Managing Change

The start of college life can be a daunting experience. The majority of students will feel some degree of loneliness and homesickness in the first couple of weeks and this is totally normal. Successful students are those that can recognise and accept transition for what it is - a natural period of adjustment that will soon pass.

Adjusting to change takes time and patience. Here are a few things you can do to help yourself make the transition:

Get involved

  • Do enjoyable things
  • Try something new and meet new people!
  • Get organised
  • Look forwards, not back
  • Connect with others
  • Be patient and allow yourself time to settle
  • Stop giving yourself a hard time

Before starting college

Once you know that you will be attending University of Galway, then it would do no harm for you to visit the college before the start of term! Having even a rough idea of the layout of the college, especially where your department is based, will make settling in, a lot more straightforward. Why not take a look at our interactive map to help you become more familiar with campus.

Do some research into the many societies and clubs available in the university so that you have an idea of which ones you might be interested in. This way you’ll have some ideas of who to look for on the Socs and Clubs days at the start of the year.


  • Day-to-Day Life – During the first few weeks of college you may feel bombarded with information. You will be given info about modules, assignments, holidays, timetables, deadlines and housing. Be gentle with yourself, getting used to the everyday life in college should be your first priority.
  • Friendships – You will find that your social circles will be multiplying and expanding gradually over the course of your time in college. You will be meeting new people through your course, through societies and through other friends. It is important to know that you don't have to force yourself to be as close to all of these new friends as you may have been to smaller groups at home.
  • Homesickness – Leaving home for the first time can feel very daunting, especially when moving in with strangers and meeting new people.  Remember, there is no shame in talking to family and friends at home regularly. However, do allow yourself to be free and a little more distant as time goes on, to ensure that you really relax into independent living.
  • Decorate your room – If your new room feels unhomely and unpleasant, then you should make sure that you decorate it as you would a room at home. Posters, pictures with friends and decorations will make you feel far more at home in your new room.
  • Making friends – If you are struggling to make friends, then you should strongly consider joining one of the college’s many societies and clubs. There is almost certainly one that will fit your interests and that will enable you to make new friends. with similar interests to you.
  • Changes at home – There might be changes that happen to your home, or to the people within it, while you are away. You will have  experienced living life independently and may struggle between enjoying the safety of home and wanting to continue to be your own boss and take on responsibility. Home may have rules or cultural norms you don’t agree with, and your friends and family may not agree with the new ideas you will have. It is normal to feel unsure as you will have two lives in different places with the expectations being different in each. Integrating change is part of the university experience.

I am an international student and I am missing my family in my home country 

Settling into a totally new environment and culture can be a jarring experience. Trying to embrace the newness and the change of it  can be very beneficial to you as well as maintaining contact with your family and friends at home. Keeping them updated on what you’ve been up to will help ease any loneliness you may feel. It is important to remain active and to explore during your time here. Try joining one of the college’s many societies and clubs to either start a new hobby or keep up an existing one. It will also help you to make new friends with similar interests. There is also an Erasmus Students Network in University of Galway that encourages interaction between international students and Irish students as well as organising cultural trips and events for international students to meet.

Reaching the end of College – Final Year

Finishing your degree can be a challenging experience. For most students, life has been mostly focused on education. Suddenly, the idead of being out in the real world of work, without the support of university may seem unfamiliar and frightening.

Once college ends, everything doesn’t need to happen all at once. Give yourself time to adjust to the change and explore your options. You may feel pressured to find a job or a new place to live but take time to pricess the transition. Let the reality of leaving college set in, and try to let your plans form naturally and carefully instead of jumping into something without planning. Be kind to yourself and make sure that your choices for post-college life – whether that be further education, travel or employment – are the best choices for you at this stage in your life.