Surviving University.

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I got asked one of the most important questions today and it was from my Mum.

It wasn’t along the lines of “Could you reach into the bottom of the freezer and grab out something to eat” because my poor Lois, is shrinking as she ages gracefully to being 21.  Instead it was, “Are you ready for tomorrow?”

I think Mum/Lois was talking more outside the box and on the lines of, “Are you mentally ready and should I hold your hand tomorrow?”

Since I know that my Mum will be reading this when I update, I shall say the following: Yes Mum, I think I am mentally ready besides I don’t think I can be more traumitised after being reminded constantly last Monday about how juggling Uni, studying, working and a social life is going to be difficult.

Now as a twenty something year old, who still gets excited over the most oddest things, I don’t need you holding my hand. But you could pack my lunch bag and leave a note in it. Saying” To Nurse Betty, good luck today. Kick arse, don’t bite the teacher but punch your fellow classmatesLove, Lois“.

And yes, I can openly admit that I am shitting myself once again, from fright and fear that no one will like me. Normal to think along those lines, right?

Yes knowing my Mum pretty well, I would seriously say after a burst of laughter. Raise one or two brows, the glance that says all and me sitting there with an innocent grin on my face.

She would pack me a mean lunch complete with chopped carrot sticks and a couple of juice boxes for my ‘little school mates’. Before I burrow deep into my little lunch box and discover that it was sealed off with said letter now covered in tear marks, letter smudges from said tears, large amounts of full stops and ‘I’m so proud of you’ comment that every kid wants to here.

Knowing me so well, the letter will make me burst out into laughter and much to my annoyance will gain attraction from fellow passer-byers and strange looks.

All I can say in my defence when I glare back at you like “What? Never heard of laughter beforehand?” is: I wear odd socks, dance in puddles, don’t like going out without wearing my bright red “hooker” lipstick one day a week and I like to laugh.

The main thing that is getting to me is not the fact that I am going to a shit load of books to carry, heaps of assignments and assessments (heard of high school anyone?), trying to appear that yes, I am mentally okay and no I am not a giggly freak 24/7… Okay, more like 18/7 really to my fellow peers and professors. But how the hell am I going to survive University.

After scouting for the past three months and picking minds of those who have attended are attending, I realised that no one ever mentioned anything about Googling keys words such as: University, Manual or Survival. Nothing!  All I got told was:

  • When it comes to assignments and assessments, don’t procrastinate! Start working on them straight away when you get them. Otherwise, they will bite you in the arse. -Theresa.
  • Buy a lot of highlighters and highlight EVERYTHING that is important to you. And when I mean everything, I mean everything-Tarie.
  • So are you looking forward to working with elderly people and random people and going to university? I seriously suggest soaking up the awesomeness from fellow people. -Tianza.
  • Did I mention: DO NOT PROCRASTINATE-Theresa.
  • I suggest spending a number of hours equally dividing your time between homework, studying, assignments, assessments and having an actual life outside of a book. – Mum.
  • I am so proud of you, Bug. You will kick arse. I know it and can feel it. – Jake.
  • How’s prepping going? Did you get everything you need? Remember post-its will save your life and highlighting everything too. Well done, Pretty. -Tarie.
  • Have you got everything prepared? Life insurance, funeral insurance, death notification, medication for headaches, and choice of music you want to be played at your funeral when you stop going out into society? – Me.
  • Just so you know, there is only one free call that you can make when you absolutely need my help. You have to be crying and everything. – Evie.

Did we see anything about Googling a manual in any of that? No, I didn’t think so. Me being me, I decided on doing a little check myself in case they were all holding back the relative and vital information that I NEEDED to consume. And I have stumbled across something that completely blew my mind out of the ball park.

The thing that knocked me out was: “Make friends with Nerds: In high school you might have picked on these guys: flushing their heads in toilets, tripping them, offering them blow and then laughing at them when they show you their goods.

You know, the usual. Once in university, the tables turn – the nerds are now the ruling party, but they don’t rule at any parties, so nobody invites them. Now, you need to suck up your pride and make friends with at least a few. If you can’t endure them in person, they are often available online and worth every moment of effort to maintain a friendship with.

Thanks wikipedia guide or your rather idiot bound one on ‘What Not To Do’. After then searching for what seemed a lifetime, the  UK Guardian might have gotten some of their facts correct after reading their bio line. Crossing my fingers and toes for luck, I clicked onto the link and BOOM! I was hit in the face with smartness and hints.

“First, get your finances sorted and open a student bank account. Doing this in your home town and using the branch of the bank in your university town when you get there could save you spending the whole of your first day in a bank queue.

