Every new day starts in the same way for a hardened, university veteran.
You’re forced to wake up every morning after little to no sleep, your eyes glued shut as you ready yourself, almost blindly, for another day of hard work and no rest. The dreams you once had of waking up at six in the morning, after eight full hours of sleep, ready to start your day with a proper skincare routine, coffee and yoga have long been shattered.
The moment you set foot on the campus, your bag weighing down on your shoulder and the sun glaring at you for being alive, you begin to mentally analyze everyone on your way to class – the only aspect of your life that you have now come to enjoy.
You see the jocks with their gym bags and their confidence, making you envious with their early morning energy, the Snapchat Squad with their phones out, continuously uploading stories of their exciting life, the geeks with their heated discussions, the shy ones barrelling towards class in full speed, the musicians lounging around and finally, that one group that everyone can identify from five miles apart, like a neon sign blazing, a traffic light or a wailing siren.
If you’re a freshman and can’t understand how your seniors gain this superhuman ability to root you out from among a mixed group then you’ve come to the right place. If you’re about to start university and haven’t yet been subject to this treatment, then this author will give you a little insight based on some vivid experiences on how to survive university life with as little drama as possible.
The number one rule of acing your first day of university is to memorize your schedule. Visit the campus before you start and explore the different buildings if you can, just so you know exactly where your classes will take place. Nothing says freshman like a lost student with their phone in hand, trying to find their classes with a panicked look on their face. It’s completely okay to ask others for help and most of the time, people will actually walk you to class just to ensure you don’t lose your way again. However, if you have social anxiety and don’t want to interact with anyone then this is the best thing to do under the circumstances.
The second unspoken rule of university life is this – you don’t have to dress up for university every single day. It’s completely okay to not dress to the nines for an 8 AM class. No one in university expects you to show up, decked in finery, updated on the latest fashion trends; don’t get me wrong, it is very healthy if you choose to stay in vogue but the trick is to not overdo it. There’s a delicate balance between following fashion trends and following fashion trends to the point where it makes everyone question if you really belong in university at all. Observe your surroundings to blend in and use it as your best tactic. The easiest way to spot a freshman is to look for those severely overdressed for the casual environment of a university. Strike a balance between these two states and remember to do what gives you the most confidence!
Confidence and eye-contact will take you a long way in life, especially in university! Don’t feel intimidated just because you’ve only started, this is a place where you come to learn both in the classroom and outside of it. On that note, for those of you who suffer from anxiety, learn to understand that everybody is absorbed in their own problems and will not pay any attention to you so there is little need to feel uncomfortable.
Widen your social circle by all means – it’s the best thing that you can do for your future – but learn to differentiate between a friend and an acquaintance which leads us to the last and perhaps the most important lesson.
You might not remain friends for life with the people that you start university with – and that’s completely okay! Learn to set your own priorities and understand that not everyone who becomes your friend has your best interests at heart. If you begin university with a large social circle then know that not everybody is going to be there for you all the time and you can’t possibly depend on them to do so. There will be a lot of drama but don’t let that mess with your personal priorities – learn to choose people who you truly trust to be your friends, rather than those you like for their popularity, wealth or brains.
Most of all, trust your instincts, get ready to work hard and get ready to experience the emotional whirlwind that we call university life!