Ask Jigsaw: Moving away for college | Advice for Young People

Ask Jigsaw: Moving away for college

I’m moving away to go to college in September, I know and have my course already.

It will be my first time living away from home and I have a been offered a space in a house with a cousin and some friends of theirs who are already in college.

The thing is I don’t really know my cousin that well. We’re not going to be in the same college. This has been organised by our parents and I don’t know the other people. I haven’t even seen the house yet but I’m getting really anxious about living with some strangers but also someone I am meant to know but don’t really and haven’t since we were young.

Moving away from home can feel overwhelming and scary

Emma, Jigsaw Clinician

Hi there,

It sounds like you have lots of change ahead of you, which can be exciting, but also overwhelming. At Jigsaw, we know that it would not be unusual for people who are preparing for college to talk about some of the worries that you have mentioned.

First of all, moving away from home can feel overwhelming and scary. Often when faced with something new and unknown, we start to imagine the worst possible scenarios. We think of all the things that could go wrong and this is frightening. The reality is, we can’t predict the future.

When you notice yourself imagining the worst, try asking yourself what is the likelihood that this will actually happen? And even if it did happen, how would you cope? Is there an alternative way to think about things? Might there be positives? Feeling anxious about new situations is absolutely normal, however, we don’t want the anxiety to take over and stop us from enjoying a new experience.  Find out what you can about managing feelings of anxiety.

It can take a bit of time and effort to establish new friendships, or re-establish an existing one.

Emma, Jigsaw Clinician

You also mention the worry about sharing a house with strangers. It can feel weird when you share a space with people that you don’t really know. It brings up the potential for frustration and conflict. It will be important to approach new relationships with openness, flexibility and clear communication. Aim to address any issues or concerns with housemates as they arise rather than letting things build up.

When moving to college, many people can feel daunted at the prospect of getting to know people and making new friends. It can take a bit of time and effort to establish new friendships, or re-establish an existing one. The nice thing about college is that there are many people in the same boat, looking to find their ‘tribe’. Whether or not you develop close relationships with your housemates, there will be other opportunities to find people to connect to. Read more about being anxious in new social situations.

Be aware that every young person heading to college for the first time will have some worries about it, even if it doesn’t look it. So, do remember you are not on your own. It may be helpful to talk through your worries with someone you trust. If you feel that your parents have made a decision without involving you in it, it might be worth letting them know how you feel.

Once you move and start your course, there is a good chance you will start to feel more relaxed. If you find it hard to cope with your new situation and you feel you need some additional support, most colleges in Ireland offer a range of different options to support student mental health. You can find out more about the types of support that are available here.

Take care,

Emma, Jigsaw Clinician