DD so upset at uni it's breaking my heart

(156 Posts)
amumthatcares Thu 03-Oct-13 08:33:40

Just to re-cap: For those of you that read my previous posts, DD was torn between a uni for the city and it's vibrant nightlife and the top uni for her course in a quieter city. She firmed the top uni. On getting her results she had a complete melt down and said she'd made a terrible mistake with both the course and the uni. She wanted to be in the vibrant city and do a course that had a wider career path choice. We discussed everything, pointing out all of the possible pitfalls if she changed (ie, strong possibility of not getting campus accommodation, etc.,) She was still sure she wanted to change, saying that she would make friends with house mates and on her course etc., and so we did everything we could to help her swap through clearing.

She got allocated an off campus house (5 sharing). It started off badly when we took her down and nobody else moved in that day and so she spent the first night alone. The next day two lads moved in who she has got on well with. That was 3 weeks ago. This week 2 international students have moved in that obviously have completely different cultures and do not share similar personalities to my DD. She has been unable to meet anyone at the Uni as she has to travel by train for a one hour lecture of 100+ students and then 5 hours later (too long to spend hanging around on campus with nothing to do) go back for another lecture. Everyone just leaves the lectures and goes their own way and so she goes back to her house. She sees all her school friends on FB that are in uni halls, posting pics of Freshers flat parties and clubbing.

She is quite a strong, outgoing girl and very sociable and is in absolute bits that she is finding it so hard to make friends and have that uni Freshers experience. We have looked at the societies that the uni has to offer and there is literally nothing that would remotely interest her. Apart from feeling very lonely and isolated, her big concern now is that students start sorting out next years house shares shortly after Christmas and she is panicking about what she will do. I know she made the decision to swap and go there, I know she has to live with it, I know there is little we can do to help change the situation but it hurts like fucking hell to see your DC so distraught sad

JuliaScurr Thu 03-Oct-13 08:45:50

all the pressure building up to this has been going on for years, since she chose her GCSE options, gt the grades, then the AS, the A levels, the uni applications, etc etc. Now she got the glittering prize and it's not that glittery. The contrast wit others makes it worse.
It is quite common to drop out and start again next year. Lots of people do it. Could that be n option?

niffernaffer Thu 03-Oct-13 08:45:59

I had an experience like this when I first went off to Uni at 18 and called my mum in tears every day for two weeks I feel for you and her.
All is not lost, although it feels miserable at the moment and you probably just want to rescue her. Has she been to see student services as that should be her first point of call in letting them know she is struggling. They might be able to offer her a transer to another house/ campus accommodation if any spaces have come up. A long shot but not impossible a I got moved to a different place much closer to me college. Also they should be able to put her in touch with others who are in the same boat and perhaps suggest some other avenues/ societies she hasn't considered. I hesitate to say jack it all in, but you know your child best and she knows herself too. If it is all too wrong then be reassured that she can indeed leave and it won't be the end of the world. She might have an unexpected gap year but it can have its benefits (I saved up and travelled to Australia which would never have happened if the 'opportunity' hadn't arisen). And if it does happened she will have the time and maturity to make a decision on where she wants to be and will have the grades behind her so should get firm offers from instiutions she is interested in. Don't give up - this is a horrible blip but it will all be ok in the end. stand by her, whatever she decides. This is probably the first big adult thing she will have had to deal with and it will bring her resilience and strength long term, whatever she decides. My best wishes to you.

Netguru Thu 03-Oct-13 08:50:30

Five hours is not too long to hang around campus. That's how you make friends.

She needs to decide whether she is going to make a go of it. If she is, she needs to join three societies regardless of whether she would normally want to do them. Meeting people will help loads.

amumthatcares Thu 03-Oct-13 09:02:59

Thank you for you understanding replies. Julia & niffer She e-mailed the housing office last night, explaining the situation and seeing if there was any alternative, so she is waiting for a response on that. Do either of you know what the implications regarding student finance would be if she pulled out this year? Would she lose a whole years finance and so be one year short of finance to complete her degree?

