Today, thousands of Irish students got their Leaving Cert results (exams that dictate which college or university they can get into) and await the CAO offers next week offering their college courses. I've been through it all and it's honestly such a stressful time.
Once I accepted my place at university, I had an overwhelming sense of relief. But, then the panic set in. I had no accommodation, no real idea about the city I was moving to, how I was going to live 'alone', if I didn't know my roommates, what if I hated them? Needless to say I was basically an anxious mess. However, university is one of the best times in your life and once you get settled, not that stressful. Here are my top tips for surviving your first month at college. AKA, Twisp's Declassified College Survival Guide.
1. Attend Introductrory Events
The first week of college is a total whirlwind. There are tours, events held by clubs and societies and many parties held by local clubs and pubs.
I went to a lot of these events and all my introductory lectures. Basically if I could go and it was free, I went. I went on those cheesy tours where they show your around at least twice. I also was one of those cheesy tour guides last year and let me tell you, it is so awkward. It helped to go to all those things. I made some new friends at events like movie screenings, table quizzes and more. Hey, you will probably never see these people again but it's nice to meet new people so you know a few people around campus.
2. Join Clubs and Societies
Now, if you know me in real life, you know I'm about that SocLife. My university has two days dedicated to joining societies and clubs. I signed up for pretty much everything I found to be interesting. I ended up being really into the Baking Society and the Literary and Debating Society (Lit and Deb). I joined the committee for Baking Soc as the Public Relations Officer and attended debate weekly. I made some of my best friends in college through societies, attended some pretty kickass balls and events, and met some amazing people including Ardal O'Hanlon (Dougal from Father Ted). If you take away anything from this post, it's that societies are great for making new friends.
3. Go To Lectures
College and Universities have a reputation for students never attending lectures and tutorials. I know it's super tempting to skip when you don't have your parents or teachers forcing you to go to class. Especially in the first few weeks it's really important to get a feel for what you like and don't like. I'm studying an Arts degree and the first couple of weeks we had so many options for courses. I went to all the introductory lectures of courses I was interested in. I had originally planned on taking IT for one of my four options and I ended up hating it. Because I had explored other options, I was able to change from IT to Irish before the closing date of class registrations. College is amazing because for once in your life you can actually take subjects you're interested in and not forced to study.
4. You don't have to be Friends with Everyone
Making new friends is a really daunting task. You will make best friends for life in college but you don't have to be friends with everyone. When I was first preparing for uni, I had this idea that I would become best friends with people in my classes and my roommates. Spoiler: I didn't. And, that is totally okay! In secondary school, you make friends mainly because you're stuck with these people five days a week for most of the day. College? Particularly in first year, you'll meet someone in class and probably never see them again. You can pick and choose your friends based on actual interests and it's okay to not be best friends with that one person who's in all your electives or to be best friends with your roommates like in Friends. You do you, and it's all cool!
5. If you're gonna party, stay safe
College parties are infinitely better than secondary school ones. Going out to bars and clubs are so much better in university towns and cities than in small towns. That being said, bigger parties come with bigger risks. Not to sound like your mother but if you're going out drinking, make sure you've got a safe way home. When I went to university first, my boyfriend and I decided to take a Krav Maga course which was so much fun! It was really worth the money and I feel a hell of a lot safe knowing I can defend myself. On nights out, I like to withdraw a certain amount in cash and then use either a Hailo Cab or if you're city has them an Uber I really love using these to get home in case I spend all my cash or worst case scenario, my purse gets robbed. The just apps make it so much easier for drunk me haa.
Also, let's talk about sex baby, you will get like a thousand free condoms in college, don't let them go to waste. Use them. Keep them in your purse or wallet for nights out, either way, be safe.
6. You will miss home
Don't listen to people who are saying they don't miss home at all. It's a bravado. Nearly every person I spoke to in my first few weeks told me they missed home. Hey, I still miss home every now and then. It's not a big deal. Talk to your family or friends, or even the college counsellors or a service like The Samaritans. College counsellors are trained to deal with this and can be incredibly helpful for free! Honestly, you can always go home at weekends and there's no need to stress if you feel like you don't fit in or can't make friends. You will, trust me on this one. Call your family at least once a week. They can make a bad day seem a lot brighter (and also make a walk home from class seem a lot shorter too). Once you're settled, you won't want to leave at the end of the semester. To be quite honest, going back to college is basically like returning to Hogwarts for some students. It becomes a home away from home.
Here's a little collage of some of my favourite gallery of some of my favourite college memories so far!
Let me know in the comments what helped you settle into college and if you're just starting where you're headed off to in September!