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Help! Daughter not enjoying uni(64 Posts)
Has anyone else experienced this? DD went to uni this sept to a city 5 hours from home. The uni did not help with settling in (no freshers reps or older years encouraging them to get involved) and she struggled to find her feet in the first couple of weeks. I wasn't too worried as have heard this is normal, but we're approaching Christmas now and she still calls me in floods of tears a few times a week. She says her course is going well (but lots of free time) and she does have friends but she only sees them a couple of times a week as they are all on different courses. She struggles with her flatmates as most evenings they do drugs with their friends in the flat which dd isn't a fan of, I've suggested telling the university about them but she doesn't want to get them kicked out. She just seems so homesick a lot of the times and she tries to get involved in uni life but I think she'd rather be closer to home. Is there any advice you would give her? i think she should stick it out but I get that its hard when everything seems so miserable and lonely. Just hate hearing her so upset
Can she ask to switch accommodation? Has she joined any societies?
GCAcademic she has been to see accomodation officers twice but no luck yet. Said there’s a possibility that there would be more empty rooms in jan once international students who are only spending the semester here leave. I told her to just keep calling accomodation and they will move her but she’s too embarrassed to do so. She’s joined her course society but not many events seem to happen there and she writes for the newspaper but again that’s quite an isolated society as it’s just about writing the articles in your own time. She’s not sporty which is a shame as sport seems to be a great way to meet new people so she is a little lost at the moment.
What university does she attend if you don’t mind saying? Are there no other societies she could get involved in outside of her course? Any outside interests? I work at a university and the level of societies always amazes me, there’s cocktail making, anime, rock music, Harry Potter, Politics.. if she branches out a little she might find she finds more friends who are more on her level.
Does the university offer any volunteering? That’s a great way to meet people.
This term is the toughest. It's new, she's lonely, it's dark and cold. If she can see the weeks a small bite sized chunks that will make time pass quicker until Christmas. Can she come home for a few days. If she's got time in her hands then I assume she's doing a humanities course. In which case can she come home as she probably only has a handful of lectures a week and could watch them online? Just for a week or so?
Sollyfromsurrey yes it seems her way of coping has been always having something to look forward to. She came home for a weekend in October, i’ve gone up for the day recently and she’s back for a weekend in 2 weeks. I worry her coming home makes her more homesick when she’s at uni but she seems to need that regular contact as her coping mechanism.
@RavenLG rather not say the university but it’s quite a big northern uni. She has joined some societies but none that she’s interested in seem to have a social side eg the newspaper is just about writing an article every week and doesn’t arrange any socials it seems.
Tbh if it were my Dd (will be next year) is phone accommodation myself and see what I could do - I’d be totally frank and honest re the reason. The alternative would be for your daughter to go she her course tutor and get them to intervene with accommodation (if they will). Given that we’re at the end of term 1 then I’d be saying to DD that it’s no good being this unhappy - steps need to be taken and discuss all options & get her to make a decision. Ultimately leaving/what she does has to be her decision but I’d definitely be encouraging action now rather than being unhappy.
I definitely agree with Lumpy's pp. (I can imagine the uni is Durham).
We went through this last year. DD phoning at 4.00am in tears because flatmates were waking her. She was boring as she did not take drugs, so had no right to sleep.
Looking back it was bullying, pure and simple.
This year is totally different. DD is settled and happy and has found "her people".
If she is on the right course, I think it is worth trying to get over the first year.
The important thing to do, as others have suggested, is to get a move. But to the right flat. Which means that you have to build a head of steam. (DD hung on far too long as she hoped she could win other's round, till something happened that forced a move. There were three lovely girls in her new flat but it was too late to really bond with them - a lot of what might have been.) Accomodation will know which are the problem flats. However if it is just a request to move, there is no guarantee that she is not just moved to an equally difficult place. There will however be flats where someone wants to move out because their flatmates are too "dull". Perfact!
She should first speak to the warden/senior resident and tell them she is unhappy and seek their advice. They will have seen it before. (If she is at the University which has just got rid of hall wardens as a way of "improving" welfare support do PM me and I can share more detail.) She should also speak to her academic/course tutor, or if she does not have one (DD didn't) go along to the office hours of one of her lecturers or whoever is in charge of first years in her subject, explain that she loves the course but is finding halls really difficult. One of DDs seminar tutors was worried about DD so made her stay back and then set everything in motion. Her department won't want to lose good students so they can make things happen.
I had also phoned the accomodation office anonymously to check procedures, so I could advise DD.
Another thing to worry about is next year. In some Universities students start looking very early. This worked in DDs favour as the rest of her flat excluded her, but she ran into a couple of girls she vaguely knew from a society, that had the same happen to them, so they started looking together, all aware of what they did not want in a flat share. In contrast some of those flat shares based on six weeks acquaintenships have gone very badly wrong. She says one of the other mums had a real rant about the treatment her daughter had received the year before, so she know that she/I were not the only ones.
