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Tortoises help students come out of their shells


Student Natalie Sia (19) holds a tortoise at a Tortoise Social event in Birmingham, designed to help students come out of their shells
Natalie Sia (19) at a Tortoise Social event at true Birmingham
  • Starting university can be daunting but freshers across the UK are being welcomed with some unexpected four-legged friends

  • 81 per cent of young people feel anxious about making friends, a survey by all-inclusive student accommodation provider, true student, has revealed but animals can help students bond and feel more relaxed

  • ‘Tortoise socials’ are helping new students break the ice as freshers week gets underway. The events have been taking place in Newcastle, Liverpool, Swansea, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow

  • New data also shows that pets on campuses was the most wished-for addition to UK universities with over a quarter of young people saying they would like to see more pet-friendly universities in the future

Students have been sharing cuddles with tortoises as part of an initiative from the all-inclusive accommodation provider, true student. Designed to help make freshers smile and feel at ease as the new university term gets underway, it is one of the fun and innovative events that aims to combat social anxiety and give students a chance to bond in new ways.

Tortoises snack on dandelion leaves at one of true student's Tortoise Social events, designed to help students come out of their shells
Enthusiastic tortoises snack on dandelion leaves

The event follows new survey data commissioned by true student that has recently uncovered high levels of anxiety among young people, as thousands prepare for college and university life. Gathering insights from 2,000 respondents aged 15-22, the survey delves into the challenges and intricate emotions tied to starting university, adulting, and forging meaningful social connections. It found that a striking 81 per cent of young people are wrestling friendship worries. It also revealed that pets on campus were the most wished-for additions to UK universities, topping the list of amenities and features that students would like university dorms to accommodate.


Natalie Sia (pictured), aged 19, who is studying marketing at Birmingham City University, said: ”The event was both enjoyable and unexpectedly delightful. Despite the rainy weather, it lifted my spirits and brightened my mood. The animals were incredibly endearing and brought smiles to everyone’s faces.”


Elise Clarke is studying Oral and Dental Health Sciences at Newcastle University. She said, "I love interacting with animals, it’s a form of therapy and helps my mental health.”


Zoha Imtiaz, 19, who is studying medicine at the University of Liverpool, said: “The event motivated me to get away from the books, take a breather, and relax in some really, really great company.”


Julia Obergfell is studying Behavioural Science at University of Glasgow, said, “I love tortoises. That event made me very happy. It just made my day.”


The ‘Tortoise Socials’ are not the only animal-themed events hosted by true student. Adventurous students can also try out dog therapy, meet alpacas and even explore a mobile zoo.

true student’s mental consultant and award-winning GP, Dr. Dominique Thompson said, “Young people have been encountering particular mental health challenges in recent years and for many the start of university life can be a big change. Bonding with animals can be a great way to boost serotonin and dopamine (the feel-good hormones!), have fun and play, and switch off from over-thinking or anxiety. Some students also miss their family pet when they go away to university so experiences like this can really make them feel at home”.

To find out more about true student accommodation and facilities visit https://www.truestudent.com/true-life

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