This time last year I was facing my first day at uni. Contrary to my naïve beliefs that I was destined to ace it, my first day really wasn’t the best experience of my life. Maybe it was because I hadn’t woken up before 9am since my final high school exam. Or maybe it was because I’d spent the last three months in pyjamas. Whatever the reason, I made a few mistakes and I headed home at the end of the day feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. But there’s still hope for you! Learn from my mistakes and make sure your first day doesn’t turn into the shit storm mine was.
DON’T: Forget to top up your travel card
I realised the hard way that my travel card balance was in the negative when I rocked up to the station on the first day of uni. There’s nothing worse than trying to top up when you can see the train approaching the platform. The nerves will get to you and the fucking machine will never process your card quick enough for you to make your ride; just top up the night before.
DO: Look at a campus map before your first class
Or download a campus map on your phone. Or do a campus tour before you start. Or Google Maps your campus and suss out the buildings. Basically, do anything other than rely on your non-existent-memory or signs to find your classes on the first day. On day one at uni, not only was I surrounded by buildings that followed no clear or reasonable alphabetical or numerical order, I also couldn’t figure out where I was, let alone where I needed to be. I spent 20 minutes walking around, wondering if I’d managed to walk myself into the next suburb and if I could just ditch the whole uni dream.
DON’T: Think your tutors will give you hand outs
In high school, teachers handed out printed worksheets regardless of how many people let a crumpled heap of papers rot away in the bottom of their bag. Uni is not like this. Surprise, surprise, all the people who told you uni was based on an independent learning model were telling the truth. Readings, assignment briefs and lecture slides will be available to you, but it’s up to you to source and print/download them for yourself. A lot of what you need for your first day, and the rest of the semester, will be online, so take the time to sift through your student learning portal and email before your first class.
DO: Bring something to write shit down
With the academic goods not being physically handed to you, it’s important to bring something to write everything down. A laptop, tablet or pens/paper–bring whatever works for you. This is probably going to be the one and only time your tutors tell you dates for upcoming assignments, office hours and info about getting through their class. Get on top of it and write it all down so that when you’re madly typing up an assignment the night before it’s due, you don’t need to waste time searching up what the minimum word limit is or what referencing style is preferred.
DON’T: Forget your headphones
This is probably the most important tip for your entire uni life. There is literally nothing worse than tearing apart your bag looking for your headphones only to get a sinking feeling in your stomach when you realise you left them at home. Don’t subject yourself to listening to someone whose phone volume is up so loud you can hear both sides of the conversation or the group of kids who won’t stop their high pitched screaming on the train home.