A Small Fish in a Big Pond

Moving to university can be overwhelming. Usually, by the time you’ve reached year 13, your position in the fabric of the school is quite well established. You probably have a reputation, a core group of friends and you may even have started being on first name terms with some of your teachers. Then, all of a sudden, you get parachuted out of that familiar environment into Imperial- one of the best universities in the world, in a city like London, with thousands of new faces. Nobody knows who you are. It’s a clean slate. For some of you this may feel liberating, but for others it can be disorientating. If you fall into the latter category, I can sympathise with you. Coming from a school in Manchester with a year group of less than 70 people, nearly all of whom I’d gotten to know pretty well, suddenly being in a new environment with unfamiliar people felt strange. It felt almost like I didn’t have a place. As though I could just get lost among all of the new people and no one would notice. Whilst I do feel this is just a normal part of transitioning to university life, I thought I’d share with you a few thoughts and tips on how to feel less like a goldfish in the Atlantic Ocean.

  1. Join a club or society. A good way to feel part of something whilst at university is to join a club or society. One which you really enjoy. A fantastic thing about Imperial is that there are a ridiculous number of activities on offer so, no matter how boring you think you are, there will be something that interests you. I took part in East Meets West in first year which really helped me feel like I had a part to play at the university.
  2. Meet as many people as possible. That strange time during Freshers’ fortnight when everyone is asking you where you’re from and which halls you’re staying at may seem like a drag at the time but it is the best time to introduce yourself to as many people as possible. The more people you speak to, or try to remember the names of, the greater chance you have of seeing a familiar face when you’re waiting around on campus. Seeing people I had met before and stopping to talk with them really made me feel more a part of the wider community at Imperial. So, even if you’re starting to get sick of seeing new faces, try to push through and meet as many people as possible during the first month of freshers before asking someone where they live becomes a much less normal thing to do.
  3. Remember why you’re at Imperial in the first place. Never forget that you haven’t just landed up at Imperial- somebody chose you to get a place here. The likelihood is they chose you over quite a lot of other people. Whether it feels that way right now or not, you already are a part of the Imperial community. You don’t need to prove yourself or earn your place- the place is yours to keep.

As a final note, here’s a reminder that however you feel when you join university is valid. It can be a turbulent time with many changes but also offers a huge number of exciting opportunities. Take it at your own pace and remember you’re still the same proverbial fish- it’s just the pond that got bigger.

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