Starting University is a scary time, leaving the comfort of your home and your family is one that stirs up feelings of fear mixed with excitement. Excitement of meeting new friends, starting a new life, being a fresher and most importantly, taking the first step on your path to your dream career.
But what if your visions of fantastic new friends and happiness is not what you arrive too? What if you are faced with homesickness, pressure towards sex, drugs and alcohol, and even more unexpected, bullying? Unfortunately, this happens – and having witnessed, and experienced, first hand all of these things, I want to make a change.
No one expects bullying or unhappiness as a fresher. But I know people, and sadly quite a few, who dropped out of university during first year because of difficulty to fit in or make friends, difficulty to settle in another city and be away from their loved ones, and even ones who found the pressure for drugs, sex and alcohol too much. People who – because they have wanted to focus more on their studies, or who may not be the prettiest or the skinniest, have been victims too bullying. No one relates bullying at university, in fact – it is mostly seen as more of primary or secondary school behaviour but unfortunately, bullying happens everywhere; in schools, university and even the workplace.
It’s such a shame that the students who faced this dropped out of university. They sacrificed their career and their university experience just because they had no one to turn too. And that’s where I come in. I want to set up a society for students who may be experiencing any of this – difficulty settling in, making new friends, peer pressure or bullying. It will be a place where they can come to seek advice on confidence issues, safe sex or use of drugs or alcohol or to talk in confidentiality about the problems they are facing. They will be able to talk too others who may be experiencing the same thing and weekly groups and mentoring sessions will be held. There will be someone available 24/7 via phone, e-mail, or just to meet for a chat whenever they are feeling down.
It will include an online and offline community. Social networks and a website will allow people to find the information and advice they need all the time and be able to contact someone. The offline community will consist of meetings, socials, one-to-one mentoring sessions and drop-in sessions.
So – what do I need from my fantastic readers? Basically – your support. Basically, this is just an idea. One I want to implement, but without support and help, something I will find difficult to do. As you may be aware, I am currently completing my one year placement and I will not be returning to University until September 2012. I want to set it up in my Student Union but as I will not be back at the University for another year this is a little unrealistic. I do not want to sit on it till then, I want to get it into action right away – but I will need help, support and advice. (I haven’t even thought of a name!)
I want to get a twitter account set up and a website, but without a name I can’t do this yet. So if anyone has any creative suggestions for a name, please let me know! Also, I’d like to know if anyone has experienced anything similar that I have mentioned in this post, whether it was at University or when you were five years old. I’d love for you to get on board as a mentor and offer your support and advice to others and just help me with the process basically.
All comments, opinions, suggestions and offers welcome!