The Student Room Group

Freshers’ week - Help

Hi, anyone else who has started university with germophobia/emetophobia, I need some advice. I have a severe phobia of illness (in part due to the fact I have autism as well), and as university gets closer I’m becoming increasingly more scared of sharing accommodation. I’m in shared kitchen and shared bathroom and wanted to know how other people have coped with this. I don’t drink alcohol because of my anxiety but I’ve heard things about ‘freshers flu’ is this real? I don’t want to come home because I can’t cope. Or am I worrying about nothing ? Is everyone going to be ill in the first few weeks ? When people I live with are ill I just stop functioning, I can’t eat or use the same bathrooms. At this point I don’t even know if I want to go which is a shame because I’m very academic love studying and have always wanted to go to this particular uni. Sorry if that was a nonsense mess (again I have autism my train of thought doesn’t always stay on track).

TL;DR
Help, I have emetophobia and I’m staying in uni halls in September, advice for freshers week and general living needed asap.
Hey :smile:

Emetophobia sounds very challenging to live with
Yes, some people you live with may fall ill during freshers, but they could also fall ill any other time of the year too. Have you ever reached out for help before? Something like CBT might really help you cope with your phobia during your time at uni
Reply 2
This is so tough - I had a similar phobia about germs and contaminants but was fortunate to live in en suite accommodation which really reduced the pressure. The first year was quite tough because I wanted to be sociable etc but found it difficult to overcome the fear.

But I actually found that my phobia lessened significantly as a result of going to university. I did get ill from contact with other students, I did encounter challenging situations where I wanted to run away but couldn't... but actually, I somehow just coped with it and came to realise that I was actually more frightened of the fear than the reality. I wouldn't say I was "cured", but I have at least found ways to manage it all.

I suspect you'd do better with an en suite room. What is your university's en suite provision like? Do they have any at all? It is perhaps a bit late now but you could quite legitimately write to the accommodation office, explain the situation (and if you have a doctor's note or any kind of official diagnosis letter then that would be even better), and ask if you could transfer rooms. Or you may be able to find an accommodation swap listing on your university's page on this forum.
Reply 3
Original post by Squiggles1238
Hey :smile:

Emetophobia sounds very challenging to live with
Yes, some people you live with may fall ill during freshers, but they could also fall ill any other time of the year too. Have you ever reached out for help before? Something like CBT might really help you cope with your phobia during your time at uni

Yeah emetophobia sucks to live with sometimes when it gets bad I can’t go in the house if someone is ill. I have to be very careful not to let my fear become horrible for everyone else to live with too as I get quite controlling (I’m working on it though !) yeah I’ve tried getting help, tried CBT, holistic therapies, counselling, talk therapy …. 😂 but was told last week after 10 years of different CBT therapists and counsellors etc that traditional therapies probably not going to work because of my autism 🙄 hopefully uni is going to have a mentor for autism though so that helps with some of those struggles, I’m really trying to not let it stop me going but it’s a tough one.
Thanks for your reply 🙂
Reply 4
Original post by fedora34
This is so tough - I had a similar phobia about germs and contaminants but was fortunate to live in en suite accommodation which really reduced the pressure. The first year was quite tough because I wanted to be sociable etc but found it difficult to overcome the fear.

But I actually found that my phobia lessened significantly as a result of going to university. I did get ill from contact with other students, I did encounter challenging situations where I wanted to run away but couldn't... but actually, I somehow just coped with it and came to realise that I was actually more frightened of the fear than the reality. I wouldn't say I was "cured", but I have at least found ways to manage it all.

I suspect you'd do better with an en suite room. What is your university's en suite provision like? Do they have any at all? It is perhaps a bit late now but you could quite legitimately write to the accommodation office, explain the situation (and if you have a doctor's note or any kind of official diagnosis letter then that would be even better), and ask if you could transfer rooms. Or you may be able to find an accommodation swap listing on your university's page on this forum.

Nice to know someone has been through similar 🙂 I’ve looked at en-suite rooms, but they are way out of my budget (if budgeting wasn’t an issue I’d go for a studio apartment or catered halls so I didn’t have to share kitchens either), I do have an official ASD diagnosis with the psychologist report commenting on emetophobia, so I probably could go through the uni disability services/DSA ? I thought it might be too late for that now though. Like you mentioned it’s a struggle to balance the wanting to go out and socialise and yet being terrified of the germs, I already struggle to make friends, I don’t want people to think I’m anti-social aha. Thanks for your reply, I appreciate knowing I’m not the only one 🙂
Reply 5
Original post by Georgee37
Nice to know someone has been through similar 🙂 I’ve looked at en-suite rooms, but they are way out of my budget (if budgeting wasn’t an issue I’d go for a studio apartment or catered halls so I didn’t have to share kitchens either), I do have an official ASD diagnosis with the psychologist report commenting on emetophobia, so I probably could go through the uni disability services/DSA ? I thought it might be too late for that now though. Like you mentioned it’s a struggle to balance the wanting to go out and socialise and yet being terrified of the germs, I already struggle to make friends, I don’t want people to think I’m anti-social aha. Thanks for your reply, I appreciate knowing I’m not the only one 🙂


There will be no harm in writing to ask - it may be too late, but then again maybe not. Idk which university we're talking about here, but they are usually really helpful with this kind of thing.

If it is too late, an alternative strategy could be to request a deferral, take a gap year and then give them plenty of notice so that when they come to balloting accommodation you'll be given en suite as a priority. If it is really out of your budget, and you can explain and prove this, then you may find that they give you a fee reduction. Most universities have a commitment to ensuring that disabilities and diagnosed conditions aren't a barrier to entry. And the gap year could be a great opportunity to get a job and have a year's worth of employment on your CV, which will make you much more employable after graduation.

If you're not keen on that and just want to get on with university, but they can't find you an en suite room, I think you could come up with various strategies to help you cope. For example, you could always have a pack of disinfectant wipes with you - when you go into the bathroom, just give all the surfaces you'll be touching a clean and then bin the wipe. Keep all your kitchen stuff, glasses, mugs etc, in your room. Your room may have a sink in it (and again you could check this in advance with the accommodation service), so you could really minimise your contact with the kitchen by using that sink as much as possible - buy a water filter so you can drink the water from the tap, do your washing up in it too, etc. Little things like that just reduce the number of times you have to come into contact with the communal areas.

Also as far as the social stuff goes, even if you don't do anything social in your first year but just spend it acclimatising to managing your fears in a new environment, that'll be ok. The people in your accommodation are not the only ones you'll ever meet - there will be just as many opportunities to make new friends and be sociable in your second and third years, and you will find any number of different societies to match your interests, including some that may be specifically for people with ASD. So you don't need to worry about having one shot to make friends - there will be lots!
(edited 9 months ago)

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