A fresher once more: facing the fear of starting over

Your journey through life won’t be a straight line, and that is okay.

By Shanice Natalia

We are told change is always good, but it is also a daunting prospect.

I had to learn all about change the hard way this summer, where I learnt the importance of putting my needs first. It’s not selfish to prioritise your mental health and wellbeing, remember that.

This summer, I decided to follow my instinct, and took the plunge of changing university. It would mean starting life as a fresher again at Royal Holloway, University of London. This decision brought a lot of fear especially over the opinions of others, most importantly my family and friends – what would people say? However, I knew that I had to overcome these concerns and be courageous. It was time to pursue what I felt most inclined to do: change university.

I completed my first year from 2016-17 at another university where I studied Economics with International Relations. Unfortunately, my year centered around my academic timetable, with a lack of social interaction between fellow students and myself. The absence of extra-curricular activities to take part in outside of lectures left me feeling isolated, and not what I imagined as a first-year student. The excitement I once had at the prospect of University soon disappeared, which led to a deterioration of my mental health and wellbeing. Life soon began to solely revolve around attending lectures and revising. A mistake I made when applying for universities is not carrying out enough research beforehand. Especially to what is available aside from all the books and learning. I soon learnt that that this university was not necessarily best suited for me, as it may have been for someone else.

Although I struggled to achieve the ‘uni experience’ that all my other friends at various universities were achieving, I gave my university the benefit of the doubt, gave it my all, and despite the struggles of feeling somewhat alone I pushed myself to complete first year.

A weak attribute many students have is the inability to express their true feelings in order to avoid disappointing others – i.e. family. However, the thought of experiencing another two years of discontent was a much greater fear for me, so I was determined to change my university direction. I began researching what was available to me as a current undergraduate, and I was able to apply through UCAS. After successfully achieving a place at Royal Holloway through clearing, I was offered the chance to study Economics with Spanish BSc in September 2017.

Some may say that this year was wasted, but I would beg to differ. I have learnt so many life lessons, which have led me to become a stronger person and have ultimately shaped who I am today. I would say not to give up, but give yourself happiness in your environment.

Words of Wisdom:

  • Trust your gut. That feeling when you just know something is right or wrong.
  • Don’t be afraid if something is out of your comfort zone. You will adapt.
  • Carry out research. Try to reach out to people who are already there. Social media can be a great platform.



Shanice Natalia

Featured image courtesy of The Guardian

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