Net I know it seems the logical thing, but what would be the point of joining a society if she were not with like minded people? If there was a society that she was interested in, the likelyhood is, there would be people with similar interests and personalities, but there is not.

ipswichwitch Thu 03-Oct-13 09:04:48

She could see student services and ask for a house move. In my final year I was due to share with friends but the landlord inexplicably let our house to someone else (even though we paid deposits), so the day before
I was due back I found out we had nowhere to live. 2 of my friends found spare rooms elsewhere and the other decided to live at home. I was offered a room in a uni flat. When I moved in I found I was living with 4 Malaysian men who refused to speak to me, were rude, refusedro pass on phone measages and generally made my life miserable. I ended up at student services, explained my situation and they did offer me another flat share and I ended up living with people who became friends for life.

When I first started, I would turn up at lectures, sit myself next to someone, start a conversation and usually end up in the bar with them after lectures. I woul also turn up early to lectures and chat to the others that were waiting to go in and made some good friends that way too.

It can be daunting and when the reality is different to what you expect it to be that can be off putting. There will be others feeling the same as her (one good friend I made was exactly the same, had spoken to hardly anyone in the first 3 weeks until I started chatting hole waiting to get in the lecture hall), and I would say to try and single out those people and strike up conversation. Sometimes people just wait for others to make the first move. Good luck to her, and I hope things improve.

Slipshodsibyl Thu 03-Oct-13 09:08:36

I Agree with the suggestion of asking if there is an opportunity to move. A friend has just organised that for her son who was housed with older students which made him feel left out. The university obliged but by then he decided he liked his housemates after all and stayed put!

I understand what she is feeling about the international students'different culture, but it is almost certainly tougher for them so my sympathy is less and I wonder if she could look outside herself and get to know them a bit better? That is a very good way to take your mind off your own woes as well as helping her to make friends of all nationalities.

I think I remember the original posts - did she want to go to a 'party town' along with people she had met? Since she has been pretty determined about her wishes, against advice, I feel she ought to be able to stick it longer than this and I would be unlikely to agree to a move before term is out.

If she isn't happier by Xmas then, provided she had tried her best, if she were mine, I would support her in reapplying or transferring next year. I am a bit soft about making them stick it out, but if the backstory is the one I am thinking if, I think she should be required to give the course her best shot for a while longer yet.

RatherBeOnThePiste Thu 03-Oct-13 09:14:13

I'd def say give it a bit longer. Has been such a whirl for her, bless her, you too. If still not right, look into deferring. Friend's DD at Manchester did that last year, although waited until just around Easter. She's just restarted the same course and is SO much happier. Her mum said the university were incredibly helpful and supportive.

Wish her well. X

amumthatcares Thu 03-Oct-13 09:17:24

Slip yes, that is my DD. She has actaully been home for 2 days with flu and so last night, whilst at the dinner table discussing the situation, DH let rip. He told her it was her fault, she had brought it all on herself by chopping and changing her mind and she only had herself to blame. Whilst this is true, it was not a very constructive way of dealing with the situation. She just sobbed more, will never speak to him about it again and will go back today feeling like a complete failure sad

I did also raise the point that it must be SO much harder for students to move to another country, city, house, uni and with no friends or family support. She does understand that and I think it hit home a bit.

daytoday Thu 03-Oct-13 09:18:14

You really have to learn to go out on a limb. Do you really think she won't find one single like minded person? You do need to hang around, start conversations and go through the pain barrier.

