Survive & Thrive University Competition

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We understand that while student life is fun, enriching and for many the best time of their lives, the pressures of exams, deadlines and financial strain can at times be overwhelming. Which is why we wanted to help out! Here at Will Williams Meditation we offered a lucky student the chance to win a beginner’s course in meditation to help you de-stress, increase productivity and make university life a breeze, as well as £2000 CASH to give your bank balance a healthy boost. Just to give you an idea, that money is the equivalent of a terms rent, 400 textbooks, 67 nights out or 4,000 tins of baked beans! However the lucky winner chooses to spend it, (although we’re not sure we’d recommend eating quite that many baked beans) the cash will certainly add a glow to their university experience.

Who Are We?

We’re a meditation company that works with individuals to sustain balance and achieve success in all areas of their personal and professional lives. People who meditate or practice mindfulness experience less stress, more productivity and improved performance, all of which can help you get the most out of your time at university. Our beginners course will give you all the skills required to meditate on your own, making this profound technique work best for you.

Our Winners

We’ve found our winners! After much deliberation, we have selected our three top entries for this years Survive & Thrive competition. We asked students to write 500 words about how they’ve adjusted to university life:

FIRST PLACE: Jessica Loram, Durham University

Jess Loram“Like all of my friends, going to university was my first extended period of being away from home. The 400 miles between university and home stretched physically and psychologically before my eyes. How would I cope? The thought of all the unknowns churned my insides.

Once thrown into the mania of freshers’ week, the pit of my stomach where homesickness lurked grew. Everyone else on my corridor seemed to be having a ball; they partied endlessly without feeling the same physical and emotional exhaustion I was experiencing the next morning. I kept up, but the consecutive drunken, bleary nights out didn’t help me make the genuine friendships I had hoped to secure. In addition to feeling the pressure to fit in socially to make the ‘friends for life’ I had been assured I would find in abundance, the sheer amount of independent academic work overwhelmed me.

Despite trying out numerous society taster classes following freshers’ fair, I felt as lost as I had at the very start. With so many opportunities, it was ironically pretty difficult to find where I fitted in. I found moving away from home threw up questions about what sort of person I wanted to be – or felt I should be – in this new environment. Longing for a piece of home, I went back for a weekend. This was disastrous. All my positive feelings about uni, which counterbalanced the negative, were forgotten during my stay, and exacerbated my homesickness when I returned to university. Everyday I questioned my decision to study a degree. I fantasised about giving it all up and going back to my holiday job in a café near home.

It wasn’t until my second term that an email caught my eye: meditation society. I was in need of an activity I could rely on in the whirlpool of so many competing stresses. I started to attend the weekly sessions and found that the more regularly I meditated, the calmer I felt. I stopped frantically worrying about my future friendships and dwelling on how much easier my past home-life was: I started to attend to the present moment. This had a therapeutic ripple effect on previously stressful aspects of my university life. I felt a bit more confident in myself, and talked more honestly with my new friends about the hard parts of first term. It turned out they’d all experienced similar stresses and also assumed they were the only ones feeling that way, whilst everyone else was enjoying uni carefree.

It’s easy to forget that everyone is in the same rocky boat in adjusting to student life… So if I could go back, I’d tell my fresher self to stop worrying about whether I was good enough, socially and academically, and just be myself, whoever that was or wasn’t. I’d also try and be more open-minded about the future, something I’m still working on, so that I can make the most of just being in the present.”

SECOND PLACE: Hope Harding, Arts University Bournemouth

Hope Harding“But instead of avoiding it any longer I decided to be a yes girl, saying yes to opportunities and embracing student life, I ignored any peer pressure to drink excessive amounts and learnt what I felt comfortable with, staying sober by being the designated driver for the evening to get me off the hook of the endless question “Why aren’t you drinking?”…”

THIRD PLACE: Jemimah Beardwood, St Georges University of London

Jemimah Beardwood“I was always a list maker so I began to make lists of little goals for myself to achieve so it felt like I was making progress each day. I planned out menus for myself and began cooking different recipes whilst listening to music…”

Our Shortlist

All we asked students to do is to write 500 words about how they’ve adjusted to university life. This might be how they’ve found the right balance between studying and partying; what they’ve done to meet new people or the best meals to cook for under 30 pence. And here are snippets of our shortlisted ten:

Ella Potter, University of Sussex

Ella Potter“For me, university is a period of one’s life, it doesn’t just involve assignments and exams; this time brings unique challenges for everybody. My wonderful friends were the antidote to my health issues and they have truly defined my university experience as one that has been fun and fulfilling…”

Jessica Draper, University of Leeds

Jess Draper“An open mind is key, you should never try and pretend to be someone you’re not just to fit in. University is the time when you truly find yourself and make friends for life, which could seem like a stressful experience, however from my knowledge it definitely was not…”


Joseph Shields, University of Aberdeen

Joesph Shields“Fear of the unknown is completely natural, and my method of dealing with it was gradual. Joining the Law Society and the Lacrosse Club gave me a support network, a group of friends I wouldn’t trade for the world. It’s undeniable that over the course of four years, individuals face a number of challenges, be they academic, social or personal. It has been my experience that these challenges are not exclusive to you, and even when they are, getting through them and reaching a solution is a great deal easier with friends by your side…”

Krishan Mistry, University of Manchester

Krishan Mistry“In hindsight, my issue with not adapting to university life initially was probably my lack in confidence. I could even see that with my studying, in that I lacked confidence in my own answers to problems even when it didn’t matter if I got it right or wrong. However, I think the most significant choice that helped me adjust to university life and combating this confidence issue was opting to run the university meditation society. It gave me more approach-ability and also allowed me to improve as an individual…”

Robert Tempelaar, University of Sussex

Robert Templaar“I am fortunate to have friends to which I can say, ‘I am struggling’ without being labelled. This acts like an anchor to me; it makes me feel that I am not alone, and (un)surprisingly, I have discovered that if we are struggling we are rarely the only ones, and that is okay, it makes us human. Often it is ‘simple’ acceptance without judgment that helps us cope…”

Leah Slater-Radway, University of Manchester

Leah Slater-Radway“Not commonly discussed, university life can be a breeding ground for loneliness. While it is the ‘social hub ‘of life, not being an extrovert, athletic or even ‘indie’ enough can leave you feeling out of place and like you don’t belong. To overcome this, I have realised that firstly, it is OK to be alone, and necessary to learn to enjoy your own company. Secondly, in order to get more out of life, we do have to push ourselves out of our comfort zones: try new things and face challenging situations…”

Moses Asiimwe, Lancaster University

Moses Asiimwe“My flat-mates taught me how to cook, program administrators sent as much useful information as possible… When they say that “good people bring out the good in people”, I now understand. I can now live well, attend lectures, cook for myself, and study with others…”

Our top three entries will receive:

1st Prize: £2000 cash plus a beginner’s meditation course

2nd Prize: £500 plus a beginner’s meditation course

3rd Prize: A beginner’s meditation course

Find out how Vedic Meditation can help reduce your anxiety

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