The ultimate guide to surviving the first year of university


Transitioning from high school to university can be tough – what with the new environment and all the unfamiliar faces. And what makes it even harder is the fact that the first year registration form does not come equipped with a survival manual, Bear Grylls style. So, after much deliberation, we’ve decided to bring to all of you prospective and current first year students the Ultimate Survival Guide to help you navigate your way through all the challenges that university can bring.

Tip 1: Lecture Etiquette

University is not like high school. Therefore, your lecturers, unlike your old teachers, do not need to be informed about your movements. And by this I mean that when nature calls, do not do what a friend of mine did and raise your hand in a three hundred people lecture just to ask the lecturer whether or not you can go to the toilet. But of course, this is a wonderful way to get your lecturer to remember who you are amongst the crowd of students, albeit perhaps for the wrong reasons.

Tip 2: Find That Crush

Imagine you are strolling down the main walkway when, out of the corner of your eye, you spy some incredibly cute girl/guy but alas! Before you manage to approach them to profess your love, they disappear into the crowd of university students, never to be seen again…

Whilst once upon a time, many a lovesick student may have done a Romeo, thanks to Mark Zuckerberg’s wonderful creation, aka Facebook, that is a thing of the past. Nowadays, you have a good chance of once again being reunited with your Juliet. All you have to do is search ‘USYD Love Letters’, send an appreciative (but not creepy) post and before you know it, one of his/her friends will have tagged them in the comment section. Problem solved.

Tip 3: Know What’s Happening

Unlike high school, at university there are no teachers there to remind you that you have an upcoming assignment. Instead, it is all up to you to keep track on when the assessments are due. So, you do not want to be like someone I know who, during mid-semester break, decided that they would be ‘pro-active’ and check when exams were. Only to realise that they had all already passed.

Which leads me on to tip number four…

Tip 4: Befriend Some Excellent People

And by excellent people I mean friends who will help you keep up to date with everything that is going on; from assignments (to minimise any forgetfulness of assessments) to parties and finally, to where to get free food on campus.

Tip 5: Attend Career Fairs

Firstly, because attending career fairs is a wonderful way to assess what pathway you want to follow in your degree and to also find out what courses you need to take to get to your dream job. And secondly, but also and perhaps more importantly, fairs are a wonderful place to collect freebies. Ranging from water bottles to power banks to umbrellas and even to shark tea strainers, they really do have it all.

Tip 6: Avoid Campaigners

At some point in the year, the university will suddenly be swarming with overly excitable students in brightly coloured shirts adorned with some kind of catchy tagline. That, my friends, is when you know that unfortunately, election time has come around again. And I assure you that no matter where you go or where you turn, the campaigners will find you. But, if you follow three simple rules, you should be able to get through this period unscathed (or at least relatively unscathed).

Firstly and most importantly, never make eye contact. Secondly, pretending to be on the phone by either texting or calling ‘someone’ is usually quite a good strategy. And finally, if they start to approach you, yelling out that you are “running late for a test” or “running late for the bus” is quite effective.

And there you have it! Hopefully these six tips will help you navigate your way through your first year of university and remember that if you are ever in doubt, just channel your inner Bear Grylls and you will always come out on top.


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