How to live, thrive and survive ANU in 13 steps

Just out of high school or just from your gap year? Returning for yet another round of degree-getting fun? Whether you are treading on the hallowed banks of Sullivans Creek for the first time or you are the walking definition of ‘old hat’, here are a few tips and tricks which could conceivably help you.

1. School dux? Captain of the rowing team? President of the SRC? Take a number. Particularly in your first few weeks at university, you will be anonymous and you will not be such a special snowflake.  Whatever achievements you may have accrued at high school are no longer relevant and you’ll have to pretty much start all over again. You can work on your anonymity by being nice to people and introducing yourself. After all, every new student is more or less in the same boat (except for those students who seem to have formed a syndicate with their high school friends). Alternatively, you can just boycott the ridiculous ‘friends’ thing and make a name for yourself through doing something ridiculous. You can be ‘that guy who always says his name before talking in tutorials’ or ‘that girl who sits upside-down in Chifley’.

2. If you don’t like who you were last year, the new academic year is a great time to pretend that you are a different person. Either nobody knew you before or nobody has seen you for long enough to notice your complete personality transplant.

3. If you’ve just moved out of home and you don’t currently live in a catered hall (or even if you do), you should know that it is in fact possible to be fully nourished by free food distributed throughout O-week by various clubs and societies, ANUSA, ANU itself or ANU’s almighty corporate sponsors. So, if you need, you can delay achieving independence by at least a week!

4. They say ‘Sleep, Study, Socialise: pick two.’ However, in fact, you do actually have time to do all three quite badly. Essentially, you get to choose between mediocrity at life in general or spectacular failure in one part of your life. It’s probably better to decide which option you would like to pursue early on and just commit to it.

5. You should know about the time paradox that university entails. See, if you have a nine o’clock class, you will be able to wake up on time for it and go, but you’ll be really tired. If your class moves to ten o’clock, you will be no less tired when you go to it, but you will have lost an extra hour of your day sleeping. Nobody knows why this happens.

6. If you’re low on funds but have a lot of time, “volunteer” to do a study with the ANU school of Psychology. They give you cash for participation and sometimes participation only involves filling out an online survey or something. For donating your mind and body to academic research in a more lucrative (but far rarer) way, look out for studies with the school of Business, Commerce and Economics.

7. Are you a townie? Don’t be afraid of friending ressies. The ANU campus is pretty much their back yard (unless they live at Fenner Hall) and as such, are more inclined to try to run the place. If you’re ressie, friend a townie, they have awesome house parties. And they might have a room to open up for you when you realise that you no longer want to share a toilet with 20 people.

8. Find your ideal place to study and protect it with your life. Get to the place at 8am in the morning and don’t leave until well into the night. Complain loudly when someone takes it. Facebook does not count.

9. You’ll probably find the whole passing subjects process much easier if you do actually attend class. I know it’s hard and the suggestion sounds a little bit insane, but it’s true. Note that it’s okay to go to a lecture and sleep right through it because you learn on a subconscious level. Just remember that in order to tap into your subconscious on your exam day, you will need to be asleep.

10. Get a diary and write all the due dates for the assignments in there. That way, it’ll be easy to calculate how many days late your assignment is and as such you should get an accurate idea of whether or not it is still possible to pass.

11. Join some kind of club. It’s good for your CV. And you need one of those if getting out of here is ever going to be feasible.

12. For those of you coming back, those who use tales of wonderful events of earlier years to excite and entertain the ‘newbies’, you have probably resolved that this year will be the year that you “put your head down”, and get your assignments finished “on time”.  This is good. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, and in this case, joining the elite of high achievers. Everyone else also enjoys watching you lie to yourself, and then failing.

13. If you are feeling scared or homesick, just remember that no matter how well everyone else is pretending that they aren’t, they are feeling exactly the same way. Try your best to ride it out, talk to someone if you need to and keep busy with a good routine. Whether that routine is going to class and studying well, or discovering Canberra’s coffee culture is up to you now. Enjoy that freedom.