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Dealing with big life changes and transition

Starting at University can be one of life’s big transitions. You may well have already been through a number of life transitions in your life, e.g. starting nursery or a new school, starting a new job or moving house.

It is likely that all of these situations will have required you to learn about and get used to new surroundings, form new friendship groups, form new working relationships with new people and generally overcome any apprehension or anxiety you may have encountered along the way. The good news is that you have survived these transitions and you are here now… Congratulations!

The transition to University does have the potential to be a little more challenging as you are more likely to be managing a good deal of things on your own. You can bet it won’t all go smoothly but it won’t be dull either!


Below are some tips to help you tackle this new chapter in your life in a positive way.

  • Expect to feel sad at times: Whenever people move forward in life they often leave something behind. This often creates a psychological state of loss and/or grief, however small. There will be times when you feel sad and you may wish for your old life back. This is normal and it is best to accept these feelings and simply let them pass… They will.
  • Remember you have managed change and transition before: Try to think back to what helped you and who helped you and try to rely on these resources again. Also remember that you did get through it last time, of course! 
  • Embrace the opportunities: These may not be obvious to you initially, or may not be what you expected. Try to aware and open to what comes your way over the next few months as a lot of them can be identified as great opportunities if you view them in that way.
  • Don’t take too long to get started: It is completely understandable that you may be nervous about the many new situations you will experience over the next few weeks. However, each new thing you bravely do will give you the confidence to tackle the next one. The alternative is to stay in your comfort zone all the time. This is the safe option and will not be stimulating, exciting or stretch your ability. It really is about taking things in small steps and slowly pushing yourself a little further. 

Get support: There is a lot of support available at your University.

Your Senior Resident Tutor

If you reside in halls of residence your Resident Tutor will be a great source of support to you.

Student Development and Well-being

On the first floor of the Gateway Building at Hope Park we have a team of specialist, trained professionals to support you.  The team consists of Counsellors, a Mental Health and Well-being Adviser, Disability Support Advisers, Careers Advisers, Welfare Benefits Adviser and Support Administrators.  Drop in or call us at any time during 9am-5pm for assistance.

The Chaplaincy

Located to the rear of the Eden building, the Chaplaincy staff are another great source of ongoing support.

Your Departmental staff

Staff within your course or Department team will do all they can to support you, all you need to do is ask.  

Your new University friends

It could be easy to think that everyone else around you seems to be fitting in and coping just fine.  This may not be the case, however, and others may be struggling… they may just be good at not looking that way!  Talking to others will often reassure you that you’re not going through things alone.

Last but by no means least your family and friends back home

The people you left back home who cared about you still care about you and will want to offer you moral support when you’re finding things difficult. Health warning! Try not to become too dependent upon the support of family and friends when things get tough as you will need to develop other ways and mechanisms of coping at these times. This is often what makes us stronger as a person.  


Give it time! Only time will tell how long it’s going to take you to adjust to your new life and surroundings. This is different for everyone, so be positive, be patient, be proactive and talk to people if things get tough.