Pride and prejudice

Okay this is a bit difficult to construct for me. Please make allowances when reading.
Right my son is in his second year at Newcastle university which is part of the Russell group.
Take it that means more to some than me on here.
Anyway after a good first year and making the transition to a new city and going from campus to a house share a problem has arose.
On coming home for Christmas my lad broke down and said he’s lost confidence and feels isolated up there and fell behind in his work.
The reason he stated is and it affected him last year as well is he doesn’t feel like he’s accepted.
He’s pretty easy going and makes friends easily.
The problem is background it seems. He’s coming from state education and mixing with public school students.
People aren’t bullying really just the divides a bit of a reach.
He’s got people talking about horses and stables and parents working in business. He’s got dad in Royal Mail and mum in care work and mates in unskilled work and apprenticeship.
He’s made a couple of acquaintance on the course who like football but says they like mimicking his accent which then leaves him to play he feels there clown.
He then feels compromised and pride kicks in and he just gets out the way. This has effected him badly leading to panic attacks and stressful tension and triggering a lot of negatives.
Thankfully his tutor who he trusts has picked up and brought support system in to place.
This has lead my son having to seek help medically and get a referral for some counseling and assessment.
So I’m seeking any feedback you can give me on this people.
Know plenty went through uni education, did anyone suffer anything like this. If so how did you cope with it.
Anything you’ve got guys I’d appreciate. Won’t lie I’m concerned and a little scared if I’m honest.


I’ll be more thorough later, but the fact that he is mature enough to ask for help, and that he is getting help, is a great thing.

I hope that the fact that he is getting help at least allays some of your fears.


It’s great that he has opened up to you about this. Must relieve some of the pressure off and you’d surely much rather that than him bottling up a detrimental mind-frame. There’s no shame at all.

It sounds like a genuine social anxiety that’s probably only recently cropped up in his life and built up during the Uni journey. If he hasn’t experienced those before then it might have shocked him tbh.

From personal experience it’s not the Uni experience that’s necessarily caused it. Uni could just be the trigger for some issues he was always gonna have to confront.

This is probably just part of his growth into manhood. He’ll come out a lot more self-assured imo.


Thanks for this. Going to look into all this with as open a mind as I can. Thanks for caring and taking the time to post.

I’m very concerned to hear this, stroller.

It appears, on the first hand, that those kids around him who are a little more privileged and have that metaphorical silver spoon in their mouth are exactly that- kids. They won’t grow up. They won’t see the real world or interact with others. Case in point, they’re local.

Furthermore, if they’re going to efforts to mock a fellow student, then they’re definitely not going to grow up.

My experience of university is that while it may have been stressful and you may have been part of a larger friends network that dwindles down over the years, there is no direct character assasination. Which is why I find the behaviour of these morons all the more astounding.

I think in terms of reaching out, our University had a chaplain. He was open to all walks of life, ethnic backgrounds and religious persuasions. Might this be an option?

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Take everything on board mate. Take a percentage of everything on board here and will go over all of it. Thanks.

I doubt this is the only problem tbh mate. Going from an area and school/college where you know everyone to a Uni where everyones a stranger is a huge challenge to anyone who’s a natural introvert. He also doesn’t have the support base anymore of his family, which will make it all the more difficult.

My advice would be to discuss with him that he probably has issues with being introverted and lacking confidence. I would advice he joins Uni groups of anything he’s interested in. So he can meet friends. Tell him to ask anyone he chats with on his courses to go for a coffee/beer/meal with. Tell him to ask lots of open ended questions with anyone he chats to because this will provoke a discussion.

Also while the base of students probably are a tad more middle class I’d imagine the lad who has a horse in stables is the exception rather than the rule. I’d imagine most of the kids are from state school but middle class.


The fact your son is talking about it to you is a good thing.
it’s better that he does that than bottle it up and tell no one.

Also, the problem with this sort of behaviour of people mocking someone because of where their from or their accent, probably lies more with the person saying these things rather than the person on the receiving end.

