University on-campus experience – 10 tips from someone who should know better, but doesn’t

If you’re toying with the idea of moving away to university – I say go for it! Going away to uni was honestly one of the best things I’ve ever done. The friends I made there are some of my dearest and events from that time still get laughed about. Savour every minute, as before you know it you’ll be old and rusted like me and wonder how you ever managed to party 4 nights straight and still make those 9am lectures. Here are some tips on making the most of it from a not-so-spring-chicken…

  1. Get amongst it: in every way possible. From orientation week, dorm activities and university clubs. O-Week is the time to put yourself out there as everyone is trying to make friends. Attend as many events as you can and be open to meeting people at every opportunity. Get involved in clubs/sport/newspaper/music whatever you’re into. You can meet cool people from across the campus and if it’s semi-related to the field you want to get into it can be a useful talking point when you’re trying to land your first job. Embrace the dress-up nights at the uni bar as they are the best fun when you go all out – all while keeping the local Vinnies store in business. And dorm outings/sports/Olympics/pub crawls are a must.
  2. Stay there on weekends. Depending on how close the campus is to home you may be tempted to head home on the weekends, but I’d advise sticking it out for most of the first semester at least.  It’s a good way to get to know the people in your dorm and those you don’t have classes with. If you go home each weekend you may find it harder to settle in and wish you were back home. Try to live in the moment on campus and enjoy the experience and you can still head home for the important things. Remember: your home town/city will always be there to go out in and explore but your time at uni on campus is precious. Mine went way too quickly.
  3. Be yourself. One of the best things about heading to university is that it’s a chance to really be yourself. Whatever you may/may not have been pigeonholed at high school doesn’t matter – you can start fresh with a new bunch of people who have no preconceived ideas about you and let your best self shine. Don’t try to be something that you’re not though… they will know you’re lying about starring in that Old El Passo commercial.
  4. Apply for scholarships: our uni had heaps that covered a range of areas. It’s worth investigating whether you’re eligible for any and you may as well apply.
  5. Be aware of $2 drink night. I am definitely showing my age here but the $2 drink nights are lethal and will result in blackouts and pain the next day – be wary.hanging-around-drunk
  6. Binge drinking regrets: Loser Syndrome is the worst and I am the first to admit I have had many regrettable drunken moments. If this happens, try not to beat yourself up about it. Surround yourself with good friends and some nachos and be comforted in the fact that many others were so drunk they can’t remember how they got home, let alone seeing you faceplant into the Library Lawn. Maybe just lay low while your black eye recovers.
  7. Don’t shit where you eat: and by this I mean don’t drunkenly pash people in your dorm. Your dorm pretty much becomes your family so you want to be able to hang out in the common room without the awkward tension of having pashed your dorm-brother the night before. Then again I met my uni boyfriend in my first year dorm so what the hell would I know!
  8. Make friends with the students on exchange: Then you can visit them (and stay on their couch) when you travel the world!
  9. Go easy on the wedges: your lifestyle, diet and exercise habits will shift dramatically so it’s a no-brainer that you may stack on a few kgs. Transitioning from nutritious home cooked meals to a diet of chicken pie, schnitty and various things that look like Chum at the Dining Hall will take its toll. But try not to stress about it as everyone puffs out a bit… so at least you’ll be in proportion with your peers. And by second year you’ll know that it’s not an “all you can eat buffet” and that “stockpiling for the weekend” on Friday’s isn’t the best plan. And maybe do without the side of wedges with every meal…
  10. Embrace the poorness. It’s the one time in your life that being penniless is endearing to others – expected, even. And most of the people you’re hanging out with will have a similar budget so it can be fun. Somehow you’ll always manage to scrape together enough coins for a cheese and tomato sauce toastie or a packet of Mi Goreng to tide you over the weekend until Dining Hall reopens. After a weekend at home with my parents I would shamelessly stuff my bags with toothpaste, shampoo, biscuits and toilet paper (the fancy kind) before heading back to squalor. They used to find this cute, but for some reason when I do it now it annoys them.

Good luck to any of you who are off to university soon… there is a part of me that wishes I could do it all over again, and then I think twice as I remember the Goon Sunrise hangovers. 

Any advice you’d like to share?

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