5 Ways to Survive Your First Year of Uni

Rebka Bayou

If my life was the song ‘Monster’ by Kanye West, 2014 would’ve been Jay Z’s verse. In other words, my first year at university was a pretty shitty part of my otherwise almost perfect life.

A lot of that had to do with me not being able to adapt to the uni lifestyle properly. I was having trouble making friends; I went from being the classroom’s biggest personality to a tiny, insignificant speck in the gargantuan world that is University. And then, of course, there were the assignments.

People fed me so much shit about what university was going to be like:

“It’s so social, you’ll have the time of your life,” — versus — “Everyone’s stuck up, don’t bother.”

And also:

“There’s no point going to lectures,” — versus — “Make sure to do all your readings!”

All the advice I got was confusing, conflicting and, above all, useless. So I came up with five practical and realistic tips to help new uni students make sure their first year is nothing like Jay Z’s verse, and everything like Nicki Minaj’s.

  1. Get a diary.

You might have been made to use one in high school, and if you did you probably hated it, but you need it now. Uni life is hectic to say the least and you need to have your commitments and daily errands written down. I didn’t have one last year and I was forever forgetting things. Trust me, you do not want to realise you’ve got a major essay due at 9 a.m. the next day on a Monday evening.

  1. Learn how to make small talk

It’s the first week of uni, everyone is new, and nobody knows anyone. We’re not about to spill our hearts out to each other. “What course are you doing?” “This weather sucks, right?” and “Do you have to travel far to get here?” These will be your conversional crutches in your first few weeks of tertiary education. Embrace the shallow conversation — you’ll be better off for it.

  1. Resist the temptation to not care

The apathetic uni student is extremely common. You can find them at your nearest tertiary institution with a Boost juice in one hand, bragging to their friend about how they finished a 3000 word essay in four hours flat (to an appalling standard of course), or sauntering to a tutorial that started 15 minutes ago. Beware. They too were once eager and wide eyed, but apathy sucked them in. And to be honest, who can blame them? At uni there’s little pressure on you from tutors, ridiculous amounts of spare time, and amazingly fast (and free!) wifi. But resist little grasshopper, resist! Caring about your education and putting in work will pay off. Go to classes. Don’t aim to just pass; blitz your assignments and exams. Your future self will thank you for it.

  1. Get used to enjoying your own company

This is something I struggled a lot with. I’d always considered myself someone who preferred being alone, but I had never really been properly alone. At school, even if separated from friends, I would be surrounded by peers I’d known for years. Uni was the complete opposite. Suddenly everyone is doing their own thing, living separate lives, and nobody really cares how your weekend was. And that’s fine! It just takes some getting used to. You’ll have breaks in between classes that can go for hours. Make the most of that alone time; read a book, catch up on uni work, or be like me: take advantage of the free wifi by watching all your favourite sitcoms. You’ll learn to like yourself more and it’ll make you a more independent person, which is never a bad thing.

  1. Be punctual

Having a whole auditorium turn to look at you when you walk in 15 minutes late is not cute. ‘Nuff said.