Anyone who is well rounded and secure would have no need to bully someone like this.
It sounds as if the people he is socialising with are taking out their insecurities on anyone that is slightly different.

I’ve often found people who bully or try and belittle others are often insecure themselves.
When anyone has confided in me about this sort of behaviour I’ve told them to take it as a compliment, because they see you as someone they probably want to be like.

In some ways you could even feel sorry for the sort of people who feel the need to mock others because they are lacking social skills and just want to deflect their insecurities by taking it out on someone else.

Your son sounds like a decent sort of person so I’m sure it will turn out ok.

On a side note, I worked in a very expensive private school recently and while I was walking round the school I saw a notice board.
There was a sports section on it and one of the things they seemed successful in was the equestrian events.
Coming from an education in a local comprehensive this was not something I’d come across before but I then realised that to send a child to this private school probably cost more than most people’s annual salary.

But the children I spoke to there were no better than at any other school and were slightly arrogant.
So if it was a choice to hang around with people like this, or people like your son, I know who I’d prefer, if only for the reason I’m better at football than dressage. :grinning:


Yeah I might have over simplified with the title one angle of this.
There’s a percentage of it played apart but he has told me more about other motivation issues he’s had in the past and other situations he’s looking back on.
He has been advised to join a society and contemplating that now.

I think it’s massively important that he has told you all this. To me that says he knows there is something not right and he wants you (his parents) to know too. It may seem that he only let that out as he broke down but I’d suspect it’s more complex than that and it’s more he wanted to tell ye and he was always going to break down.

Great news too that his educators have copped this and started to help. Right now they are his closest support system. Really encourage him to keep talking to you about how that is going. With a few hundred miles between you you have to put your trust in other people.

I don’t have a huge amount of practical advice to offer but I’d say that given he is facing these challenges it’s so far so good in terms of him getting through them.


Also this is bullying but also ladish banter. He just needs a decent comebacks. Perhaps watching stand up comedy will help him with this.

Either way he just needs to force himself to socialise with as many people as possible so he can pick and choose real friends. This won’t be easy for him, it will put him outside his comfort zone but it will pay dividends for him in terms of his esteem and confidence.

I’ve heard it argued that networking in university is more useful than the education itself.

If Uni is anything like my day they have societies for anything you might have an interest in, ie: football, chess, religion, your sons favourite interest etc. If there’s a topic he’s interested in that doesn’t exist he can create his own society and put up posters for it.

I don’t necessarily agree with this. This could well help but equally could be a negative if he tried to fit in again and again and again and he just doesn’t.

I’m so disinclined to meet new people or try out new social situations that when I do it I just feel so awkward that I spend the whole time squirming inside. Sometimes life will dictate that I have to do this (a wedding for example) but I’m able to build up to things like that. If I was to just throw myself into meeting new people I know it would end up with me feeling shit.

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Does he have a job up there? When I was studying I worked in the bookies and I spent much more time with my colleagues than other students, they were just a bit more on my level not just because of background but because I was in my mid-20s and that bit older than most of the people I was studying with.

Maybe something other than uni in his life up there might help?

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He tried throwing himself into a lot of situations at first but didn’t enjoy it too much when he first went.
He is though about to join a non League football society.


Myself and my mum are massive introverts. My mum said despite suffering from social anxiety when she was at home with me in a new neighbourhood when I was a baby she forced herself to knock on every door to chat. This resulted in her having a large network of friends.

I also suffer from social anxiety but when I do put myself out there to meet people I tend to find allot of people actually want to have a chat

The reason you’d ‘feel like shit’ I’d imagine is because your analysing every part of the communication with the stranger and believe they’ll view you negatively. Where as someone who’s extrovert wouldn’t have any of these misgivings.

That doesn’t mean that trying to expand your social network wouldn’t be benefiticial to yourself and Stroller’s Son. But perhaps part of it is valuing the worth you bring to the table.

