My name is Xander, I am 22 and I am studying Primary Education Studies (or PES for short) at Cardiff Met. One of my biggest fears coming to university was how people would react to the fact that I am transgender. I worried about how people would treat me, whether I’d make friends and how living with people I had never met would go.
I am living in halls at Liberty House this year. This isn’t on campus but it’s not too far away, and for me this is a great place to live. The dorms are small, so I live with 4 other people compared to up to 16 people in some of the other accommodation. This did come at a price, but it was worth it for me. Still, the idea of living with complete strangers scared me before I arrived. How would they treat me? What if they were uncomfortable about the fact I am trans? What would I do if they didn’t treat me well?
These and many more questions went through my head. In the end, I needn’t have worried so much – everyone I have met in the dorms has been nice and the staff are lovely too. How did I choose to live in these particular halls? I chose to live in a mix gender dorm because I wasn’t comfortable living with just one. I also made the decision very early on that I had to have my own bathroom. This was an essential for me as I wouldn’t have been able to share. What if someone walked in?!?!
Making friends was another thing that scared me. I’m quite a quiet person at first, so I can be a bit difficult to talk to until I get to know someone. Knowing this, I made an effort to start talking to the people I would be living with through a Facebook group chat. This made moving in a lot easier, and it meant that when I arrived I wasn’t so worried about who I was living with.
Making friends on my course was my next worry, and the best advice I can give is to just get stuck in! This is what I did. I made a comment to someone I was stood next to during a class and now we’re good friends and hang out all the time. It can be hard if you’re shy but if you push yourself and just talk to people you will make friends with ease. Joining societies is also a good way to get connected and make friends, there is a LGBT society, they hold socials regularly where you can get to know everyone, and they’re a lot of fun.
So to sum up, my top three tips for anyone coming to uni, whether or not they’re transgender would be:
- Get stuck in there and talk to people
- Join societies – they’re a great way to make friends
- Have fun. You’re not at university forever – studying is important but so is having fun!
Read more top tips on settling in during first year at uni in our Freshers’ Guides, or check out a video of Xander helping to test out our new Sensory Room facilities below.