Blog: The conversation that changed my university experience

Hi, I’m Holly, a third-year Psychology in Education student and I’m currently loving my life at UoB. However, it wasn’t always that way, particularly at the start, but that’s ok! Through this rollercoaster of an experience, I’ve come to realise that university isn’t just about hitting the books – it’s a time of personal growth. By overcoming challenges head on, and opening up about my thoughts and feelings, I’ve grown into a better version of myself.  

Holly Parkes

Whether you’re in your first year or final year, I want to share my university journey with you. Remember, it’s never too late to talk about your true feelings and reach out for help when you need it most.  

Starting university 

I’m a home student who’s lived in a small town in Shropshire (England) most of my life. After a long divorce, my parents both suffered from poor mental health, so I was already feeling anxious at the thought of leaving them behind while starting this new chapter in my life.  

Once I arrived, reality hit hard. I felt really homesick, isolated and alone, and despite my best efforts to connect with my flatmates, something just wasn’t clicking. They were lovely people, and we could be friendly when together, but I felt like I couldn’t bring myself to talk to them about how what I was going through. Feeling overwhelmed and lonely became the norm.  

Scrolling through social media didn’t help either. It seemed like all my old friends were having the most amazing time, making amazing new besties and lots of new memories. I felt like I was stuck in a lonely bubble in my room. Everyone around me seemed so fulfilled and happy in their new university life, and I just wished for things to go back to how they were before.  

The power of a chat! 

At first, I didn’t want to burden my friends or family with my feelings, so I just stuck it out and kept everything bottled up inside. Looking back, I wish I hadn’t done that.  

The first step into moving away from this slump was talking to my closest college friends about how I was feeling. The more people I spoke to, the less isolated I felt. Turns out, many others were feeling lonely and homesick too, and I wasn’t the only one feeling this way.  

Speaking to my friends, and how it helped me, gave me the confidence to be open and honest with my Personal Academic Tutor (PAT). It was such a relief getting my feelings out in the open and dropping the facade of “Everything’s fine” which I typically do. My PAT signposted me to useful resources and that she was always available for a chat whenever I needed it. Knowing that meant so much to me!  

Societies and socialising 

Talking was the first step towards a brighter path, it opened doors to new friendships and exciting connections. One of the ways I did this was through joining both the Craft and Film Societies to meet people with similar hobbies and interests to me. Craft was a great weekly opportunity to talk with others and relax away from the hustle and bustle of university life. It was where I could de-stress, chat, and get creative. There are so many societies on campus which you can join, just find a hobby or activity that helps make you feel more chilled and comfortable! 

Holly 3

From a young age, I was always very conscious of what others thought of me so the thought of attending social events by myself was really daunting! However, after finding out that’s how so many of my college friends found their crowds at uni, I decided to attend the Hall Reps events held at my student accommodation. This allowed me to meet people living in the same halls as me through activities like quiz nights, painting, and pet therapy.  Nothing brings more happiness to uni students than a freebie and so it was nice to bond over free hot chocolates, gingerbread, pancakes and fish ‘n’ chips too!  

Holly 4

I’m really glad that I built up my confidence to attend these events. Stepping out of my comfort zone, rather than feeling cooped up and lonely in my room, meant that I was now filling up my free time making fun memories, opening up to people, and feeling more at home.  

It’s good to talk 

Coming to university taught me a valuable lesson: the importance of talking to others about how I was really feeling. Getting things off your chest can be liberating and knowing someone else may be going through the same thing can be helpful. Also, don’t always let social media fool you into thinking everyone else is living their best uni life. My one piece of advice would be please don’t hide behind the words ‘I’m ok’ like I did. Talk about what’s going on inside - it really is good to talk.  

Holly 5

University life is exciting, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. Talking about how you feel or asking for help may seem daunting at times but it’s a powerful first step. Whatever you’re going through, big or small, we’re here to help you find the best way to cope. Check out our Time to Talk? page for our full range of Mental Health and Wellbeing support.  


Professional Services