As your university experience approaches (after those damned final exams), you’re in for a turbulent, exciting time. A new, unfamiliar stage of life is about to start–particularly for those who move a long way from home to start it, which stacks of young Aussies do each year. Some move from rural areas to the big smoke to study on campus, while others want to try a different town or city for the change of scenery. Others move away from their hood because a faraway uni has a good reputation, or offers a subject they’re interested in.

Whatever the reason you might be shifting camp to study, you’re probably expecting it to kick off a pretty cool lifestyle. Documentaries like Van Wilder and Old School had you pumped about campus life well before you decided what course to apply for. They taught you to expect a life of babes, beers, sleep-ins and toga parties. And you’re particularly excited that you’ll be unleashed into a new corner of the country to experience all this–probably a vibrant big city that dwarfs your hometown for scale and bustle.

However, it’s a massive mouthful to bite off when you think about it. You’re leaving behind the life you’ve known to this point. There’s a lecture theatre-sized load of stuff to wrap your head around because you’re the one in charge of everything now–from your own daily itinerary to your own destiny.

1. New living arrangements

You’ll have to wash your own clothes, and work out this whole ‘budgeting’ thing. You’ll have to organise your own transport too, and make sure your rent and phone bills are paid. And you’ll need to keep on track with study, work out how to use an oven, and find a continual source of funds to keep yourself alive. It’s a lot more to have to remember than where the bus stop is, or what day to wear your sports uniform.

2. Study struggles

There’s also the study side of things to deal with, and that can be tough. The subjects you’ll be studying will be a big step up from mucking around with Bunsen burners or skim-reading John Marsden novels. Your familiar, old teachers won’t be around anymore either; yeah, you might be glad to see the back of some of them, but at least you knew what to expect and had a rapport with them all, as bossy or lame-at-joke-making as they might have been. Now you’ll be submitting work to super-smart, no-nonsense Professors–the sort of folks who get interviewed in front of bookcases on TV, and that have multiple publications to their name. You won’t get away with the old ‘skim read, then wing it’ approach to learning with these people.

 3. Campus confusion

You also have a massive, maze-like campus to navigate, you won’t know anyone, the work will be harder and everything about your days will be new and different. There’s a lot to get your head around. It’s hardly surprising if you feel a bit nervous or apprehensive about it all.

However, this ride you’re about to go tearing around on will be a contender for the most exhilarating one you’ll ever take. Okay, the Tower of Terror and the Vomitron go alright, but it’s emotional roller coaster-type rides I’m talking about here, and out of those, this is one of the best. It might not seem like it when you’re necking jugs of caffeine to get you through pre-exam study nights, but rest assured your uni days are going to be awesome.

It’s a time of your life when you’ll be independent and self-sufficient, but not stuck in the 9-5 with a mortgage lifestyle just yet. You’ll burst into a better social life than you’ve ever had, with pubs, clubs, eating out and concert-going featuring heavily in your days. You’ll be learning stuff you’re actually interested in, and you’ll be taught it by experts in the field.

You’ll have a great opportunity to become an expert yourself, and equipped to make a real difference to society in applying that expertise.

Uni gives you a shot at a degree, but so many other opportunities besides that: you can meet students from around the world, play any sport you’ve ever thought of, join random societies, cut a rug at the uni’s own bar, access the formidable resources the institution will have, learn as much as you like about what interests you, write for your campus rag or have a dig at acting in its drama society. Most of all, you will make fields of interesting and crazy new friends.

You’ve got a lot to look forward to. And even if you’re down about leaving family, friends and familiar haunts behind, just remember in this age of Facebook and WhatsApp and cheap travel, home is always close no matter how far away you are. If it helps, just think of yourself not as having left your old life behind, but as having begun a mission to add new friends, knowledge and experiences to your life. If you’re nervous about moving away from your familiar world to start uni life, you should be, because you’re in for a wilder ride than school ever was. And for the most part, you’re going to love it.