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Moving away from home to start university can be a daunting prospect for anyone. How refreshing to find that it has not been the monumental challenge I expected it to be. 

It has now been over two months since I started university and I am pleased to say I am absolutely loving it! My first term is nearly complete and already I have made some lovely friends and am making good progress with my course.

Most helpful of all is that I am living in a

‘designated quiet block’

Living on campus

I am very lucky to be living on campus in the university accommodation and this has worked out brilliantly. My lectures and seminars are a ten-minute walk away, so I can come home in between classes to rest and enjoy some quiet. I am also only a five-minute walk from the university shop, which is very helpful if I need to buy anything and don’t have enough social energy to walk into the city.

Most helpful of all is that I am living in a ‘designated quiet block’. This means that everyone who lives in my building has requested a quiet accommodation which doesn’t involve alcohol or partying. This has been amazing as it means I can work and sleep undisturbed, and my flat mates are all very similar to me in their appreciation of a calm living space.

It could be a good idea to:

1. ask about quiet accomodation when you visit a university on an Open Day if you feel this might suit you.

2. understand more about the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA), which is a grant to help with any extra costs.

3. Read around. I found Disability at University: guidance and a glossary of terms really useful.

The idea of living in a flat with five other strangers was initially extremely anxiety-provoking

Living with five strangers

The idea of living in a flat with five other strangers was initially extremely anxiety-provoking. Although the university had supported me by giving me a room with an en-suite. I would still have to share a kitchen and living space with people I had never met before.  Surprisingly, my flat is the most enjoyable part of being at university so far: my flatmates are some of the kindest and most considerate people I have ever known and it’s reassuring that we all experience very similar stresses. For example, we all have quite low social batteries and so spend a lot of time in our rooms rather than out, and everyone is very tidy and respectful of each other’s space and belongings.

It has also been wonderful getting to know people from different cultural backgrounds and countries and bonding over interests and hobbies. All these things have been an enormous help in transitioning from my family home to university halls.

The biggest challenge so far for me has been managing energy levels

Establishing new routines

Some things that helped me adjust to the change in lifestyle included decorating my room with familiar pictures and books early on in the moving in process and establishing my new routines to include my academic work as well as free time, time for meals and walks to stay healthy. Also, keeping in touch with the accessibility team throughout, who offer a social group every week for students with similar struggles was comforting as it established a go-to support network for whenever things got overwhelming.

Planning breaks and rest

The biggest challenge so far for me has been managing energy levels throughout the week. Learning which days I need to plan a break and a rest is important for me because I am managing many different scenarios throughout the week. Constantly meeting new people can be exciting but also exhausting, walking into a city centre can present intense sensory overwhelm, and engaging in society activities and demanding academic work can feel like a lot to balance.

Having a quiet bedroom to go back to as well as regular visits back to North Devon means I have breaks to manage it all without feeling like I’m missing out on anything.

the best thing is being able to study my interests in intense detail.

Overall, the best thing is being able to study my interests in intense detail. It is a privilege learning from some of the best academics in my subject, diving deep into my interests, and being surrounded by fellow students who share a deep appreciation for our course.

I cannot wait for next term and would encourage anyone who is thinking of going on to university to start exploring your options and available support – you might just be surprised!

Some key tips and takeaways that might be helpful:

  • take a break, take a step back and scan your body. 
  • notice your social battery – do you need some time out?
  • think about types of social interactions e.g. size of groups, duration etc.
  • anticipate the upcoming day and build in some downtime to recharge.
  • think and ask about accomodation e.g would a quiet block suit? This student’s blog post might reassure you: https://www.bristol.ac.uk/blackwell/news/2020/autism-at-university–being-an-autistic-student.html 
  • take time to do something you enjoy, perhaps your special interest.
  • from my last blog, don’t forget to recognise your strengths!
  • most importantly, give yourself a little time, grace and self-compassion.

I hope this was helpful.


This article was written by a past coaching client of WayMakers whom we are proud to have as a guest contributor to our site.