Student bar prices, combined with late night kebabs and all-nighters while you try and meet essay deadlines, mean that university isn’t always the healthiest time. It’s not always easy to juggle all the new experiences, the freedom, the academic and sometimes social pressures. However, if you keep a few simple things in mind, the juggling act shouldn’t be too hard and you’ll be able to have fun whilst doing it. After all this is your chance to meet lots of lesbian, gay and bisexual people, and you want to make sure that you look and feel good whilst doing it!
Setting pulses racing
Even though you may never be as agile as Louie Spence, you don’t have to conform to the lazy, slobbish student stereotype either. Plus, exercising has its benefits and as well as helping you feel energised and refreshed, will keep you calm during stressful periods around exams and deadlines. In addition, university sports teams are one of the best ways to meet people. If organised fun isn’t for you then you should think about including light exercise in your daily routine – try taking the stairs instead of the lift or walking instead of catching the bus. Most universities have cheap leisure facilities. Enjoy cheap gym prices while you can.
Eating properly is key, and so is getting enough sleep. Not only does it keep you healthy, it’s also vital to make sure that you’re studying effectively and to have all the energy to enjoy your time at university to the full. Otherwise you’ll be more susceptible to bugs and will quickly become grouchy and lethargic; not the way you want to spend your university days! Eat a balanced diet and find the amount of sleep that’s right for you. You’ll need to have breakfast every morning and drink plenty of water!
Regular exercise is great for mental health too – it helps you forget your worries and look at things with a fresh perspective. But if you do find yourself feeling overly stressed, depressed, or are having any other serious difficulties remember it’s not unusual and you’re not the only one. All universities have someone available for you to speak to. You shouldn’t be ashamed of it either. University is a stressful time and we all need help and support at one point or another, whether from friends, peers, or professionals. The University and the student union usually offer welfare and support services such as confidential counselling, and it may only take a few sessions for things to improve.
Coming out both to yourself and others and being in a new environment can be a really stressful time. There should always be someone for you to talk to if you’re having issues around your sexuality, whether it’s difficulty with accepting your sexual orientation, coming out to your friends and family, having trouble with a partner, or needing more information about safer sex. Most universities will have either a specific point of contact in the student LGBT society or student union or will offer generic counselling services providing someone for you to talk your problems over with.
An occasional drink with friends
Universities are famous for their drinking culture, and the gay scene is no exception. Chances are that you’ll want to get out on the scene as soon as possible and flex the muscles of your new found freedom.
Going out is a great opportunity to meet other lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, and gay scenes are places where you’re free to express yourself. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional drink (or more) during your night, but it can become a problem if you start drinking too much, too regularly, or putting yourself at risk. Remember you don’t have to drink loads to have a good time, and other people should respect it if you choose not to drink at all. Alcohol might seem like an integral part of the gay scene but it doesn’t have to be. Drinking responsibly means you can have a great night out and not feel terrible the next day. It’s simple – know your limits and stick to them!
Remember that drugs are illegal. If you get caught with them you could be kicked out of college. Nor are ‘legal highs’ any safer.
If you are worried about your or a friend’s drug use then seek help. The website Talk to Frank is a great one stop shop with information about every kind of drug out there and good tips about what to do if you have concerns.
We were inevitably going to come to it eventually. For some of you this is the thing that has you most excited about university. The thing about sex and relationships is that everyone is different and the important thing is that you're happy with the decisions you're making. Nobody has the right to force you into anything, and you should develop the skills and confidence to make sure that you are only having the kind of sex you want, when you want it, and that doesn't harm you or your partner.
Going out on the scene can also be a little intimidating at first and everything might seem like it revolves around getting laid. However lots of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people will go through university without having sex, if that’s what they choose.
Regardless, you need to decide when you are ready and not feel pressured to get off with the first gay guy or lesbian girl that you meet. When you are and you have found someone you are attracted to and trust, make sure you have the knowledge to make informed choices about the relationships and sex you want to have. Your university and the LGBT society should provide information for lesbian, gay, and bisexual students about sexual health and about how to make safer choices when it comes to sexual partners and situations.
Just some general advice: you should also always protect yourself against STIs (sexually transmitted infections) by using barrier methods such as condoms (this includes for use with sex toys) or dental dams. You don’t have to have penetrative sex to get an STI – skin to skin contact is enough for infections like herpes and public lice. But fear not: many student unions provide different types of protection for free so stock up and never be caught short.