Good luck. Really if she likes the course, a move is the first step. Then if it does not work out try a flat closer to home. But for us second year has proved night and day compared with the first. Thank goodness.
OP, DD did not come home at all during her first term. Neither she nor we realised that most do. In retrospect she thinks this was a mistake. She was being bullied and her self esteem and confidence were being eroded. She needed to regain persepctive.
One of our DC, who disliked his first year accommodation, had a bit of altercation with a member of the Unite on-site management team. DC went to the accommodation office and said he had been verbally abused by the Unite member of staff, describing the situation. He was moved to alternative university owned accommodation almost immediately.
Could se perhaps investigate events / societies away from campus? It seems a shame not to be able to find anything to her liking with a social side on campus, but universities are 'of Somewhere' and students are allowed to get out and mingle with folk not attached to the university who share similar interests. In theory, in ubsequent years, they will actually be living as normal members of the wider community.
Op, has she no friends on her course? My daughter emailed them all and asked who wanted to join a study group which she started, they then all went to the library or whatever and they had a WhatsApp group chat and it was one of the ways she got to know some of her course mates and settle in.
She should also be deciding who she wants to live with now for next year, and looking at accommodation.
Bluntness, both mine were on large courses where first year lectures would have up to 350 students. DD found a study buddy in her tutor group but their halls were not close so it was really only around exam time when they started to spend a lot of time together. In terms of courses friends the big difference really came in second year. Some of DS options were relatively small, whilst DD was on a pre-term placement with a really good group.
There seems to be a huge variation. At DS' University lots seemed to join societies and this is where he found his friends. At DD's first year social life seems to main centre around flats, not least because halls are some way away from the University. So a lot was down to luck.
Does Durham have a particular reputation for drugs? I thought drug usage was pretty much universal.
I too think it depends on the university. Nothing much centred around my DDs rooms in catered halls and this actually meant students met each other over meals in the dining room. You didn’t just make friends from your immediate neighbours in the room clusters. The society fair early on was completely run by older students who could advise on what to join. Did she go to anything like this? Hall activities carried on after freshers week. Is she in a university run hall? Is there nothing at the hall?
I am amazed there were no freshers week activities. These took many forms for my DDs and it wasn’t all drinking either! However if she didn’t see these, I think different clubs is the way forward. Look at what each club does and work out which are the social ones. DD joined singing ones and actually ran a MFL society in y2. That was very social!
Definitely see if she can change rooms. Students do leave and there will be rooms that appear periodically so keep trying. It is not embarrassing to ask. Not at all. I’m surprised students are taking drugs most evenings. However I think she needs to be more assertive about moving rooms.
Bubbles "I’m surprised students are taking drugs most evenings. "
Given our DDs were both first years at the same University last year, I am amazed. Drug use was huge. Your DD was very lucky to have avoided it. A friend's DD3 has just started at the same University, her sisters having gone elsewhere, and she too has noticed a marked difference in both student behaviour and the support framework.
I think it is important for OP to understand that her DDs experience is not unusual. The majority may be having a ball or may have great coping skills, but this makes it all the more difficult for those who are still trying to find their feet.
I’d be really surprised if it’s Durham because there are very few flats, and you can’t move for freshers reps in the first few weeks. More time spent trying to escape them (and I say that having been one twice...) than trying to find one. Also no accommodation office- you would just hang around your college office making a nuisance of yourself until someone let you move rooms.
I second what Lumpy says and ring the accommodation officer yourself, and I would be honest about why she is looking to move, stating she does not want to be near drug taking.
It is hard to find your niche to begin with at uni, you have to make friends with lots of people before you get comfy with the ones who count.
I am surprised there were no freshers week activities. But she just needs to try to throw herself into clubs, societies, speak to people on her course. Everyone is in the same boat.
Definetly look at societies unrelated to her course. It helps you relax and meet a range of people not just those on the same subject as you.
OP, it can't be easy knowing she's going through this.
If she can change accommodation, I think that will be a great help. She can get to know others who she's more comfortable with in her immediate living area.
You mentioned she has lots of frees. Could she find a Saturday job or a small job for the university. That would get her out more where she could meet other people.
Also, look again at the societies, perhaps have a go at a couple and just see how they go. My DD looked at one that had Wine and Ale Societies, which is a good excuse to socialise.
Did your DD have any hobbies or interests at home?
Needmoresleep, yes my daughter too, I think there were approx four hundred in her first year, although many dropped out by the second, but hence the need for thr study group, and it being a successful way to get close to some, there wasn't many who joined it and they all supported each other to the end of their degree in the summer.