I’ve seen the future – and the future is intensive study.
Or at least, that’s what the third years tell me. Skulking behind the bookshelves between Freud and insentience, there’s always an older student telling you to ‘enjoy first year because dissertations are the devil’s work’. Although that warning is probably worth heeding, the transition from a glorious summer to cold, unrelenting independence can sometimes obscure the definition of ‘enjoyment’. In a world where moderation is considered a rarity, are there guidelines for first years to work, eat and prosper without breaking down and subscribing to Netflix?
In the words of Duke Dumont, I got u. Or at least, I know which mistakes I made. Here are the five top things I learned in my first semester.
- Let’s get the logical thinking out of the way first. First year IS important. It’s the stuff of folklore I know, but it may not be for the reasons you think. Freshers have a lot more free time than we realise; one of my closest friends has begun referring to her contact hours as ‘days on’ because her course has about six a month. Use this time wisely. Networking is a vastly underrated concept and it’s always worth going out and making an effort. Contacts are the currency of business (so my economically gifted friends tell me) so think about making some calls, sending some emails and trying to give yourself a foot up for the internship hunt. What about that CV you wrote in 2009? The game has changed a little bit since then.
- I’ll just come out and say it – you don’t need to drink to have fun at university. Although the drunken discovery of a new underground nightclub is to be applauded, boozy ‘big ones’ aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. It is very easy to forget that. For most people, university is a little bit different from their life at home; hurling abuse at someone for ‘not going hard enough’ is just not cool. Removing alcohol from the agenda may stop you from setting foot in Jesters (not a bad thing if you want my opinion) but there is a lot to be appreciated from a sober perspective. A relaxing dinner, a pilgrimage to Sprinkles or a spontaneous trip to the theatre are all pretty good alternatives.
- The most obvious change for many students is the tangential shift in our body clocks. All of a sudden, 10pm is fine dining time while 2am is the comedown period after cracking what amounted to 150 words of an introduction. There’s very little we can do to resist this; exercising will help to tire you out but I’ve found that this doesn’t necessarily equate to an earlier bedtime. It is best to just try and embrace the change because clubbing, studying, eating or whatever it is you find yourself doing in the early hours of a Tuesday morning will likely throw you off your body clock reset.
- Thankfully, there are ways to adjust. In order to avoid staring blankly into space for any length of time, a routine is, and will continue to be, one of the great repellents for idleness. Like any good councillor will tell you, having something to look forward to will help deal with the trials and tribulations of everyday life. It’s remarkable how attractive that Asda ready-meal can become if you know it is part of the bigger picture – or, in less dramatic terms, a routine.
- Lad culture really is pointless. You’re probably reading this article and placing bets on whether or not I’ve actually ever seen a girl before. I’ve never really been what you’d describe as a ‘lad’ and pretty much everyone I know would stand tribute to that – some more vehemently than others. Before I came to university, the rise of this sub-culture had me more than a little concerned; indecent sexism and a plain lack of respect for anything more sophisticated than Stella Artois wasn’t something I expected to find in an academic arena. From my perspective, the movement is fading fast amidst increased media scrutiny and that is something that we should all be thankful for.
At the end of the day, my experience falls within the parameters of my own vision. The first semester of university is a challenging but rewarding one, while the search for second year housing is an appropriate way to mark the advent of the second semester. Enjoy 2015, drink in moderation, eat to excess and watch your bank balance because you can be sure it won’t be watching you.