Coveredinweetabix Thu 03-Oct-13 09:19:27

I hated my first four weeks at Uni, thought as was never going to make friends and then suddenly it all clicked and came together. I was in a different situation though as I was in a hall on campus and that does make it easier.
I don't want to be too harsh when your daughter is clearly going through a tough time but I do think she needs to make more effort and be less narrow minded. What are her usual interests and hobbies? Surely there's a sports team or choir or something she can join. Or try something new. She doesn't have to do it for the next three years, just until she makes some friends. I'm useless at hockey but went along to training every week, then went to support the team at Saturday home matches which led to post-match drinking and eventual friendships. In the second year, I never bothered going to training, just to post-match drinking and several mid week cups of tea with people who were on the team in their room. I also think your DD needs to be less anti the international students. Yes, there may be cultural differences but surely one of the points about leaving home and going to Uni is to meet different people. As they've only been in the house for a week, it's a bit early to have decided that they're totally different personalities and so can't be friends. And surely rather than doing these long train journeys twice a day she could hang around in the cafe on campus (I'm sure there is one) for a coffee or lunch and then go to the library and do some work.
As for her friends in FB, I bet many of them are lonely, are concerned that they haven't made any proper friends etc but you're not going to admit that on FB. Instead, you're going to post about all of the fun stuff that you're doing and which you know you should be enjoying even if you're not actually enjoying it.
How far is she from home? Can she come home for the weekend? Spending a weekend by yourself can get very lonely.
I hope she settles soon.

HowardTJMoon Thu 03-Oct-13 09:29:51

There is always a significant drop-out in the first term of university, one of the effects of which is that spaces open up in Halls. It's definitely worth a try.

BrianTheMole Thu 03-Oct-13 09:31:05

Those first months are hard. You have to really push yourself out there, even if its something that doesn't feel natural to you. Everyone is in the same boat though. I found it really hard. In the end I signed up for voluntary work and also joined clubs outside the university. It did work quite well. When it comes to house shares next year the uni should have a board with people advertising for a flat mate. I made loads more new friends in the second year through sharing with people who were new to the uni and had just started their masters. I don't think your dd should give up yet, there will be people there she will get on with. She needs to put herself out there and find them. The nice thing about uni is that people are more likely to want to make friends quickly, as they are feeling the same.

Merrylegs Thu 03-Oct-13 09:33:51

Are there really no clubs she can join? DS has just started at uni. He finds socialising quite difficult but has almost made it a 'project' in freshers week to make friends. And to join the most random and out of his experience club, just because he can. (He chose American football!)

I definitely agree with getting to lectures early and chatting to people. That's how I made friends on my course.

Also, don't take the societies at their name they often have many 'jobs' within them. Dh joined the radio station but mostly did computing stuff, for example.

Try not to worry about housing for next year. There's usually loads of people who don't have the right number for a house and start advertising at the start of the January term. This happened to me - 8 of us in halls, 1 exchange student, 2 moved in with friends and the other 5 got a house together. I found some random people that were advertising for a housemate (there were 3 of them) and someone else replied too. We all went for a drink and living with all of them was a brilliant year.

When I dropped out of my first 2 uni places and took a gap year I repaid the student loan. I could then start afresh the next year. I don't know if it still works the same way or whether this is an option for you. And FWIW my dad didn't speak to me for 6 weeks angry

magicturnip Thu 03-Oct-13 09:34:32

She could set up her own society. Or are there meetup groups in her area? These are a great way to meet people in my city.

TheSmallPumpkin Thu 03-Oct-13 09:37:03

My first couple of weeks were exactly like this (although for different start out reasons) but I went to the accommodation people who found me a place in halls and it made a huge difference. Tell her to get herself in there today. The first few weeks can be tough but I'm sure she'll be fine.

rootypig Thu 03-Oct-13 09:38:46

This is going to sound harsh, OP, but this is what people go to uni for. It is hard. She needs to learn to get on with non 'like minded people'. They might become some of her dearest friends. To some degree (no pun intended!), you have to let her get on with it. That means neither fussing nor blaming her. You giving her the other students' perspective is helpful, just carry on gently supporting her and see what she decides. Early days.

