From the moment when you announce to your family and friends that you’ve been accepted to a university, the bombardment of advice begins. From Aunty Carol’s time at Monash in the 1980’s when Blondie was the bomb, to the kid a couple of grades above you in high school who dropped out of his Arts degree who has now built a successful weed business. Everyone has their own little gem to pass on about life at university. Most of this advice is pretty standard: start your assignments early, manage your time, don’t party too much. Pretty no-brainer stuff, right? Well, that’s all the advice I got and, sure, it was helpful. Theoretically. It is the kind of advice I contemplated waking up after a night at Wolf, staring at my ceiling. So, there is some stuff that I wish I knew. The things that Aunty Carol and Mum have forgotten. And when I brought this up with others, it turns out there was stuff they wish they had known as well. Which brings us to now, with me writing what is hopefully the most helpful – and definitely the most eclectic – shortlist of first-year advice that you’ll read.
Dress How You Want/Shop Exclusively at the Green Shed
A lot of freshers come in with the belief that they have to dress to the nine’s every single day, particularly if you’re coming from thirteen years of wearing a school uniform as I did. This is not only inaccurate but also impractical. Once you’re trying to get to your 9 am tutorial on Friday morning after a big Thursday night, you realise that trackies and Uggs are not only acceptable but expected. And let’s face it; doing laundry is the worst. It’s expensive, boring, and for those of us from the North Shore, doing your own laundry is probably a foreign concept. Just dress however you feel comfortable, and no one is really going to care. This is the beauty of the ANU; in the space of 20 seconds you can walk past a law student in a onesie and an arts student in a three-piece suit, and no one could care less.
If you have a class in Coombs, ALWAYS do a reconnaissance mission beforehand. This is not a fun suggestion. This is ESSENTIAL. You can never truly understand the utter fear that Coombs strikes in your heart until it’s 15 minutes into your tutorial, and you’re stuck in the same hexagon as you started in 20 minutes ago, staring out into the courtyard from a balcony without having gone up any stairs. This comes from personal experience. Don’t let Coombs win: do your research beforehand. (And maybe text your loved ones goodbye first.)
Grow Your Own Rice Paddy
This one sounds obscure, but is going out to all the first years moving into self-catered accommodation. Cooking for yourself can absolutely suck, and after days of lectures and tutorials, clubs and Coombs, it can be a lot easier to get UBEReats than to whip up a three-course meal. But, even though it seems unlikely, there will come a day where you cannot possibly fathom ANOTHER cheeseburger. I know, I too was shocked to discover this. These are the times you’ll need rice. It’s light, cheap, long-lasting, easy to cook, and you can chuck pretty much anything in there. Even humble tomato sauce. Not that I’ve ever been that lazy. Anyway, rice is a life saver. Keep some in the cupboard and thank me later. There is plenty of damp land around Sully’s Creek, so stake out a patch for yourself to ensure a constant supply of grainy goodness.
Do Not Fear the Fresher Five
Ah yes, the dreaded Fresher Five. For anyone blissfully unaware, the Fresher Five is the name given to the five kilograms that each first-year student supposedly gains in their first year of university. I do feel obligated to say that this is not an inevitable occurrence and not all first-years gain weight. If you do, however, that’s okay! Take it as a sign that you’re having fun! It’s hard trying to keep it all under control and if you happen to put a little bit on in your first year, who really cares? There’s just more of you to love! If you ever do feel the need to get healthy, try out the ANU Lettuce Society, where eating a whole iceberg lettuce in one sitting is a popular pastime.
Don’t Go in With Expectations
When everything is said and done, the best way you can approach university is without any expectations, because no matter what you’re expecting, it’s going to be completely different. The course that you thought was going to be awesome could suck, and your plans to be 100 percent on top of your work from the get-go probably won’t pan out as you expect. Chances are you won’t bump into the love of your life on your first visit to Coffee Grounds, and just because you did incredibly well in high-school, doesn’t mean any of that status will carry over. University is like nothing else, which is equal parts scary and exciting. And that’s all A-Okay. The best way you can prepare for it is to go in with an open mind, no expectations, and see what happens next. You might bump into your future husband on a Macca’s run, on Tinder, or, God forbid, at Moose. Just embrace it!
From a 2017 freshman to the new cohort, good luck. But, please don’t ask me for advice in person next year. It would be so lame to be caught socialising with a first-year…