Anna Bouziane who was the winner of our internal French Connection article contest, talks about her dreading experience when first came to the university.

One thing my few (two) friends will tell you is that I’m more of a reserved individual (read: anti-social). I describe myself as an ambivert who needs her alone time to function. That’s why my first choice of accommodation were the Houses: small enough to not be drowned by the sea of people living in one place, yet still allowing 4 to 6 people to live together, a possibility of companionship. I had already pictured myself there, living a tranquil, quiet yet active life on campus. Sadly, my life never really goes as planned. Maybe you’re one of those lucky few who have it all figured it out but, — Alas! — I am not. Which is why instead of the pleasant Houses, I ended up in the lovely (that, I had yet to establish) and loud (that, I was painfully aware of) North Towers. 

I will always remember my first day at University of Essex. The day when I missed my flight to London and had to get up at 5 to get another one on time, when I cried my eyes out in the parking lot, waving goodbye to my mom as I was watching her reverse. As you can see, I was off to a great start. Unexpectedly, I turned it around and found my place here at Essex. So, here’s my advice on how to make university your home. 

First, you will need some posters, photos of your friends and family, tapestries or drawings. Put them on your walls. Everywhere. Buy a nice blanket and a cute lamp. Am I encouraging consumerism? Yes. And yet, it’s not about buying things you don’t need, but about making your room a place where you feel comfortable, a space that resembles you and where you feel safe. 

Buy some fairly lights and put it around your bed!

Then, take a deep breath, look at some inspiring quotes on Instagram — and maybe watch a TED Talk or two if you’re really shy — and talk to someone you don’t know. If there is one thing I learned at university, it’s that everyone is scared of ending up alone during freshers’ week. Go up to that dude with the weird haircut that you like and make a new friend. I met one of my best friends in the queue to registration. Don’t underestimate small talk. 

Try out new things. You’ve always wanted to learn how to sing? Or dance? You’re really passionate about photography? Chances are, there is a society just for that. If you’re feeling homesick, try to find people from a similar ethnic background, or from the same country as you. Essex is an incredibly multicultural university and the home of many international students. Call your friends and family to share all those new experiences with them. 

Finally, never forget that feeling lonely and scared at university is something we all experience at first. Everything will fall into place at one point – at least that’s what I tell myself.  

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