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How to Cope with Loneliness at University
In psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung’s words – ‘Loneliness does not come from having no people around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to you.’
Jung is spot on in his assessment! One can feel lonely despite being in the company of several people or even in a large crowd too. Loneliness is an inevitable and unavoidable feeling for all human beings; each one of us experiences such feelings at some time or the other in our lives.
Students at the universities are no exception to this feeling of isolation. It is pretty difficult for them to escape loneliness, especially if they are in their first year of university studies; more so if they belong to a foreign country. Jung, however, points out that if such students are able to understand their surroundings and adjust with their university life, then loneliness can never bother them!
It is true that every problem in the world has a solution and so has loneliness. But before that it is vitally important for you as a university fresher to understand the possible situations where you may experience loneliness. So, let’s explore three such situations where students majorly feel lonely along with their respective solutions…
Situation 1: Loneliness at classes
You may be one of those first year students who have little or no interaction with their peers. It might be possible that you are sitting alone during the course lectures or at the canteen and library among other places, whereas other students may be walking, studying or chatting in groups. This difference in socializing level can simply increase your loneliness.
But it’s natural not to make friendship with everyone since we can’t get along with all due to varying wavelengths (behavioral nature). It is a common problem on the university campus. Relax! It doesn’t stretch for long since by the end of the course, we can, at least, make one friend definitely.
Here are some useful tips that can help you gel with other students at the university campus:
- Reach out: When you share joy, it multiplies, but when you share problems then they reduce. Share your course/dorm related university problems with others. Forums like helpline and student unions can enable you to address your concerns so that you don’t feel lonely.
- Initiate: You can start a friendly conversation by saying ‘hello’ or giving a smile instead of avoiding others. The same reaction can be expected in return until the lecture starts and everyone becomes silent.
- Be positive: You need to keep a positive mindset. Talking in a negative way with others will only drift them away from you and invite loneliness.
Situation 2: Loneliness at dormitory
Yes, loneliness isn’t just restricted to classes but also haunts you at the university dormitory. When you are not a day scholar and staying far away from your home in a foreign land, your roommates become your new/extended family. But it is a known fact that students can feel lonely even in a crowd. You may also feel lonely when your dorm mates do not match up to your mentality. There may be chances that you are an introvert and prefer to surf the net while your peers are extroverts and want to party at pubs during the night. When you avoid their company, then all you are left with at the dorm is loneliness.
Here is how you can mix with the other students at the university dormitory:
- Make friends with like-minded peers: Find students in your dorm who would like to take an interest in the activities you enjoy. It may be surfing the net, watching television etc.
- Respond to others’ interest: Along with finding people with common interests, also try to involve yourself in the activities that your dorm mates find interesting. In such a way, you won’t feel neglected and lonely from the dorm crowd. But don’t do it just for the sake of it; ensure that you get involved in an activity that doesn’t bore you off.
- Build good relations: Great friendship is the enemy of loneliness at university campuses and dorms. So building good relationships by keeping a friendly attitude leads to great friendship.
Situation 3: Loneliness because of homesickness
Loneliness and feeling homesick are deeply related to each other. If this sickness affects you as a foreign student, it’s natural. You don’t need to feel guilty. The university environment is totally new when you are surrounded by professors whom you’ve never met before. The dormitory consists of peers you’ve seen for the first time, and you have to live with them for the next three to four years. All this is different from the surroundings that consisted of your parents, relatives and childhood pals. Even the university location may be entirely new to you from the city or town where you were born and had grown up. In such a new environment that the university provides, you are bound to face loneliness.
Follow the below given tips to get rid of homesickness:
- Visit your home occasionally: You can visit your parents once every weekend if you live in a different city or twice every year if you live in a foreign country. Just ensure that your university allows you to make such trips.
- A phone call to parents every day: Students feeling homesick can talk to their parents, relatives and old pals every night on the phone. But make sure that the calls are not lengthy ones as it will cost you much.
- Online chat with family/friends: If you have a personal Internet connection and laptop then go for video chatting with family or friends in your home town or country during free time. You can even introduce your dorm mates to family members or friends through these means and drive away your loneliness.
There are several students for whom it may not be possible to follow one or all of the above mentioned solutions due to some financial, time or other constraints. Such students may feel the urge to get counseled by experts just to get rid of their loneliness and enjoy their university life? If you are one of those students, then keep reading…..
Go for Individual (one-to-one) Counseling
You can talk to a counselor on a one-to-one basis to discuss the issue of loneliness and face the problem head-on. The counselor will help you gain confidence and boost your self-esteem. It will help you in facing any situation during university life, irrespective of whether you are with peers or alone. Being compatible in this aspect will never let you feel lonely.
Go for Group Counseling
You can try attending counseling sessions in small groups to realize that there are several other university students apart from you who suffer from the same feeling of isolation as you do. Apart from loneliness, there may be several other common hurdles that those students may also be facing at the university. You can provide each other support, compare and exchange notes and even get to know their viewpoint on a particular problem that you are facing. Initially, you may feel wary of attending group counseling but with time, your morale will be boosted. You’ll realize that you aren’t just the one tackling loneliness and numerous other problems at the university. Such counseling can help you offer new ideas to other students and receive warmth and co-operation in return.
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