Awks Thu 03-Oct-13 09:40:28

Moving is the best option and it is definitely possible but it might not be the answer to all her problems. Where is she - sre there any of us with older kids studying in the same city who could introduce her to things/people? My dd is in 3rd year at uni/manchester

gennibugs Thu 03-Oct-13 09:41:23

You have my sympathies – it is hard.

My mum worried like crazy about me when I went to uni, I know she had sleepless nights worrying about how unhappy I was– I hated it so much to start off with and was miserable. I found every excuse to come home (even though I lived the other end of the country) and would sob and cry my eyes out when it was time to go home.
I too made a last minute decision to switch courses and unis and ended up living with 3 international students who though lovely were just so different to me. I also hated my course. Student services helped me to move to halls which helped so would definitely recommend that. I actually ended up moving unis and coming back to London in the end to start a new course but funnily enough in my last month at my last uni I met some lovely people through a random society that I joined (I had no interest in it but was desperate) and actually this nearly swayed me to stay. I am still friends with those people from the society 12 years later – we managed to keep a friendship going even though I left. So I would suggest trying societies that she has maybe even the tiniest bit of interest.

Also don’t be afraid to just start talking to people in lectures, the library and suggesting things like a coffee after class.

gennibugs Thu 03-Oct-13 09:43:28

Also - I got a job working in the student union bar/cafe which gave me interaction with students and meant I didnt feel quite so isolated - could this be something to consider?

wordfactory Thu 03-Oct-13 09:45:35

First, the societies often don't do much of what their name implies. I joined the film making society and we didn't actually manage to film more than a couple of scenes in three years!

But we did make freinds grin.

Second, don't be contrained to the societies. There are also lots of committees that need fresh students. Women's committee, entertainments committee, charity committee...then there is usually a university newspaper/magazine, a radio station etc.

OP, your DD should scour the notice boards too. There will be talks, meetings, debates. All good places to start chatting to the person next to you.

SavoyCabbage Thu 03-Oct-13 09:52:40

I think she needs to join things and go to them whether she thinks she will meet like minded people or not.

If she was in halls, she would be wit all sorts of people from all different places. Everyone is on a different course. People are from different places, people have different sexualities, different beliefs, different politics, different interests. Some are rich and some are poor. That's what it's all about.

Slipshodsibyl Thu 03-Oct-13 09:55:41

An issue that might be influencing your feelings is that this really is not the university you felt was best suited to your dd. It would influence me in your position.

I am a bit unsure about there being not a single society that interests her and would not accept that as a reason since I believe university is when they should be expanding their experiences and interests. She sounds as if she is feeling overly negative and I think you could try to help her overcome this.

I can understand her dad's frustration with her since she was absolutely determined to reject the best university for her subject for reasons that were not very good and ignored your advice. For this reason I think that even tough you are upset for her, she should live with the consequences of her intransigence for a bit longer.

She is far from the only 17 year old to ignore her parents advice though and to later regret it and if, in another 6 weeks, she is still unhappy and you feel it was the wrong choice, then I would be looking into either transferring next September (which means completing the year where she is) or leaving and reapplying. But I happen to agree that her original choice of university, which was also your preference, will give her a better start academically (and probably socially). and that would be a major factor in my thinking.

Somethingyesterday Thu 03-Oct-13 10:00:10

This week 2 international students have moved in that obviously have completely different cultures and do not share similar personalities to my DD.

what would be the point of joining a society if she were not with like minded people?

Do you see what you're doing?

OP I am going to be even more harsh. You need to back off. Your Dd has gone to university to make her own life. But she seems to have arrived there somehow understanding that the entire thing is all about her. Everyone must be from exactly her background and culture; everyone must be like-minded.

I'm sorry but this is completely the wrong attitude and was bound to lead to not just disappointment but despair.

Why is she hanging around the campus with nothing to do? Are there no libraries? Cafes? Etc? Every university town is stuffed with students getting on the bus or train to get to lectures. Everyone has learn to live amongst and socialise with other people.

I do wish your Dd had been encouraged to approach this stage of her life in a spirit of adventure and independence.

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