How To Settle Into University… During A Global Pandemic

Posted 1 Sep 2020
By Dr Dominique Thompson

Moving to university is always exciting, and a bit of a challenge, but never more so than in 2020, the year of the COVID pandemic!

First of all, let me congratulate you on getting through what has been a pretty exhausting obstacle course of homeschooling, life upheaval, spending 24/7 with your family, and a results day/clearing fiasco, to make it this far. 

You ‘COVID kids’ are nothing if not resilient and flexible, so I’m sure you are going to totally nail settling into a new university/city/course over the next few weeks.

Settling Into University 


So here are a few tips to smooth the path for you, and make sure you have as much fun getting settled into uni life as possible with Coronavirus still floating about.  

These are my top 5 tips for new 2020 university students (with a quick reminder of what to do if you are finding things difficult too).

  1. The number one thing you can do to protect your wellbeing is to build a network of friends. It will take time, and they will come from your course, your accommodation, your clubs and societies, or a part-time job, but the important thing is to connect with lots of new people. Over time you will discover who is most fun or like-minded, but to start with talk to a wide range of people, including plenty who are different from you. And smile!
  2. A great way to meet new people is to volunteer. It is brilliant both because you are helping others, whilst making the world a better place, AND it makes you feel good about yourself. But it is also excellent for making new friends. Win-win!
  3. Get stuck into your academic work, but don’t overdo it. Pace yourself. Too much time on a screen will make you tired and inefficient. Mix your work methods- books, online and talking to people who know about the topic. Watch out for the ‘mid-term blues’, when you can feel a bit run down and tired, especially if you work too hard straightaway. Take a day off if you are starting to feel a bit flat.
  4. Eat some fresh food every day (not just snacks and takeaways), get outside and be active each day, and most importantly – SLEEP! You need 8-9 hours a night to stay in a good mood, learn effectively and keep your weight steady (yes - a lack of sleep leads to weight gain!).
  5. And finally- if you are struggling, remember you are not alone. Talk about it. All over the university there are people trained to support you, and help sort things out with you; in your accommodation, the student services (including the counselling service), your academic tutor, and of course the local GP surgery. They can all offer advice and practical help. Don’t ignore problems, talk to someone you trust, and sort things out.

Things are going to feel pretty hectic, and it will be weird (but essential) to have to follow COVID rules whilst meeting new people and settling in, but if you follow these tips and take care of your wellbeing, you should find things a little easier and still lots of fun. 

You’ve got this far- you can absolutely do this! Enjoy! 

Check out our guide to 2020 clearing, or our quarantine support for international students.

For more advice or support on how to go to uni, or cope with anxiety, depression or unhealthy behaviours as a student, check out Dominique’s Student Wellbeing Series of books

Posted 1 Sep 2020
By Dr Dominique Thompson