Double-Life Whiplash and How to Overcome It


Written by Gabriella Wieland – Student Writer

Double-life whiplash while to-ing and fro-ing at university is most definitely a thing. One minute, you’re living the high-life of independence. You’re doing your thing, having vodka for breakfast if that’s what you damn-well want to have – boom. The next minute, your back at your eerily quiet childhood home, your dad’s shouting at you for leaving socks in the bathroom and it’s like you never even left to study for that really expensive degree.

Humans need change, that’s for sure. After all, change is integral to human life, and while we thrive on change, we sure as anything become disorientated when we have to do a full 180 and revert back to our old habits.

Thus, double-life whiplash is born.

Below are some tips to deal with this very life symptom of University:

  1. Spend Longer Periods of Time At Home Or University

There was a time when I would go home on consecutive weekends for social occasions at home. Alongside a degree in your chosen area of study, a lot of students go to university in hope of a crazy new social-schedule, one where you eyeball shots for breakfast shouting ‘down it fresher’. For me, it was the opposite. Coming from a big city and studying in a much smaller one, my time at university felt comfortable. I’d spend most of my days hibernating in the library and my social life was not ‘crazy’, but I enjoyed it. I felt as though I had the true ‘uni-experience’ when I returned home to my Sunday-club loving heathens I call friends. I loved each half of my ‘double-life’, but it did often become problematic for me to keep up with each of them. Sometimes, I ended up returning home every weekend for weeks on end, and this is when the peak of my ‘Double-Life Whiplash’ set in. It was hard returning home every weekend, only to have to adapt straight back to the cycle of lectures, deadlines, and fresh faces all over again.

I found that when I stayed at university for large chunks and only returned home for prolonged periods also (Christmas and Easter, for example), it was much easier to adjust to each cycle.

Whether this is you, or you are surrounded by endless social opportunities at university and coming home is a shock to the system for lack of said social events, it can sometimes be difficult to keep up with each facsimile of your existence.

In summary? Stay at university for long chunks of time. Do the same when going home. Repeat. Check.

  1. Go Back To University Over Summer

Of course, this is totally dependent on your housing-contract. If you’re lucky (or unlucky, depending which way you look at it) enough to have housing over the summer – go back! Meet up with your housemates and course friends – or simply take your friends from home up for a day or so. Either way, get reacquainted with life at your place of study. While it’s beneficial to adjust to each version of your life for extended periods to beat off that jerking-whiplash sensation, it doesn’t harm to dip back to either place, either. If this isn’t possible due to your housing sitch, invite your uni-friends to come and see you over the summer. Seeing familiar faces will certainly help with the move back to university after a long, much-needed summer.

  1. Take Reminders From Home/University

This is an obvious one. But if you can pin-point whether it’s home-life or university-life that you’re struggling to adjust back to (or, both) then take a reminder from home or university each time you visit. I have a mood lamp that I’ve taken to each house I’ve lived in, at home or at university, and it really helps to make each room feel like home.

I had a friend who’d take her shot glasses home from university with her to stare longingly at whenever she was missing the sesh. Whatever works for you, I guess.

  1. Prepare For The Dreaded G-Word: Graduation.

When you start university as a fresh-faced first-year, full of hope and drinking games, graduation seems a far-off distant myth that only those peculiarly down-beaten third-years speak of.

Without wanting to rain on your King’s Cup-parade, graduation is not a myth. I repeat, it is not a myth. It, for sure, exists and comes around much sooner than you’d imagine. Double-life whiplash soon turns into post-uni blues (really, we have to leave???), and having to fully adjust back to your old-life (if this is the path you choose). My best advice is to prepare, prepare, prepare.

While during those final months of third-year can be all-consuming with stress, deadlines and exam preparation, please take a little time out to de-stress and plan for your future.

The real world is most definitely approaching! Whether you want to travel on a gap-year, become an intern in a totally new city, or stay on at your place of study and complete a Masters or find a job there – this all takes preparation. Of course, it’s doable – but don’t pretend the real world isn’t out there waiting. It is.

  1. Enjoy It!

This one strongly correlates with Tip 4. While to-ing and fro-ing to each version of your new crazy life can sometimes be disorientating – take time out to appreciate the fact that you have those two versions.

When one is becoming mundane, or simply too stressful, there lies another distant-realm (OK, house/flat) to hop off to and vent or let off some steam. It’s rare that, after graduating, you’re able to do this. Of course, if you move away and still have your parents’ house to come back to – that’s great. For a lot of people, however, this isn’t the case.

For me, I moved straight back home in a haze of happiness, consumed in a bubble of joy that the stress of third-year was over and so occupied with seeing old-friends that I forgot I was now in the ‘real world’ that those peculiar graduates used to speak of – then boom. I realised I was a peculiar graduate. Double-life whiplash kicked in again – when I realised, it’s not a double life anymore (cue suspense music). Of course, moving back home is not all doom and gloom. Neither is graduating – that was the goal of the last three (or four) years, after all. What is sometimes difficult, though, is having to fully integrate back into a life that you have become somewhat distant and detached from.

Thus, the importance of tip four comes back into play: prepare, prepare, prepare.

While Post-Uni blues are most certainly a thing, if you prepare efficiently then the transition process is most certainly eased. In fact, with adequate preparation for your future, you can simply enjoy the period of freedom between your next stage and have fun catching up with all those old, familiar faces again!

Check out more of Gabriella’s articles here!

Gabriella Wieland
Author: Gabriella Wieland

Gabriella Wieland is a writer and English Literature graduate. She spends most of her time trying to keep her mini-poppadom obsession at bay and finding adventures of the ‘free’ variety. Residing in Manchester, she also spends much of her time liaising with scientists to find a geographical cure for eternally-grey skies and Vitamin D deficiency.