Fed up and Heading Home: My First Semester at University

Written by Trinity Barnatt

I packed up my room, and I moved back home.

I lasted 7 weeks in university halls, and I call that an achievement. In those 7 weeks, I moved flats due to conflict, self-isolated and endured a national lockdown. All of this, while being trapped in my cold, depressing uni room that never felt like home. It felt like I was on a residential school trip, where you’d go rock-climbing and abseiling and outdoorsy activities like that (PGL, for example, if anyone ever went there). To be honest, the whole Oadby student living experience feels like a bad dream.

After I came home for Christmas after the lockdown, I immediately felt my mood liven up for the first time in weeks. I felt comfortable and safe rather than completely on edge as though teen drama was lurking around every corner. Not to mention, I got to go to bed and hear silence – no drunken singing outside my window or banging from the flat above – just blissful silence.

After the first good nights’ sleep, I’ve had since I left for university in September, I got to thinking about returning after Christmas, and I felt a sense of dread. I dreaded the loneliness I’d feel spending hours alone in my room ‘studying’ from my computer screen. I felt exhausted just thinking about all the fabricated fun the weekends would bring, where I’d be compelled to drink cheap vodka and dance to songs I don’t know with people who don’t know me.

I felt like a fraud.

I would look around me and see smiling faces, excited for the next drinking game, clinging to their new best friends, planning for their second-year house; I felt utterly alone. I didn’t feel like I had a place anywhere. I had friends who were beautiful and kind and made efforts to include me in things, but despite my greatest efforts, I couldn’t help feeling like I didn’t belong.

Reading the governments guidance on students returning to accommodation after Christmas pushed me over the edge. The earliest return date in February and advice to not return until face-to-face teaching resumes (for me, an English student, teaching is indefinitely online-based). It felt like a joke, and I was done laughing. I wasn’t going to waste over £2000 on a room I couldn’t use for half the semester—especially given my reluctance to return anyway.

At the end of the day, while freedom and independence are great, and I’ll definitely miss Uber Eats, my mind is healthier and happier from the comfort of my own home. I refuse to feel any shame for making the decision that is best for my mental health.

Plus I get to see my mum every day, and that’s something to be happy about.

Trinity Barnatt – A first year English student at University of Leicester, originally from Bourne, Lincolnshire. Hoping to pursue a career in Journalism in the future, you can follow her on Instagram here : @trinity_b._

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