It’s highly likely that most people think they know what to expect when starting university. Amongst the influx of Netflix dramas, movies, Twitter threads and tales passed down by older siblings and friends, you might think you’ve got it pretty figured out.
So, with all this information out there, what do you believe? Don’t panic! Here are a couple of myths we’ve debunked to ease your mind about what’s to come as you set sail through UTS waters.
1. You don’t need to try in your first year
What, like it’s hard? A common misconception is that grades in your first year don’t really count. Sure, you only need a pass to get you through but your first year can be really useful to help you build the foundations of what you will learn later on in your course. It’s the perfect training ground to hone basic skills like essay writing, reading, and even time management. First year is a chance to test the waters and make mistakes to learn from in your second and third years.
Balancing a social life between full-time study and a part-time job can seem daunting at first. Social media and meme culture are partially to blame for the idea that being a student means
suffocating under a stack of deadlines, work-loads, and all-round panic.
In reality, you have more time than you think to complete tasks. Not all assignments are designed to smother you in stress and have you feeling like you’re caught in a riptide. You’ll have bits and pieces of work to tackle week by week, gently guiding you through the semester.
2. Money Money Money
Ah yes, uni also comes with the dreaded finances and burgeoning cost of adulthood. But the broke uni-student culture perpetuated by student life memes shouldn’t have you cry-laughing your way through uni.
Budgeting can be hard, but it’s essential. Once you work out your basic costs like food, rent and transport you’re all set! You’ll be surprised at how much fun you can still have on a tight budget. The variety of cheap eats in and around campus will have you sorted for the day without breaking the bank. Hack: student discounts are way more common than you think. Always keep an eye out for them and don’t be shy to ask!
If you’re like me and spreadsheets aren’t really your thing, budgeting apps are another wonderful way to keep track of your finances. Track My Spend allows you to have a better idea of where you’re spending the most money. You nominate a spending limit (per week, per fortnight or per year), and each expense goes into a ‘needs’ or ‘wants’ section. This can help you pinpoint the areas where you could be saving more, and allows you to make goals
for the future.
Don’t forget to grab a concession Opal card and take advantage of every student discount you can get your hands on!
3. Sleep is for the weak
Never have I ever fallen asleep during a lecture...said no one ever.
While it may seem as though some people are constantly studying and hardly catching enough sleep, getting a good night’s sleep is invaluable and can really affect your day at uni. Sleep is a huge contributor to your overall wellbeing as I’m sure you’re aware, so it’s important to prioritise it.
But, if you’re anything like me, this will all go in one ear and out the other. Being able to stay relatively human on very little sleep is a superpower in itself. Surviving an all-nighter can be tricky, but also surprisingly unnecessary when you manage your time effectively. Power naps (that aren’t during class) are absolute lifesavers. Trust me, your body will thank you for all the sleep you can get and you’ll feel more productive in doing so.
Sleep meditation apps are also a great way to get your 8 hours in every night. A favourite of mine is Sleepiest – you can choose from either calming ocean sounds, sleepy guided meditations or even a soothing bedtime story to listen to. And yes, there is a story read by none other than Harry Styles to help you catch some z’s.
4. High school friends are forever
As the saying goes, friends are your chosen family. It might feel like the people that you surround yourself with in high school are the friends who will be with you forever. But it’s a fact of life that friendships can inevitably fade, especially as you begin a new chapter and progress through adulthood.
Recognising that some friendships are born of convenience is a hard truth to learn. Some friendships, as much as you want them to be everlasting, are solely built on the premise of attending the same school. You now live separate lives and have different ambitions, so it’s completely natural to lose the friendships that you once thought were eternal. It can be a harsh reality check when the only time you see old friends is on your Instagram feed.
But hey, it’s not all gloom and misery! I used to believe that moving to a new city and going to a different uni than all my friends meant I had to start from scratch to build a new social circle. It takes a lot of effort to stay in touch with old besties, especially if you live in different cities (or even different neighbourhoods!). So, my friends and I like to send little vlogs on Snapchat, a ‘Day In The Life’, if you will, to keep each other updated on what we’re doing. There’ll be friendships you keep and ones that you lose; it’s bittersweet but something that most people experience when starting university.
5. You can’t make friends in a pandemic
Making friends in normal circumstances can be challenging enough. However, virtual socialising is the new way of making friends thanks to social distancing and the imminent threat of a contagious virus.
Feeling a bit lost in the crowd? Don’t panic! Making friends at university is all about meeting like-minded people with similar interests to you. It’s surprisingly easier to do this (even in a pandemic) when you’re around people who study the same course as you.
This is where Zoom breakout rooms come in handy. We’ve all been in that one awkward breakout room where nobody talks and everyone’s cameras are off, but it’s hard to get to know people when you’re just a name in a grey box on a screen. If you turn on your mic and introduce yourself, the rest will usually follow, and you’ve now broken a layer of ice. Exchanging your social media handles and making group chats will help you out when you’re stuck on an assignment and need advice from your peers.
While we can’t link up in person, most events have been replaced by virtual ones. Most UTS societies offer online movie nights, Q+A panels and/or trivia nights as a fun way for people to still socialise with their peers. It can be hard to express yourself online, but taking these simple measures will help you stay connected even when you feel like it’s impossible.
It’s totally normal to be freaked out by your first semester in university, but trust your gut and enjoy the ride. The truth is, no one really knows what they’re doing despite appearances. We’re all in the same boat, riding the waves of uni together. The most important part of your university experience is that it’s what you make of it. Enjoy it as much as you can!