How To Survive Your First Year Of Varsity In Joburg

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Headed to your first year at university? Then we suggest you read our first-year survival guide. Here is a comprehensive list of things you need to know no matter where you search for higher education.  first year university

Don't Miss Orientation Week

Everyone says it’s a waste of time during the day and you should only bother pitching up for the parties at night, but it gives you a crash course on studenting 101. I didn’t stay for the entire period but the time I spent being guided around made me feel far less terrified.  You also get to meet new, equally terrified people who are just as lost as you are. Think of it as a slow submersion into a new way of life after 12 years of school routine. You also get shown things you really need to know like...oh, I don't know...how to use the libraries you will spend most of your waking life in during your next few years on campus. There's also a hefty amount of passive-aggressive "oh, you will have learnt to do that during O-Week" from your lecturers...and they're right. Show up. It's a week of your life and there are usually tons of promos going on...did someone say Red Bull? For free? For me? Yes, please! At the very least, you'll stay awake for the parties lined up every single night. Line up an Uber and get ready for a night you'll never forget but also probably won't remember.

Pack Lunch

Bring a retro lunchbox with sarmies and lunchables. To be honest, this was one of my biggest worries after having had my daily school lunch packed for me (all the privilege, yes I know). As a student, I wasn’t sure if it was “cool” to bring lunch to varsity. It totally is. Plus, you save on buying less healthy and more expensive grub which, as a huge bonus, keeps at bay that not-so-pretty “first year spread”. That said, find the golden places on campus for the days where cold two-minute noodles aren't doing it for you. Some of the best samoosas I have ever eaten were munched on the lawns of academia. Maybe it's because they're scrumptious. Maybe it's because you're hungover. Maybe it's Maybelline. If you do head to the food court, pay attention to where the lines are. There are lines because those places are good. The place with no line will probably give you gastro. Don't say I didn't warn you. But yes, do right by your body and avoid scurvy by bringing some pre-cut vegetables with you and polish your halo while you sadly munch your carrot stick.

Say Yes And No In Equal Measure

Balance your university years because first year is the best two years of your life (and I promise that won't be the last time you hear this joke). Spend time BOTH studying AND partying. Never forget that obtaining a tertiary education is a privilege and should not be taken lightly, but do take the free time you have to party, road trip, travel, make friends and experience life with the least possible amount of responsibility. Remember, you'll soon graduate and in all probability become formally unemployed, so live it up while you can but don't waste hard-earned money by messing around and flunking a course. You know how people used to tell you that no one ever asks you what you got for Matric? Firstly, that's not really true (sorry) and secondly, your employers are very interested in that academic transcript the university gives you. You know the one that contains every single course with every single grade? Yup. Maybe skip the three-shots-for-the-price-of-one students' special this Thursday if you've got a test on Friday morning.

Don't Take The Library For Granted

I know it’s the 21st century and everything is digital but nothing will ever beat the smell of the dusty old tomes or the feel of the crisp pages between your fingers. Perhaps it’s a personal preference but the studious silence calls… If you're staying in res, the library can provide the perfect respite and an escape from the rowdy bunch. Some even offer all-night rooms. Not for staying over when you have had a tipple too many, mind. However, if you still prefer the laptop then be sure to use the university accredited sites. #notwikipedia. Libraries also contain tons of computers for your use and a bunch of printers that will save you a bunch of cash.

Join The Club

Join any extramural, club activities or volunteer groups that are within your field of study (or beyond it for that matter...ski club tends to relate to very few degrees). My journo course had a newspaper and I made the great mistake of not contributing to it at all. Once your studies are over and you start looking for a job, you’ll find that most junior positions require a measure experience. “I JUST GRADUATED!" isn’t good enough. So, anything you can put on your CV will give you a leg up. Groups like these also offer a sense of camaraderie. Remember, once you're in the real world, networking is all about those connections! Common interests mean you'll meet some of your best friends here. While on the subject of CV building, here's another tip for you: do charity work and get a job. Nothing screams privilege louder than not having worked a day in your life prior to graduating. Tutor, work in retail, au pair, stock shelves, do whatever you've got to do to have an employer listed under "References" on your CV. Charity work demonstrates altruism and it tends to put a lot of your everyday troubles into perspective. We receive more than we give when it comes to giving time to others.

Seize The Day: Make Good Use Of Vacations

Don’t take your holidays for granted! I now look back on those long breaks (three months! THREE MONTHS!) and wish I had taken better advantage of them. Find part-time work (or hell, find full-time work...THREE MONTHS), save the cash (flash your student card like it's an FBI badge on a TV show and watch the discounts flow) and then plan a journey to a place you've always wanted to visit. In only a few short years it will all be over and your student days long gone, but you'll be all the richer in life experiences. And, as far as I know, there are no orientation days for Adulting 101. Ugh. Someone should get on that, don't you think?

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