If you imagine what university life will entail, you’ll probably picture sleepless nights of ruffling through the pages of your textbook, struggling to write 1,000-word essays and pretending to understand an impossible syllabus.
But what if we told you that some of the most important lessons in university happen outside the classroom?
Here are 9 non-academic lessons no first-year student should survive without during their first week on campus. Let’s go!
#1. Orientation week is important
Believe it or not, one of the most important weeks of your academic year is the week before the semester even begins. That’s right — we’re talking about orientation week.
Often considered “for geeks only”, orientation week is, in fact, a great way to familiarise yourself with your campus grounds, which you’ll be thanking yourself later when you’re rushing to class the week after.
It’s also the perfect way to network with seniors for secondhand textbooks and get tips about the courses you’ll be taking, in addition to getting to know other freshies and building your circle of friends.
#2. Where to get your grub on
Arguably, the most important information you’ll receive in week 1.
Gone are the days of being limited to the same old canteen food at every lunch break. Depending on your campus, you may find yourself with a plethora of options to choose from, which leads to a new problem — where should you go for food?
But fear not! Your seniors can give you the lowdown on the best noms around your campus. You’ll want to take note of what’s cheap for your daily meals, what’s easy as a quick snack in between classes and what’s good for your weekend splurge. This will not only help you stay on budget but avoid those subtle “I need more money” texts to mum and dad.
#3. It pays to hunt down the best wifi hubs early
The best wifi spot in campus is the holy grail of all university students, especially come assignment season or the release of a new season of Game of Thrones.
Although it’s likely that your entire campus is fitted with wifi, there are bound to be key areas with the strongest wifi for all your
streaming research needs, be it the library, study rooms or computer labs.
So, scout these hot spots early in your semester to avoid the painful process of downloading your notes, viewing online course materials or googling research papers over a poor bandwidth at crunch time.
#4. Never underestimate the battle for parking spots
If you’ll be driving to university, your first order of business is to find the best parking spots on or near campus within your first week of university.
It’s useful to know how early you have to come every day to grab the convenient ones. After all, you don’t want to make a habit out of wrestling for a parking spot with another uni mate daily and head to class late.
#5. Student housing will test your patience
Firstly, moving in with strangers who may potentially clash personalities with you can be incredibly intimidating, but don’t be fooled into believing that all housemates are difficult! Everyone is different but you will survive and thrive as long as you communicate tactfully and practice the art of give and take.
Next — household chores. No matter what your inner voice tells you, you’ll have to do laundry at some point. This goes for cleaning the bathroom, washing your dishes and other menial work you’ve been casually leaving for mum to do at home.
If you don’t know where to start, don’t be afraid to ask your friends to help you out, or just drop your mum a text! A healthy living environment is essential to improve your study productivity and coming home to a spotless room and a tidy bed after a long day of class will be a treat.
#6. Friends are everything
Having a mate you can rely on from week 1 of university can be super helpful. You’ll likely need help figuring out administrative matters, navigating a larger-than-life campus or for some company during a meal.
As the weeks go on, you might find that the homies you made in the first week have drifted apart from you. But don’t despair! This is normal as both you and your friends are bound to have a wider circle of friends as you progress through the semester.
#7. Sleep will be a thing of the past
In addition to the endless tests and exams you’ll be burning the midnight oil for, late night mamak sessions and post-midnight McDonald’s runs are going to be a staple throughout your degree life.
As they say in university, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
Although the adrenaline from your newfound freedom is enough to keep you awake for 3 days straight, it’s important to get enough sleep and avoid pulling all-nighters as there are many negative emotional and physical consequences to your health. The first few weeks of university are the perfect time to get some shut-eye before your tutorials and assignments begin to pile up, turning your “zen” nights into hectic ones.
So get your recommended hours of sleep. After all, you don’t want to burn out in your first year of university!
#8. Home is where the heart is
For many people, going to university means leaving home for the first time, so it’s natural to miss your family, friends and the comforts of home.
To avoid homesickness, try to make yourself feel at home while on campus. You can do this by finding comfy spots of solitude for you to study, read or watch TV series in between classes. Alternatively, push yourself to mix and mingle with your coursemates. Having a squad you can turn to when you’re feeling down is essential to your general well-being while at university.
Most importantly, keep in touch with your friends and family from back home. Remember, they’re only a phone call away!
#9. Living on campus can be awesome
One of the coolest parts about living on or around campus grounds is being only minutes away from class. That means going from bed to bench in less than 30 minutes!
You’ll find that the campus surroundings are always buzzing with excitement, even late into the night. Being so close to the action also means more opportunities for you to get involved in campus events, clubs and societies that can massively boost your CV and amp up your degree days.
While living on your own comes with its challenges, you’ll soon realise that you wouldn’t have it any other way. Making your own decisions and constantly being surrounded by your best friends? Heck yeah!
It may be tough to process everything in one week, but rest assured you’ll soon ease into it. There’s no denying that university life is a drastic change from your secondary school days, but you won’t be going through it alone. University can be an incredibly rewarding experience so enjoy yourself and soak it all in!