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A warning for freshers: not everyone grows up

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Three months after starting university, Hannah Bennett has moved out of her halls in desperation – and gives a stark warning to those expecting nothing but good things from their first university flat...

Three months have gone at uni, and not one single piece advice given to me before I started has come in handy - or proven to be true.

One person even told me that when at uni “everything changes”, and there are no playground problems to deal with. Wrong.

So, whilst everyone else was boasting about going out with “the uni family” and having cute Christmas dinners together, I was trying to organise a date for me to move my stuff out of my flat.

How my first three months of uni has panned out doesn’t surprise anyone more than it surprises me. But the reason I deserved this, apparently, was because I was the quiet one - the “nice one.”

Standing behind the door every time I left a room to try to listen for comments or jokes made about me was an everyday occurrence. And eventually the paranoia got exhausting.

People who are great to talk to one to one but are completely different when their mates come round are impossible to live with, and I never realised that at the age of 19 there would still be people who needed to make others feel crap in order to make themselves feel good.

I was made to feel like what I wore I was ridiculous, that the things I said weren’t worth listening to, and that it was alien to think I could get attention from a boy. The inability to listen to music if it didn’t have some racist, sexist theme to it, the overuse of the word “bae”, and the 24/7 bitching made my experience of uni completely different to my friends’ happy “flat family” experience.

All of this was a perfect enough reason to pack uni in and apply again next year. Moving flats wouldn’t have helped a lot - a tiny campus and accommodation buildings a stone throw away from each other meant I would more than likely bump into my former flatmates.

After three months of trying to turn a blind eye to the situation it made me feel like the smallest, ugliest person. I would wake up in the morning and avoid mirrors; I stopped speaking in class because I thought people would just take the mick out of me; I didn’t want to go out because I felt like I didn’t look good enough. I felt so alone in this huge city that was three hours from home.

Eventually, when I happened to have my door open and hear one of my flatmates drunkenly having a bitch about me to everyone in the room, I packed my suitcase, left the next morning, and swore I was not going back to that flat.

I went home, cried to my mum and sister, and called the university to inform them I was planning to withdraw from my course. Which, to my surprise, got a completely different reaction to what I was expecting. My head of department got in touch that same day and told me not to withdraw until I’d had a proper think, and how I was not to worry about any deadlines I’d missed.

And after a week of being at home, my upset and miserable mood turned into anger. Anger that I’d been used so other people could feel better about themselves, anger that those people had nearly ruined everything that I’d spent the last two years working so hard for.

Unfortunately, 12 weeks at university has left its mark. I’m still distant with my old friends because I can’t stand listening to them all gab about their new uni ones, I push guys away in clubs because I think they’re only giving me attention for a joke, and I’m going back to uni at the end of January with less self-esteem than I had when I went in last year.

I deserve to be at that uni just as much as they do; I’ve got a new place to move into for the new term, and all the work I missed I can make up when I get back.

My advice to anyone in the same situation is to not give up, to rise above it, and to move out.




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