The first day of uni is fast approaching, and for those freshly graduated school-leavers just starting out, I’m guessing there are a few nerves flying around! There’s no need to panic. Starting anything new is a scary experience, but once you get the hang of it, everything becomes comfortable and easy. University is no different. There will be lots to fret over, but being prepared and having an open-minded attitude will set you up for an enjoyable university experience.
The first day is always the most manic on campus. Day one and the week leading up to exams are probably the only time you will see the entire student body on campus at the one time. So don’t get too spooked by hundreds of hormone filled adolescents all vying to find the best coffee spot on campus, and locate their textbooks for the semester. There’s lots to take in, places to remember and people to mingle with. So I’ll be honest, you may feel a little overwhelmed. But once day one is done and dusted, all those jitters will subside and you can just enjoy the ride.
So what can I expect?
Every university is different, but my first day experience was a rather chaotic one. Everyone is on their own little mission, trying to find the bookshop, navigating their way through a sea of people to their lecture, or just wandering the campus. The key is to be organised, well rested, and arrive early! Be enrolled in all your classes, and know where each class is situated beforeyou rock up to uni (this means attending the orientation week seminars and tours of the campus). Sometimes the lecture halls and tutorial rooms are coded really weirdly and are well hidden, just to confuse us even more. For example one of my rooms was coded -0.65 and logically thinking I expected it to be below room 0.65, but sometimes universities are not build logically, so I ended up on the wrong level in the wrong building, confused and stressed before I even began! My point is, make sure you are aware of your surroundings and get a feel for where all your classes are, so on day one you can get there early and not be a ball of stress for your first class. Usually universities will run campus tours and have information sessions in the week leading up to uni, so be sure to attend some of those.
What should I take?
Have a notebook and pen handy (or if you are really up on technology, an iPad). This may seem like the most obvious piece of advice, but I’ve seen it happen time and time again – students front up to class with nothing but a smart attitude and no writing materials. The first day will be one of the most important to attend because your lecturers and tutors will run through crucial people to contact when you need help, assessment details, and what to expect. So, it’s wise to take all your materials, including course outlines and any textbooks you’ve already purchased. My advice is to try and avoid taking a laptop, because Facebook and online chatting are likely to be a major distraction. It’s best just to have pen and paper ready. Don’t stress about being neat and tidy, just make sure you can decipher your own writing. Just jot the important stuff in shorthand if you can. You will learn tricks and shortcuts along the way, but remember that most of the content your lecturer is saying will be on the lecture notes posted online after class anyway.
If your timetable is a really hectic one, make sure you take water and some snacks to keep you going. Two hour lectures don’t seem long, but they can be quite mentally draining, especially if you’ve already had several other classes that same day.
What’s it really like?
University is as much a learning environment as it is a social one. There’s always lots going on. When you’re not rushing off to a lecture, or busy writing an assignment you have the opportunity to meet new people, and enjoy the social side of university life. There’s such a diverse mix of cultures and interesting people. The best thing is, you can be yourself , and not look out of place.
It’s really important to remember that you are not alone. There’s so many other like-minded people probably feeling the same things as you, so don’t feel get too swept up in your new surroundings. Take the time to introduce yourself to people, and start study groups, because it will make your studies easier and give you a social outlet too. You are bound to find much in common with your new found uni buddies – even if it is just the same favourite pub to hang out at on the weekend! Day one of uni is always a pretty chaotic one, but I assure you it only gets better! Enjoy the journey!