You cut your first tooth, you walked, you crawled, you learnt to drive in a country where taxis rule the roads and you even graduated high school. You can do anything you set your mind to. And yes, that includes conquering your first year of university.
Taking the big step to higher education is scary, especially if you flew the nest and are living on your own for the first time. On the upside, if you're diligent, hard-working and mature, your university years can be the best years of your life! Here are some tips to 'Gandalf the Grey' your way through the first year of varsity.
1. Get to know your surroundings
If you thought navigating your way around your first day of high school was hard, you ain't seen nothing yet! University campuses are generally huge, so it might take a while (+ a bit) to get acquainted. The best plan of action is to start with the main building where most of your classes take place, followed by the library, the campus computer labs, the printing facilities and a café (because coffee is life). Before you know it, you'll be ready to go full Dora and explore the campus! You'll find everything from club houses, gyms and even secret rooftop make-out spots!
2. Take a moment to smell the roses
Your free time is determined by the courses you're taking. You might spend anything from 3 hours to an exhausting 9 hours a day on campus (but hey, that's life). This is where you need to find some balance in your life and tell yourself that sometimes it's okay to see your friends, sleep and relax. As long as you're putting in the work and ticking all your boxes, it's okay to put your sanity first. Your mental, physical and emotional health are just as important as getting that degree.
3. Ask for help
There's nothing wrong with asking for help. I repeat: THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH ASKING FOR HELP! Asking for a little advice on an assignment or even asking someone who has been blessed vertically to get the good cereal from the top shelf at the supermarket for you is perfectly fine! You might need help with anything from getting information on financial aid and learning how to reference, to finding someone to show you around the library. Reach out to your peers, lecturers, tutors, and other support staff – they'll be more than willing to help you (for some, it's their job). If you don't even know where to find these people, your campus student support office is always a great place to start.
4. Maintain those #MoneyGoals
University is a whole new ball game that comes with extra levels, new goals, badder boss's to beat, harder obstacles and far less money at your disposal. This new sense of freedom probably means more socialising and going out, but it also means new expenses such as rent and petrol. This makes budgeting super important. Start by making small changes to your life, such as taking a packed lunch to campus and doing coffee dates instead of full-meal dates (avo toast is super expensive). No, this isn't going to be easy! But, if you set and maintain strict money goals, you'll be just fine. If you don't have a bank account yet, check out the Unlocked.Me Student account. (FYI, some stores even give student discounts if you carry your student card!)
5. Freebies are your best friend
O-week activations and job fairs are your best friend! Not only do they give you the chance to scope out campus clubs, activities and prospective jobs, but they're also the best place to collect some free swag like pens, T-shits, caps, USBs and year planners to get you going! Your buddies down at Unlocked.Me will be at an O-week near you with tons of swag and some other surprises that you don't want to miss out on! Keep your eyes peeled for more deets.
6. Make friends
Whether your lecture is as packed as Melrose Arch on a Saturday night or as dead as Johannesburg during December, making new friends is one of the best and most important parts of starting varsity. Chances are, you'll find your bestie for the restie. You've made it this far; don't be scared to strike up conversation in class or make plans to catch up later. Everyone is in the same boat as you.
7. Drink some water
Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate (with water, if you were unsure).