How I adjusted to life at Uni as a first-year student

By 4th-year social work student Nadia Rizza-Bordieri

For some students adjusting to Uni life is a breeze and it just flows easy for them. For many others, it’s not so easy. I’m not going to lie, my first few weeks of Uni consisted of me coming home from class and bawling my eyes out because I just could not cope with the transition from school to tertiary study. The work was harder, the subjects were unfamiliar, finding my way around campus was a bit of a challenge (La Trobe Bundoora is huge!) and getting my head around referencing and following it correctly was a bit of a challenge.

The sudden independence was a difficult adjustment and I contemplated withdrawing from my social work course every day because of the impact it was having on my mental wellbeing. I knew I didn’t want to give up though. I did some research about adjustment techniques, sat myself down and figured that adjusting would require some getting used to and that good things take time. So, I came up with some tips that helped me adapt to Uni life. I can proudly say I am in my final year of my course and so I’m hoping these tips might help you too.

First of all, download the lost-on campus app

This app is a life saver if you don’t know where your classes are. Thank me later.


Whenever I would come home crying and feel overwhelmed, I would pull myself together and begin to mediate. There are different ways to meditate, for me I would find somewhere comfortable and quiet to sit and start focusing on my breathing. This helped me clear my head and bring me back to the present moment.

Validating your feelings

After clearing my head I would then check in with myself and validate how I was feeling rather than being harsh on myself and telling myself to just get over it like I used to. I reminded myself that I am far from alone and that the vast majority of first year students feel exactly like I do. Telling myself this and speaking kindly to myself gave me comfort.

Getting out of your comfort zone

I knew that in order to make friends I had to get myself out there. It’s always a mistake to wait for others to speak to you first. If you take the risk and make the first move, the chances are the other person will be pleased to talk. I think it helps to remember that almost everyone is in the same boat when you start Uni and feeling a little bit alone! I remember walking into one of my first classes and seeing a student who was sitting alone so I chose to sit next to her and introduce myself. She was also a first-year student and so we had this instant connection. From this point on we remained in contact and to this day we are still really good friends. This leads me to my next point…

Use Uni as an opportunity to make friends and meet people

Try attending student events, join clubs and reach out to people in your classes. La Trobe has heaps of clubs and events you can join. The more you put yourself out there, the less lonely you will feel and the sooner you will make friends

Prioritise time management

University study requires us to take responsibility for our own learning and to be more self-directed. One way I took control and minimised stress is by using a planner. This was my central reference point where I scheduled my classes, assignments and commitments. Time management however isn’t just about doing your assessments on time and doing your readings. It’s about effectively managing all aspects of your life. So, I scheduled when I would meal prep, go to the gym and make sure I had time to relax and spend time with my friends. This helped me cope with my new life since I was making sure to have a healthy balance.

My last tip is to talk about how you’re feeling

Lots of people are feeling the same way you are. Sharing your feelings with someone can help you feel less isolated. La Trobe offers programs and supports to students, and these can be accessed through the Latrobe student health and wellbeing program. If feelings of anxiety, loneliness and homesickness continue despite your efforts trying to get over them, talking to one of La Trobe’s counsellors can help.