Thursday, 25 April 2013

Dare's Tips For Surviving First Year

Well guys, I have completed my first year of university, and I lived to tell the tale! To say it was a challenge would be an understatement. Don't get me wrong! I had some great times this year and I can honestly tell you it was a great experience! But... there were some struggles and some difficulties that I had to overcome. I hope that I haven't scared you in previous posts by complaining about how hard university is. I'm just a very dramatic person! In retrospect, your university/college experience will be whatever you make of it. Here are some helpful tips I have learned along the way that will help you to make the best of time in your first year of post-secondary education. 

1) Stay in residence your first year. I know this is a personal decision that could take in many different factors, but I highly recommend you stay in residence your first year. Most of the friends I made were on my floor. It's different for every person, but I think that as long as you make an effort to be friendly and welcoming, other people will too, and your bound to make friends! Just remember, everyone there is as nervous as you are about making friends. 

I admit that there were times when I hated living in residence. It was small and crowded, and I had to share a 5-stall, 3-shower co-ed bathroom with 28 other people but when I look back, I wouldn't have met all the people I did if I wasn't in residence.

2) Participate in orientation/frosh activities. This is a biggie. Whether or not you decide to stay in residence, you absolutely have to participate in orientation week. Because a) it is your first opportunity to explore the campus and know your way around, b) it's another good way to make friends (especially if you are not living in residence), and c) it's your time to show your school spirit! 

Lots of schools pride themselves on their school spirit and traditions. I nearly lost my voice during my frosh week from cheering so much. There were football games, a carnival, coverall painting, concerts, dances, rolling in the dirt, and free stuff. Can't forget about the free stuff!

3) Stay organized. Okay, we're on to the educational stuff now. Things can get pretty hectic with classes and it can overwhelm you very easily. Get an agenda or a day planner where you can write things down like test dates and assignments (Proffs might not tell you these exact dates in class, so be sure to check the class's website frequently). On top of that, be organized with your notes. If you have neat handwriting, keep organized notebooks/binders. If not (or if you simply prefer it), use your laptop and have specific folders for each class. And remember to write the date on every note! 

4) Don't freak out if you don't like a class. This was difficult for me to accept, but it's okay to switch classes. Look at me! I'm switching to a completely different program! If it's too late in the year to switch, that's okay too. You can stick it out for the rest of the class and take something different next year. 

5) Be educated on your meal-plan. Meal plans are complicated. There are so many different rules and restrictions, that it can sometimes be easy to mess up and be out of meals for the week! Ooops! I even knew some people who had used up all their meals for the year way before school ended. It really depends on how your school does meal plans, but I recommend getting the biggest meal plan option offered, even if you don't think you're going to eat that much.

6) Scope out the places to eat on campus. On the topic of food, it's a good idea to check out all the cafeterias and restaurants that will take your meal card. I went over half the year without discovering this amazing salad bar that I absolutely loved, and I'm kicking myself for not taking full advantage of that.

7) Explore the library. So I know that many of you are probably like me and consider the public library a second home. However, school libraries can be very intimidating. I highly recommend you do a little exploring and find a room in the library that suits you, and spend a little time after class everyday, or even every second day, doing some work in the library. This will get to comfortable with the atmosphere and you'll get a ton of work done. Even if you think you can work in your room, trust me, you wont. The internet is way to appealing.

8) Get comfortable with the gym. Even if you're not an exercise person (like I wasn't), become one (like I did). I'm serious. The gym is a great way to blow off stress and even if you hate exercising, you feel great afterwards (I speak from experience). The gym became my happy place because it was somewhere I could go where I wasn't technically procrastinating because it was healthy... but I technically wasn't doing work either. A good compromise. 

If you're interested, the gym at your school will most likely offer some great fitness classes and programs. I got involved in one called Turbo Kick, which is basically the love child of kick boxing and dance. These are a really fun way to hang out with your friends and to get a great work out too!

9) Don't forget to take some "Me Time". This may seem like an overused cliche, but I'm serious. In the hustle and bustle of a fast-paced university life, you can easily forget to take care of yourself too. Take some time to read, watch a movie, go for ice cream, or paint your nails every once in a while. Don't procrastinate and leave your work to the last minutes, but don't get to caught up in it either. Take a breather to de-stress your life and do something for your self. It's a mental health thing.

10) Don't panic. It's easy to freak out if you get a bad grade, but don't worry about it too much because it's not the end of the world. Just make the necessary improvements to do better next time. Something I really regret about this past year is that I spent most of it worrying. Learn from my mistakes!

I hope this gives you guys a little bit of an idea about what university/college is like (if you haven't already experienced it for yourself yet) and I really hope you find these tips useful. Just remember it's a learning experience and I time for you to grow as a person. I'm not trying to be one of those people who tell you "This is where you'll find yourself/your place in life" cause the truth is, you may not. I sure didn't! What I'm trying to tell you is to make the most of your university/college experience and to enjoy it. If you put the effort in, your sure to have a great time!

-Dare :)


  1. what the heck is a meal plan?

    1. Basically you buy a meal plan when you register for residence, and it has money and/or a certain number of meals on it that you can use to get food. Every school have at least one cafeteria and you need to swipe your meal card to get in. Some schools even have take-out places on campus that will swipe your meal card. Every school is different, so be sure you understand how yours works. Mine had 18 meals a week, and an extra 40$ for take-out on it.
      Hope this clears some things up! :)

    2. Huh, I dunno if Canada has those. My sister certainly didn't get one :S
      Though she doesn't live on campus..

    3. I'm from canada lol :)
      If she didn't live on campus she probably didn't need one.

    4. OMG really?????
      where are you from?
      I'm from Vancouver (well, technically surrey, but no one knows where that is :P)

    5. Ontario, so I guess we're on opposite sides :)

  2. ~Thanks for this info!! I`ll need it since i`m gonna start college soon >_<
    ~And, yeah. What IS a meal plan??

    1. No problem! And don't worry about being nervous for your first year, everyone else is just as new to the experience as you are!

      Check my reply above to answer your meal plan question. I guess I should have clarified a few things in my post :P Don't worry, though, I didn't know what a meal plan either, until I started. :)

  3. Exactly the tips I'd give! You really have to enjoy the experience of first year, stay organised and relaxed. Staying on campus in halls is definitely one of the key things to do! That and joining societies is the best way to make friends, meet plenty of people and get comfortable with your new home (: Great advice!

    I've nominated you for the Versatile Award by the way (:

    1. Thank you! I'll check that out soon! :)

  4. Gereat tips! I´m starting college in August and I´ve been reading lots of articles like this. It was very useful!