Everything you need to know about your first day of uni

February 26, 2016
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Naturally, the thought of your first day of university can make your heart race and your stomach churn with all the pressure to transition into a new phase of your life.  Although your head is probably overflowing with advice from friends and family, there’s never a clear-cut formula for having a foolproof first day. Perhaps you’ll get to your first lecture late, or accidentally call your tutor “Mum”, but every experience will be unique and memorable.

Navigating

It’s a given that you’ll be a bundle of nerves navigating your first day away from your familiar schoolyard. However, you can avoid being completely lost by joining a complimentary tour or even downloading a campus app. Lost On Campus is free of charge from your choice app market, and will be your GPS to the nearest microwave, bar, bathroom, quiet study area, and even secret location. Even then, give yourself plenty of time before class to find the room just in case.

Your student email will be your lifeline throughout the day, so don’t forget to check it for important faculty information and, most importantly, last-minute room changes. Often there will be updates on the happenings of the day, as well as endearing welcome messages from lecturers, so make sure to turn on the push notifications.

Surviving lectures

Next thing you know, your lecturer will begin to, well, lecture. Choosing to type notes on a laptop or to handwrite is based on personal preference, but on the first day, your best bet is a pen and notebook. You’ll be bombarded with mostly housekeeping, including contacts, faculty offices and tutors.

Surviving six hours a day of education for the last few years can make you feel pretty confident of handling a petty four to five hours a day, but you’d be surprised by how quickly an innocent two-hour lecture can affect you physically, if not emotionally. Consider bringing snacks before you start gnawing on your neighbour’s ear to combat the hunger pangs.

Your university offers an exciting range of opportunities like overseas exchange, extra credit and honours programs, so don’t be afraid to ask questions during the first lecture. Alternatively, once the lecture’s over, you can introduce yourself to the lecturer and ask in private.

If your timetable is less than generous with late starts and back-to-back classes, you’ll need to wear comfortable shoes that’ll last the day - not only to trek across campus, but also to snag that coveted power point.

Making friends

Walking into your first lecture, you’ll probably be hit with the fear of choosing where to sit. Although you may feel like you’re stuck in the third instalment of Mean Girls, whereby your initial seating preferences define your social capacity, think otherwise. Simply aim to sit next to someone new and start a conversation. Chances are they’re just as nervous as you, and will really appreciate the friendly gesture.

Tutorials, on the other hand, don’t lend themselves as well to covert conversations, so to avoid being chastised by your twenty-something-year-old tutor, get to your tutorials 15 minutes earlier to mingle with your fellow students before class. 

Many societies will have social gatherings for their newest recruits, often over a free feed in the first few days. Take the opportunity to attend the events that you’re interested in and meet other likeminded students. 

Michelle Dang

Michelle is studying LLB/BA (media and communication) at the University of Sydney and hopes moving out before 30 will be a reality.

Image: Loren Kerns, Flickr Creative Commons license

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