Dear first years,
Welcome to university!
I’m sure that the road leading up this moment was filled with many successes and challenges, but you made it. This next phase of your life, which will usher you into adulthood, is going to be the most exciting and eye-opening one yet.
University life offers you the opportunity to find yourself and enjoy your newfound freedom. However, it has the potential to overwhelm you if you’re not adequately prepared for it. Here’s what you can expect in your freshman year.
Let’s start with the primary reason that you’re here, and that is to obtain a qualification that will render you employable to the corporate world.
As you will have noticed, paying for this qualification is expensive, so work hard to get your money’s worth. Strive for excellence with your academics, and study to understand your field of interest and not merely to pass the semester.
You will get to a point where you’re just trying to pass when the workload gets a bit much. Varsity workload is a lot, and requires you to work smart by learning to prioritize and to manage your time.
Your professors are here for you, and they sincerely want to see you achieve excellence in your work. Consult with them, and take your tutorials and tests seriously. They’re for your own good.
You’ll probably miss lectures out of choice, but know that catching up with work that you missed will be your responsibility. Information given out in lectures is not always in your reading material, and lectures help to summarize reading material, making it easier for you to understand.
Try not to do your assignments the night before they’re due. Computers fail, USB sticks get viruses and printers don’t work the day before and on the due day of the assignment. The reason for that remains a mystery.
Nobody is going to chase after you to make sure you meet all of your responsibilities. Consider this as rule number one of adulthood.
Don’t miss any of the orientation activities because not only are they fun, but you will feel less overwhelmed with trying to know your way around campus. It’s also a great way to begin the process of making friends.
Don’t be a horrible prick that lacks socialization skills. Be friendly and approachable, and learn the art of striking up conversation by simply saying “hi” or commenting about the weather.
You will meet tons of new people from diverse backgrounds, and that’s the beauty of the university experience. Being in diverse social setting opens up your mind to the world as you are exposed to things outside of what you know, which include different languages, religions and perspectives on life.
Some friendships will be seasonal, and others will be for a lifetime. The friends you meet during this time will be the ones that will walk with you for life.
You will fall in love, get your heart broken, get drunk and party like you’re a rock star. In the midst of having fun, don’t neglect your academics.
And with love, the person you meet while studying might or might not be your life partner. Don’t stress too much over that because love has a way of working itself out.
Your bedroom at home will probably be bigger than your dorm room, and that’s okay. Make an effort to make your dorm feel homely by decorating it according to your own style.
Gone are the days where you’ll be picky about germs. You’ll be sharing a bathroom with other students on your block. Make sure you wear showering shoes while in the shower, and leave the toilet in the manner in which you would like to find it.
It’s best to get along with your roommate because you’ll be living with them. Respect them and their space. They might end up being your best friend, but don’t be too bummed if they’re not.
If you’ll be living in a residence that caters food, don’t expect 5-star cuisine. Everything is boiled and salted just to ensure that you don’t go hungry. And if you’ll be cooking for yourself, eat cous cous instead of noodles as a quick-to-make starch, and try not to starve to death by making time for cooking.
You will feel homesick and overwhelmed with work/life balance. Cry, scream, talk to someone, visit home and get back to work and living out the new phase of your life.
I wish you all the best, and enjoy this time because these are your final years of having few responsibilities and lots of time to do whatever you like.
*image from Wits University.
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