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DS not really settling

(49 Posts)
pixiepotter Sun 29-Sep-13 23:49:21

He has hated freshers week.He is quite a homebody really.He went out went out clubbing with his (very nice) flatmates the first night, but hated it so much he left at 12.30.The others have gone out clubbing every night since but he hasn't gone.He can't really join in their conversations because they talk about nothing but drinking and clubbing.He has been out to see a comedian at the union by himself, but got talking to others there and one night had a film and pizza night with the flat downstairs.
But I think it is the long days with nothing to do that are getting him down.We went to visit him this afternoon and he looked very gaunt and says he keeps forgetting to eat also he is paying £150 for his room but the shower doesn't work!! and the maintenance guy doesn't know why!
Hopefully it will be better next week when studies start.He has 2 full days til 5 and 3 half days in Uni , plus the clubs he has signed up for start
I feel so sad for him being unhappy.I hope it gets better soon.

JeanPaget Sun 29-Sep-13 23:54:01

I'm not really sure what advice to give, I know how tough if it when your kids are having a hard time and there's not much you can do.

I agree about it getting better when studies start, hopefully he'll find likeminded people on his course. Getting on with his flatmates is nice, but it's certainly not the be all and end all of making friends at uni. Are there any clubs/societies he's joined?

pippop1 Sun 29-Sep-13 23:54:42

Try not to worry too much. Encourage him to join some clubs and societies that don't involve too much drinking but that are still fun. Maybe even look at the website so that you can casually come up with ideas....

A friend told me that her DD joined the choir in some kind of student church. Not because she was a Christian (she wasn't) but she enjoyed singing and the other members didn't have their major ambition as getting drunk and clubbing. It's bound to be difficult at first.

Chopchopbusybusy Sun 29-Sep-13 23:58:48

My DD has also just started at university. She's been out clubbing every night with her flat mates as she (understandably) doesn't want to miss anything at this stage. I spoke to her on the phone today. She has a heavy cold and is exhausted. She's not really a nightclubber and I think she'll be very relieved when things settle down.
Tonight is freshers ball and lectures start tomorrow at 9. Then tomorrow night it here is an event for everyone doing her course. shock
I think there is a huge pressure to go mad for the first few weeks. It won't last.

JeanPaget Mon 30-Sep-13 00:01:58

I really agree with what Chopchop has said about there being a huge amount of pressure to go out a lot during fresher's week, I'd reassure your son that the drinking and clubbing will calm down once term gets underway. It might be that some of his flatmates are exaggerating the extent to which they enjoy going out so that they fit in.

pixiepotter Mon 30-Sep-13 00:07:16

His flatmates are very very nice but he is just on a different wavelength really! He has signed up for loads of clubs, and going to a taster sessions next week and then I think most start the week after.
I am sure things will get better, but it is hard as a parent.When they are little you can usually make it all better but the older they get the less you can do !!

JGBMum Mon 30-Sep-13 07:07:49

If he gets on well with people in the flat downstairs, then encourage him to keep wandering down there for a coffee.
Ds1 is in his third year now, but in his first year, they had 2 girls from different nearby flats, who practically lived with them as they didn't have much in common with their own flat

DS also said that kitchen parties, where you invite several flats to your kitchen are a good way of meeting new people who are not just looking for drinking etc. because it's in the building most people will come, find others like them, and then split into smaller groups.

On the positive side, it does sound as though he has a pretty full on course, so will make new friends there once it gets underway too.

JGBMum Mon 30-Sep-13 07:09:32

But sympathies, it is so hard when they are unhappy and away from home.

MrsBranestawm Mon 30-Sep-13 07:18:53

DC1 had a similar sort of start to your DS, OP. It did get better for her once lectures started, and also when the flats started to intermingle more. Stay in touch with him. Send him a parcel or two. Go and visit him. But don't suggest he come home for the weekend just yet.

I understand when you say you feel so sad for him feeling so unhappy. I bet things will feel better for him in a couple of weeks.

sashh Mon 30-Sep-13 08:24:42

It will get better once there is some work to do. Essays and assignments fill time.

A lot of students go through this, and a lot have another blip just after the Christmas holidays.

Slipshodsibyl Mon 30-Sep-13 08:30:38

Freshers' week with insufficient structure is a bit too long for many new students at many universities and many students feel as your son does. It almost always gets better once they start work. I hope he feels better soon.

pixiepotter Mon 30-Sep-13 09:07:04

Thankyou so much for your kind and reassuring replies which have made me feel happier and that he is not the only one!
WE have just had sad news that one of his former classmates who started a week earlier in Scotland, has been in hospital for 5 days after overdoing freshers week.He has caused severe damage to his spleen and intestines and still cannot even tolerate a sip of water.It kind of puts my parental worries into perspective!!

eatyourveg Mon 30-Sep-13 13:07:25

ds gave most of the freshers events a miss - its really not his sort of thing he also went to the SU on his own to see a comedian but said everyone was chatting in groups so he came back at 10.30. Thankfully he is sharing with 4 girls who seem quite happy to mother him - his best day was when they had the introductory talk from his dept and he met others doing his course. This week the lectures start so I'm hoping he will meet like minded people. Hopefully the same will be the case for your son.

If he is in halls - is there the opportunity to swap flats?

SlowlorisIncognito Mon 30-Sep-13 20:51:00


What your son is feeling is totally normal. I think majorly unstructured fresher's weeks aren't actually that good an idea. At my university, towards the end of the week, there were various bonding activities for the course, such as fun quizes, a lab tour, and a group visit to a nearby area of natural beauty. This gave people things to do during the day, which I think is really important, as the days can seem really long away from home.

