Seven ways to survive your first day of uni

February 09, 2016
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For many students, the first day of uni is not unlike taking the first steps of a quest. You know it’s going to be hard. And – if Tolkien is writing it – long. There may be times you’d rather just let the dragon eat the damsel, circle of life and all that. But, uni can be magical too. And the same survival rules from all your favourite fantasy worlds will apply.

Sword and stationary

At the start of any great quest, one likes to be prepared. Bilbo left his handkerchief behind at the start of The Hobbit and look how that turned out. Having the essentials sorted from day one will give you less to worry about and stop you resorting to pen theft. And, while having that sexy leather-bound notebook won’t guarantee you pass Introduction to Philosophy, we both know it still matters. So, I hereby give you license to plunder Officeworks of all its worldly file dividers, to pillage the very last of its four-pens. Your haul will help remind you that you’re a serious uni student now.

One does not simply walk into their first class

Invest in a map. Never lose it, let the bastards pry it from your cold, dead fingers; you’re finding the David Windbag Top Secret Lecture Theatre with the Unplottable Charm on it if it’s the last thing you do. Failing that, download the nifty app Lost on Campus. Just tap in the name of the room you’re after and it’ll give you a map, student reviews of the facility and a compass to help your navigations.

Nine companions

Or thereabouts. Choose them wisely. Think Samwise, the kid who will follow you blindly into every themed bar night, not Boromir, the guy who steals your study guide of power and then dies tragically at the end of semester because even at uni he’s played by Sean Bean.

Just remember that in the wake of all the free food and high fives flying around during O-Week its normal for you to feel slightly isolated on your first day. There are so many faces in the lecture theatre, so many people rushing past that you rarely find the same person twice. Don’t panic. Tutorials are an easy place to strike up a conversation. Before you know it, you’ll be forging your very own three-way Aragorn-Legolas-Gimli bromance with the guys who share your back corner.

Thou shalt abide deadlines

And, unfortunately, even if you’re a medieval knight in a low budget mini-series, they are much harder to slay than a dragon. While it’s tempting to skip your first class in favour of the bar, jotting down important dates early will help you plan your semester. Grab one of the free diaries floating around campus and listen out for tutor email addresses as well. Just in case all this hard questing makes you thirsty and you really do head to the bar on quiz day, you’ll know how to get in touch.

Put your trust in wizards

Not the kids who hold Sorting Ceremonies in the back corner of the library, mind you.

At uni, the real wizards are your lecturers.
In the philosophy department they will be easily identifiable by their beards, but elsewhere seek out the advice and feedback of your tutors. After all, like all wise mentors, they’re there to guide you on your journey. (And have epic showdowns with the occasional Balrog.)

Beware of trolls

Stalkerspace can only distract you on your first day. Banish it from your browser! Also, avoid getting sucked into lengthy arguments with other students in your first class, even if they are wrong about the size of Nietzsche’s moustache. You don’t want to be that guy.

When in doubt, always follow your nose

Uni food courts can range from a bustling marketplace of activity to a few shitty cafes tucked between lecture halls so it’s good to sus out the best eateries early. Try a coffee from a different place every day or make friends with the owner of the really good bakery. That’s a fairly easy challenge for your first week, right?

Now go forth brave first years and conquer this strange new land.

Sherryn Groch

Sherryn is studying journalism at RMIT University. She enjoys writing short stories, frolicking in unsecured meadows and sometimes tweets at @Sherryn_G.

Image: Ian Sanderson, Flickr Creative Commons license