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I want to say something but not sure what, I don’t really understand that… fancy (?)… elitist (lack of better word) uni stuff that exists in the US and the UK very well, I mostly see it in media. I also hang out in academia and I’m from a lower/working class environment and never fit in particularly well here by any social marker, nor do I feel particularly comfortable in academia still after several years, I feel we maybe, probably have less of that divide thing here but it is noticeable, I still pick up on it and I learn new social details still, it sounds dramatic in words but it is all in the details, clothes, practices, what people talk about during lunch etc. that stuff. What happened for me was that me and a few other people who are also from the same background-ish quickly found each other and have hung out and been friends throughout and ever since, and it was probably crucial for me. I also strongly recognise the “pride kicks in” thing but have thankfully not had any experiences as severe as that which you describe there, which is good because I am ridiculously stubborn. I eventually found ways to gel with almost everybody.

My gf had a story more similar to your son’s during the same period, she moved to another city and started studying at a prestigious-ish uni and her entire class was kind of different from her and she had big problems fitting in socially and she’s highly dependant on being able to generally, she struggled loads, experienced the same symptoms as your son and it was a very rough ride for her, she felt extremely home sick all the time, got behind in studies etc. She pushed through it best she could and ended up doing her examination project on distance from back home, it was the only viable option after a few years.

The whole situation put a significant strain on our relationship as well as I was in just as much need of my social life to just… work in order to be able to study at the pace I had taken on and learn how to move in academia and here my gf was suffering every day while I needed to be be self centered sort of. Taking on a difficult education, it’s cost, the pressure of succeeding etc. and the stress that comes with it can easily make you depressed if the rest of your life isn’t helping you but rather making it more difficult for you. I can’t stress that enough. Some might even remember during my/our roughest period a few years ago I was lashing out here on OA right and left as well :sweat_smile: not my finest moments.

The common concept I guess is that we need the social stuff to work in order to do our studies in the long run, I have found that it is really, really hard to take on difficult studies if the basics in your life (I include an ok social life in that) are not there, you need them to be. In fact, ideally I need every single detail in my life to just… work to do alright at uni in the long run, it is really hard otherwise, so I sympathise strongly here.

Again I think the social details are very important and I don’t understand them enough over in your country (basically I have no idea what “Russell group” stereotypical people are like but I probably would in my own country) to give any actual advice, but I can confirm from experience that I had to find a solution for my own similar (but perhaps less severe) situation while my gf couldn’t and she had to go home prematurely and finish her graduate degree from distance, she’s no crybaby but it was not optional here. Wish I had better tips to give but I can at least confirm the whole situation sounds familiar and is definitely a common thing. You’re doing the right thing in taking this seriously.

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Joining the football and boxing team was how I made most of my mates at uni. Had a few friends from my course as well that I sussed out early on, but the vast majority of my best mates came from football and those guys make up the foundation of my friendship group 10 years on.

Highly recommend that he try and get stuck in with any clubs and societies that interest him - at a big uni like Newcastle there’ll be a club or society for literally anything whether it’s tabletop gaming, lacrosse, sea swimming, photography etc.


yeah what @Cristo wrote might help, not just for the social part of it being in a team or doing it with people. I train a lot, physical work produces endorphins, gives you energy to take on your daily battles, having your routines in check, sleeping well and regularly, eating well etc. it keeps depression at bay surprisingly well. Might sound abstract but I really do think it helps out significantly.


No. That’s not it at all. I’m very comfortable in my own skin and in my own comfort zone. I ultimately do not care what others think and can compartmentalise negative interactions well. Certainly as a 22 year old I’d be a bit more inclined towards what you’re saying.

I just think it worth noting that this advice simply won’t be for everyone. It may well work for Stroller Jr and I’m not saying he shouldn’t encourage it but I just think it’s the type of thing that you need to be careful with because what starts out as a positive can quickly become a negative. I’d say dip some toes, don’t jump in at the deep end.