From next week, when everyone starts having lectures, things will get better. I think most people make their best friends on their course or in societies, as they meet people with similar interests. Encourage him to ask people on his course he's been chatting to if they want to go for coffee or lunch together sometime.

I wouldn't request a flat change at this stage if his flatemates are otherwise nice. There are much, much worse things out there than flatemates who are nice, but you don't have much in common with.

I bet by the end of October he'll be feeling a lot more settled and happy.

steeking Mon 30-Sep-13 20:54:44

I was horribly homesick my first term and went home every weekend. It does get better with time. Could he look at joining one of the societies? He could try something new.

MariscallRoad Mon 30-Sep-13 20:58:29

pixiepotter university is a long experience, takes time to settle, I had experience myself and my son too. Your DS can pursue the clubs he likes only and I am sure there is variety to suit his interests and he will meet like minded . I understand your worries abut the experience of the classmate you mention. Some friend told me that one can dilute the wine with fruit juice and ice so the liquid volume is increased but the alcohol content is the same or less - depending how much liquid you add - and you can enjoy sipping it it longer.

ScrewtapesOppositeNumber Mon 30-Sep-13 21:04:06

No one ever admits it, but Freshers' Week is actually a bit crap for most people. It's hyped up to be the 'best week ever' but it really isn't. You cling desperately to the first people you meet and try hard to do what they want to do. You spend too much money getting into shit clubs. You usually get a cold or virus due to people flocking to one place from all over the country.

It will get better when he starts his course and meets people he's got something in common with, and when he's got stuff to do. The first year can be a bit tricky if you're the homesick type or if the uni is very different to what you're used to but 99% of people love it by the second year.

However, he should really email the uni accommodation people re the shower - that's not on. Sometimes you just need to hassle a bit to get things sorted.

UptheChimney Tue 01-Oct-13 10:01:48

pixiepotter Freshers week is not university, and they'll all settle down soon when evil tutors like me give them a shedload of work

When I was Senior Tutor/Welfare tutor in one department in a University that was quite isolated, I'd see the homesick ones. I'd try to persuade them to stick it out for about 6 weeks, and then go home for a weekend. My sneaky plan was that they'd realise that they had actually got used to the extra independence and freedom of university, and homesickness would drift away.

TBH I think there's a lot to be said for the old days in my youth when phoning home etc was quite expensive, and there was no email or skype. Would it help if you backed off a bit, and left him to it?

Your son is doing all the right things, though -- I urge students to join clubs etc as this is 3 years of near adult freedom & independence, without all the responsibilities of adult life they will all too soon acquire. I hope he has fun soon!

Jacally Tue 01-Oct-13 13:33:56

OMG! I'm so glad I found this link, I'm in tears. My DD is in a flat (halls) with 4 guys and feels real intimidated, lonely and isolated. I just hope all the comments about being better when the course starts is true. I'm hanging in there for her!

2rebecca Tue 01-Oct-13 14:17:22

It's a bit thoughtless of the uni to not either put single sex teenagers in flats or mix them up equally. When I was at college our accomodation blocks had 3 floors of 6 each and they tried to have a sex mix in the block but have the floors single sex to make making friends easier. 1 girl and 4 blokes sounds mean.

Jacally Tue 01-Oct-13 14:34:09

She's put in a request to move flat. But has to wait until someone else wants to move. Could be a while. I think it's really bad planning.

whitecloud Tue 01-Oct-13 14:53:10

Thank you for your good advice, UptheChimney. My dd is coping reasonably well, but missing her home friends who have all dispersed to uni. I think that some of the problems come from suddenly realising that adult life is a lot more isolating then being with the school and home friends you have known for years and feel safe with. It's the only time in your life when you have such a stable group of mates. All the uni people are new, you don't know them, you don't know who you can trust, just because you don't really know them. Think this might be one factor in feeling unsettled, lost and homesick.

I also think it makes you feel insecure because you don't know the town, campus, people, work, course, you name it .... If I cast my mind back to moving house to another area it was such darned hard work to find things because I literally didn't know anything. And if you have never lived away from home before on top of all that, it is tough. I tell my dd to give herself a chance - all the dcs are doing brilliantly coping from day to day.

Bless Mumsnet for providing a forum where us parents can be honest about how we feel and how our children are feeling. I am totally fed up with this myth that university is fantastic and wonderful from the word go. It is just putting more pressure on all of us. If you think about it, what adult who went to a new workplace or area would find it marvellous instantly? If you are very lucky, well bully for you, but for the majority it isn't that simple and it takes time.

Thanks for listening, folks. Hope all the dcs are settling down a bit more.

UptheChimney Tue 01-Oct-13 15:56:01

I think that some of the problems come from suddenly realising that adult life is a lot more isolating then being with the school and home friends you have known for years and feel safe with

That's interesting -- I remember feeling the exact opposite: I had very little in common with anyone at school, and found my friends in my extra-curricular activities. It was going to university that made me feel far less isolated. I realised I wasn't a weirdo prat, but quite normal, and that there were other people like me, who shared my values and ambitions. That was such a relief.

And I know my DS really loved the change & the move and finding out about a whole new place. But he comes from a long line of entrepreneurs and adventurers so maybe it's in his blood, and family culture.

pixiepotter Tue 01-Oct-13 15:59:59

when he rang yesterday he sounded more cheerful, and he has another 9 to 5 day today.
The other flatmates are being a bit more honest about the way they are feeling too which has made him feel better.One girl went home last weekend and has her grandparents coming to stay in the flat next weekend (1) another is worried about having spent £500 in the first week and I think they are all getting fed up with going out.So things will hopefully improve on all fronts!

ScrewtapesOppositeNumber Tue 01-Oct-13 16:07:33

Yep, for the first couple of weeks everyone pretends they're really cool and grown-up and that they don't worry about anything. Then people admit they're not!

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