Make sure you have applied for a tuition-fee loan, unless you have decided to pay the fees upfront, and that you know how you are going to pay for everything else.  Then, read through all the bumf sent by the university so that you know what’s happening when, and which events are compulsory.

Buy a diary and mark in things you really want to go to.  Musts for college students are registration, meeting your tutor and the library tour.

Putting all this somewhere near the top of your packing, together with copies of your exam certificatesfee payment forms or evidence of who is paying the fees, any important numbers, forms of ID, a collection of usable passport photos or any other documents you need for registration.

Check Facebook for any fresher or subject-based groups at the university you might want to join. Choose a travelling outfit in which you feel confident but which doesn’t make you look scarily unapproachable. Try not to fall in love with your next-door neighbour, get stuck with the same small group, pass out, or get arrested. Any of these could mean missing out on the full range of activities available.

On the other hand, don’t join every wacky society that waves a clipboard in front of you. You’re unlikely to find time for breakdancing or hot-air ballooning if you’re also serious about student politics. And you’re perfectly entitled to spend an hour or two alone in your room reading a book.”

Thank you Guardian! 

However going through a few more, everything started to sound the same after a while. Except for one. I don’t know why this stood out for but it made me sit there and think about everyone else who might have come across this website and for some, took the words literally to heart.

“One of the most common mantras amongst first year students is that the first year doesn’t count towards your final degree result, so the work doesn’t matter.

Increasingly this is becoming less common (please check on your own course and don’t take our word for it- we can be held responsible for many things, but your academic shortcomings is not one of them).

But even if your work doesn’t count, it doesn’t get you off the hook for doing it – if it wasn’t necessary, there would be no reason for first year to exist (some may argue that it is an opportunity for universities to squeeze another years worth of fees from eager young academics. We’re not that cynical.)

What I am about to say is the most patronising and condescending thing I have ever written, but it’s true so I’m going to say it anyway; if you don’t put any effort into your work in first year, you will regret it later.

Specifically, in the final weeks of 3rd year, when you are approaching your 39th solid hour in the library, the guy next to you is chomping noisily on pizza like he hasn’t a care in the world, and you suddenly realise that the textbook you’ve spent the last 18 days pouring over seems familiar.

Oh yeah, it was the introductory one you were meant to read in Fresher’s week.

The one that, had you just got on and read it at the time, would have provided you with the knowledge needed to make the last 3 years of lectures make sense.”

Combining all the information that I have received from people, whether I have asked for it or not, I have discovered that there might be help for us baby sharks (or shall I call us: Seal pups?) in this big pool of “Holy Crap!” after all.

But there is still no actual, living to this day, manual on how to survive University. I think with cups of steamy hot cups of coffee by the gallon load, pats on the back when we come out of hidy holes called our bedrooms, stumbling into light and hiss.

The ‘crawl before we walk’ mode clicks in and we learn to pat the ground with the tips of our toes before walking boldly out.

Then on top of it, having to learn on how to cope with bitter comments like “your assignments are unproductive and not based on context formed by blah blah. Change it.” Then after slaving away for what seems like 28 hours worth, comes back with red scribble, illegible chicken scrawl and a lovely Fail stamped on it.

And not breaking down at the sight of that and our peers staring at us like “Suck it up, moron!” or “Oh, he/she failed.”; then I think we might be able to survive the next three years.

I know if I do and not come out slightly damaged from all the stress and confusion, I am going to hit up all of my family members and buy myself a holiday to India or America. Graduation present is the next key goal and focus. That and passing all of my exams and University!

So with that, tomorrow is the big day.

Tomorrow is the day where I hit the alarm snooze button which will be set for 0500, roll over and creak open an eye and glance at the ceiling. Stumble into the bathroom after hitting the alarm clock again while hoping that I have done some serious damage to it.

Throw on some clothes that I have strategically planned out that says: “Hi! I’m new but I am keen to make friends. Please like me!” and make up, which will strategically hide the fact that I am close to crying my eyes out and that my student ID will look relatively “normal”.

(Mug shot anyone?)

All before grabbing myself a H-U-G-E cup of coffee and running out the door when I glance at the clock and see that it is nearly 0630 and I now have a two hour drive ahead of me.

Yes.

Tomorrow is the day where I become Nurse Scarlett and learn how to Survive.  With my packed lunch, juice box AND written love letter from Lois)

My parting words for those that I am also sharing this day, are:

Stop Look Listen

Remember the Green Cross Code.  This one comes under the “Survival, full stop” heading

I wish all of my fellow students at University of Southern Queensland and all the Universities around Australia; all the best for the following year and also may you pass all your exams and assignments.

Until next time,

Cheers.

P.s. I hope I get that bloody mean packed lunch box. If not, sad face.

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