. If you don’t, you may miss out on the best friend you would ever have made!

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