The first year of anyone’s university career can be wrought with nerves, excitement, stress and fun.
Depending on your workload and degree, your approach to tertiary studies will obviously be different to others around you.
If you’re making the move to a bigger city or interstate campus (like I did), things might seem more daunting but have no fear, some of the best times are still ahead and on the near horizon.
Here’s some small tips that can anchor you through some of the hardest times of first year and set you up for the rest of your time strapped to the books.
Routine is important
This might seem like a boring, adult point to mention but seriously, the last thing you want is to get halfway through your first year and not remember where that last semester went.
If you’re new to the city as well as the campus, familiarising yourself with the immediate area you’re frequenting can calm nerves and makes the day to day easier.
Whether it’s something as small as finding your ‘regular’ coffee spot or landing that sweet lunch hook up, maintaining a routine, even semi-regular, will go miles in keeping your head right.
Don’t let the books taunt you
As any uni student past their first year is likely to tell you, save your money and read your book lists carefully.
I came away from my uni bookstore with piles on piles of books during O Week purely because I thought I needed every single edition of a Shakespeare study companion. Hundreds of dollars in the hole, I wound up only using maybe 5 of the 20 books by the end of that semester.
In short: your library is your friend, as are book sales and student resale offers. Stick to the Required Texts (larger textbooks are obviously worth the money) but wherever else possible – borrow, borrow, borrow those books. Save your time and cash for rent (or the uni bar).
Treat your Uni bar as a sanctuary, not a second home
Again, you’re probably thinking I’m a boring sad sack but man, the Uni Bar is not where you want to be day in day out for one and a half (if that) semesters.
There’s a perception that your first year is a coasting year; students are still establishing a new social network, figuring out what they want, where they want to go. It’s for kicking back and partying, leaving the rest for second year.
Second year can come like a slap in the face though – things get real very quick and you’re left thinking, ‘Well, shit’. The Uni Bar should be for cheap chicken parmis, cheap jugs of beer after hard days out – it’s not there to help you through a 3000-word assignment.
Make sure your brain is cared for
A big one. Sometimes the pressure of moving cities for study can get really intense. Succumbing to it can really mess with your successes during first year, so making sure you keep healthy and taken care of is a huge priority.
If you’re into fitness, work in some morning gym sessions or yoga in the afternoons. Ensure there’s at least an hour in your day where you can switch off and rest; this could mean reading some trash online or turning off your computer completely in favour of a nap.
You gotta treat yourself to keep your mind right sometimes and with the stresses that can come with your first year of study, this is all too important.
Freaking out is normal
Full disclosure: I switched degrees halfway through my first year, and it was the best thing I could have done in hindsight. Still, I freaked out over it for some time. Was it the right decision? What would my parents think? Was I selling out?
You’re allowed to freak out though, this is the thing nobody really told me.
University is made to be an environment where students can find their niche and a study area they’re comfortable in. Nobody can tell you what direction to go in and often, there will be networks fully established to help you get where you need to be.