Advice for first years…

By Aidan Curtis.

I just want to start by saying that everyone is bound to have a different first week and this probably won’t even be relevant for most of you. In fact, I’m likely to be the least-qualified person to write this because I barely even remember my first week at uni [four years ago], but here we go.

Odds are you’ll have met one or two people that seem ok during the orientation and campus days. I’d love to tell you that those people are going to be your best friends for the rest of uni, but there’s no guarantee of that. You may end up never seeing them again until you’re at The Woolshed sometime in third-year and they appear out of nowhere on the dance floor, prompting a tearful, drunken reunion even though you’ve seen them literally twice in your life. Conversely, one of those people may actually end up being your best mate, and you’ll be up together until the early hours of the morning laughing too hard at corn-related memes that make no sense.

Essentially, your university life will end up in different places and that’s just how it is. Don’t expect it to be like high school and don’t panic if you don’t get top marks in your very first assignment. Uni is a whole new environment, but if you let it, it will be the best experience of your life. However, there are a number of constants that we’ve all had to go through.

Sometime this week, you’re likely going to be put through a lecture at some stupid hour (any time before noon) and you will feel obliged to go. It’s the first week, after all, and you’re not a responsible uni student who will take notes and get a HD. I won’t tell you to just skip it, but make sure you load up on coffee. You’ll be addicted to it sooner or later, so may as well start early.

Every single tutorial in the opening week is going to start with some sort of introductory exercise. You better have a good speech prepared with your name, age, degree and a fun fact about yourself. There will also be an exercise that forces you to introduce the unlucky sop next to you to the rest of group. It is tedious and awkward but it really does help. Just be yourself. You’ll probably only remember three names and that’s it. Just roll with it. It’s going to happen in the first week of every semester for the rest of your university life. Don’t complain; just power through it and have another coffee.

Something you’ll definitely have to remember, though, is that you’re not going to understand absolutely everything. You’ll get confused by something, or forget something, and that is completely ok. The first week is a massive info-dump and can be hard to get your head around. Recognise if you’re feeling overwhelmed and take a breather. There’s a good chance the person sitting next to you is feeling the same way, so talk to each other.

You won’t have a whole lot of homework to complete in the first week but please don’t get too comfortable. In three or four weeks time, you will have to start handing in assignments and your readings will begin to pile up. We all procrastinate, but keep on top of it as best you can. You will thank me later.

Take note of your tutor’s e-mail address because you will need to clarify something eventually. Don’t be afraid to ask your tutors for help – it’s what they’re there for. Surprisingly, they don’t actually want this week to be the scariest time of your life.

University is going to have its ups and downs. It’s a part of life and you will get through it. You’ll make lifelong friends, and there will be more than a few in-jokes. Do what works for you in the first week, and be adaptable in the weeks to come.

My advice to you is to know your timetable and work out a balance between study and procrastination. Stay fed, hydrated, and make some great friends!

Good luck with your degree, and welcome to UniSA.



Image Source: Ashleigh Piles

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