UNIVARSITY.ORG | 10 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me in My First Year at University
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20 Feb 10 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me in My First Year at University

There is nothing like learning from your mistakes, but why learn from your own mistakes when you can learn from others? Every year, tens of thousands of South Africans enrol to university for the first time and a whole new world of challenges and excitement await.

However, “challenges” is just old-person speak for, “Things are about to get difficult.” You will have to take our word for it that these challenges will make you a better person. There are some things though, that you can simply bypass on the learning curve and Kelly Ansara explains below, from her perspective as a first year student just what those are.

“Bright-eyed and bushy tailed; I walked onto campus! Books piled into my shiny new satchel; I was wearing spanking-new jeans, clean All Stars and a pencil bag with every colour highlighter you could imagine. I was ready to take on the world one faculty at a time. Ambition was my name and a BA in Journalism was my game.

They gave me lists of books, classes, lecturers, maps… and a student card (with a dorky picture of me on it). But what they didn’t give me was everything I learned and earned in my first year.”

  1. Smile on your student card photo – you don’t want to look like a felon for the next 4 years.
  2. Buy a pair of comfortable trainers or flip flops for those flights of stairs.
  3. You won’t make friends on your first day; you will be too worried about finding your lecture venues.
  4. Coffee is a prerequisite and it’s cheap.
  5. Buy your textbooks second hand because it’s economical.
  6. Remember you are only a number to the lecturer unless you decide to stand out.
  7. Join a club or society – you’ll meet people and get involved in something you love.
  8. Your education is yours and yours alone. Don’t expect any hand-outs.
  9. Love what you do, if you don’t then no one else will.
  10. Most of all, you will grow in so many other ways over the next few years other than just your degree. Keep an open mind!

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes as they don’t define who you are; varsity is so much more than textbooks and marks.

Also, don’t forget to pay it forward. Take a look around your first year class and you will see just as many wide-eyed teenagers desperately trying to make sense of it all. Be on the lookout to help someone with some insight you have gained. It’s the quickest way to make friends on campus – and you are going to need those friend for the next three to four years of your life!



Sue Fontannaz

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