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How to survive your first semester of university

Vanessa Tobias

Careers Commentator

Wow, you guys. I don’t want to alarm anyone but your first semester of uni can be crazy. For some of you deluded souls, you’ll be spreading your wings, and taking off in this weird world, excited to be starting at a university for the first time, full of hopes and dreams. Welcome aboard student life my friends. It’s a long journey, there’s cheap goon, but only minimal sleep. You’ll find the safety exits on the left and you can eject any time and head back home with your tail between your legs. But like the fairy university godmother I am, I’m here to give you ALL the tips on how to survive your first term at university so that doesn’t have to be the case. Uni is easy really. It’s like riding a bike, but the bike’s on fire. And the ground's on fire. And everything’s on fire because you’re in hell. Um yeah. Anyway, these tips should make it easier.

Elmo on fire


Start getting dirt on your professors 

This is what I like to call the recon stage. Crack out that private investigator hat because you're about to find out all the information you can on your professors and instructors before you even make it into class. Stalk all their social media accounts and online presence. Take note of all their favourite foods and music, where they like to hang out and where they live. Follow them home and go through their trash to find out absolutely everything about them.

This will come in handy down the track when you need to bribe them for an extension on that assignment with their favourite home cooked banana bread, a concert ticket to Alice Cooper (just me?) or potentially kidnap their first born child for ransom. I’m kidding. Or am I?

Image of baby

Show dominance in your new digs 

You’ll either be moving into a share house or in dorm rooms with unfortunately other real life breathing humans. Urgh. Other people are the worst. Anyway, like in any sort of relationship with other humans there’s a hierarchy system and only room for one alpha, and you better get in fast and establish yourself as the dominant one straight up, or you’ll be stuck with the top bunk or the worst room, which basically makes you your roommate's bitch for the rest of the year.

Don’t bother with pleasantries like hello and introducing yourself, that’s for losers. Never make eye contact, because as the Alpha you are above having to look people in the eye.  Make everything into a competition for the first week like who can cook the quickest, eat the quickest or who can drink beer the quickest and remember – If you ain't first your last.  Fight dirty at all stages to guarantee you win. Pee on their bed as a final show of dominance if all else fails.

Image of beds

Show how smart you are in class 

Spend your first term in your lectures proving how smart you are by interrupting your professor at every given opportunity with your opinion on something and why you know more with your 18 years of experience in the world compared to their 18 years studying this particular subject. After every thing your professor discusses, ask 'is this is going to be in the test?' and if not, you’ve got free reign to use the time instead to text your friends, check your Facebook or send emails to your parents back home.

Why waste your time reading the stuff they give you to prepare for class? Makes no sense when you are going to discuss it there anyway. If your lax attitude makes you fall behind on the subject, make up a sob story about your Great Auntie Jan's twice removed cousin Tim's cat who needs a liver transplant (do cat’s even have livers?) and the stress is all too much. If that doesn't work, cry, flirt or chain yourself to their desk until they agree to give you extra credit. 

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How to make new friends at university  

Making new friends is easy when you know what you’re doing. Don’t bother with that 'how to win friends and influence people' garbage. Honestly, that stuff seems like a whole lotta effort for minimal reward. And being nice to people? Who are you, Mother Theresa? Honestly, who comes up with this crap?

What you need to do is track down the 'cool' and 'popular' looking people. Invite yourself to sit with them at lunch. Interrupt their conversations to discuss yourself and how flippin' great you are at, well, everything. Making fun of your peers makes them try harder to like you so joke about their appearance and lack of intelligence at every opportunity. Stalk their Facebook and show up at every bar and events they are attending until they give up and accept that you now hang with them, whether they like them or not.

Alternatively, you could act like a normal person, be friendly and respectful and study hard to get by, but where's the fun in that?