It is a belief held my many that the best lessons in life are learned through experience. That you will one day throw yourself out there and cast off the stabilisers of youth is an incredibly invigorating thought - immerse yourself in every new experience, who knows what lurks behind the next corner of existence?! Wait a minute - this isn't a coming-of-age cheesy American rom-com! This is real life! So why not try to avoid making the classic catastrophic mistakes that so many people do every year. If you're about to head off to uni in September, I'm sure you will have done lots of research, visited the odd forum, and been on the receiving end of countless nagging sprees from your parents/older siblings/aunts/uncles/seemingly the entire world, who are apparently experts about the dos and don'ts of university (it's only because they care! And to ruin your life, obviously). So without further adieu, and only YOUR best interests at heart, here are some of mine and a few other willing victim's thoughts on what we wish we knew before we came to uni:
DON'T buy one of those useless fresher’s packs...Do with this information what you will, but the main fresher’s nights advertised are often extremely over sold and quite frankly terrible. Each year, masses of first years flock to painfully middle-brow bars and clubs only to be chewed up and spat out onto the streets, yet the process seems to feed off continuous failure. There's no room to dance. There's no where to talk. There's no hope of happiness. Try exploring the city you're in or areas a bit further from campus to get out of your comfort zone - you'll meet loads of cool 2nd and 3rd years and have a total blast. If you manage to get to a house party in fresher’s week, give yourself a rather large pat on the back and 100 bonus points for being totally fabulous and cool (but don't tell anyone you did that).
DON'T spend your money on new text books This is the voice of reason speaking. £50 for a text book is heartbreaking. Buying another 4 at the same price isn't worth thinking about - you could probably buy a small forest with that, manufacture thousands of your own books, and build a charming little wooden lodge in the Alps with the left over timber. Try and find second hand book fairs - they'll always be around, whichever uni you go to. Or better yet, borrow from the library (takes a bit more planning and ruthlessness). Just try not to end up with a late-return fine equal to your weight in gold.
Avoid purchasing kitchen utensils unless they're completely necessary
What a wonderful miniature ice-cream scoop with a polka-dot handle! Oh, and what's that device, a pineapple ringer?! It's a must, it really is. And of course you must have at least three different sizes of wok and a minimum of 5 chopping knives. Alternatively, you could go for the chic minimalistic approach (all the rage in Paris, darling) and get one pot, one pan, the standard crockery/cutlery for one and, oh what the hell, bring a cheese-grater too. Your fellow flat mates will undoubtedly be bringing mountains of kitchen junk with them, and if you're lucky only one of them will be a bit weird about sharing pans as a result of leguminophobia (fear of beans, a very real and debilitating condition, should not be taken lightly). All this (or rather, nothing really at all) means at the end of the year you have less useless crap to pack up and cart home! **TIP** get a cook book. If you feel bad about borrowing other people's stuff i.e. you find yourself the target of a witch hunt, offer to cook every now and again; food absolves all feelings of resentment.
Try to attend most of your lectures...I know your bed is comfy. I know you went out last night and didn't get in till 4am. I know you feel like you're going to burst into flames and die if you open the curtains. Not attending lectures is a rapidly progressing downward spiral; you miss one, you miss them all. What's that you're saying? You'll just catch up? IT ISN'T POSSIBLE. An old and very powerful magic prevents this happening, disguised in the form of laziness and lack of hindsight. But seriously, try to go to as many lectures as you can - it'll be a lot less work for you when you get to the dreaded exam period.
Think about starting your work a bit earlier than 18 hours prior to the deadline...From the beginning of time, since man first walked the earth and so long as the sky is blue students will continue to leave work till the last minute. In fact, this particular point is probably entirely fruitless -rumour has it that in 1578 a secret treaty between essay writers was formed, agreeing to refrain from work till the eleventh hour. Others say it runs through our blood. If you can fight the madness and start work earlier, you are a miracle of education; in fact, be careful not to disrupt the delicate equilibrium of the universe if you’re going to embark on this quest.
DON'T GET AN EBAY ACCOUNTOtherwise known as the student’s downfall. In fact, all forms of online shopping tend to end badly – clicking somehow doesn’t resonate as money spending; it just feels like you’re playing a fun game with lots of happiness, rewards and treats at the end. But then everything comes crashing down around you and you’re left with £4.87 left in your bank account for the next two weeks. Hope you like instant noodles!
So there you have it. Some slightly tarnished but salvageable pearls of wisdom to keep your head above the choppy waters of first year. You’ll probably still make countless mistakes and poor decisions, but hopefully now you can avoid some of the classic errors. So now you know EVERYTHING, it’s pretty much certain that you will succeed in life. Go forth, young student, and prosper. Believe in yourself and fulfil your dreams; nothing is out of your grasp.