Monday 8 February 2016

University and College Life Simplified

Back when I was a young first year starting at Victoria University for the first time I had been flatting for about 18 months prior to changing locale and moving to the big smoke of Wellington City. There I met Neil (a great friend even today, 7.5 years on).

Yes, 7.5 years ago I moved to Wellington. Today's post is focused on what I've learned during my time studying and will focus on campus life.
As a side note, I never stayed in a dorm/ hall so I have no idea what they are like.

My top 10 things to know about moving and living the university/college life.

1. You'll meet heaps of new people. Don't worry about making too many friends. I aim to have one or two people in each class I meet through the Tutorials we have to attend. This way I have one or two people I can sit by in the lectures and in the tutorials and actually get to know.
There may be literally hundreds of people in your lectures in first year, so it's crazy to think you'll know all their names at the end of the 12 week course. (Even your professors and tutors don't know everyone's names in that time period!)

2. Think about what you're taking with you to move, now halve it.
You really only need a few things while you're studying: 

a. A place to sleep (aka a bed). I had a mattress on the floor of my flat and did fine. Stack two on top of each other, or seriously invest in a bed base, your spine will thank you for it.

b. a Desk or Table to study at. I honestly used the dining table in one flat.

c. Flatmates or roommates to share the costs. It is very expensive to live alone. Get friends in to help financially. More people generally means the costs will be cheaper, but see what you can handle. I've lived with just the 1 flatmate and in larger places with up to 5 others. My fiance lived in a large house with 9 people in it! (That was too large, too loud and way too dysfunctional for me).

d. A little money and the ability to Budget - Budget really well... 
First take out how much your rent is.
Then your estimated bills (power, internet and cell phone all have monthly charges. Work these out and save up for when the bills come in).
Then anything else: food.
Then save the rest for a Rainy Day Fund,
Then some (if there's any left) for partying, drinking and anything you want for entertainment.

I decided that paying rent, bills and food were my three most important things. Some months I had very little food money left so I would talk to my Student Advisors on campus and pick up a Food Bank Parcel for that month. I didn't go to a movie at the cinema for over two years at one stage, just because I was saving and living pay-check to pay-check. Not ideal. So on that note: Always, Always have a "rainy day fund" stashed away, and for this I do not mean Movie or Coffee or Date Night, I mean for the times you're so sick you need to see a doctor*.

3.  Changes with friendships:
Your old friends from school may leave your life as you move into campus and study mode, and that's okay. Their lives are changing too. They may also be really special and stay around even if you're in separate places and living different lives.

4. You'll grow up.
You'll learn a lot of new things in classes.
You'll also learn to be a functioning adult able to budget and pay bills.
Look at you being all adult and adulting all over the place!

5. You might fall in love. 
Life will be sunshine and rainbows and 24/7 happiness.
It may be a long lasting romance, or a summertime fling.

6. And out of love. 
Or lose someone you were close to.
You soon realise that life is not always sunshine and happiness.

7. You may find a job you're only doing for the pay, or to get to know that cute person better, or to learn new skills. You'll probably have fun there and no adult job after you finish studying will quite be the same. You'll also appreciate how much your family did for you to help get you to where you are now.

8. At the end of your degree you'll look back and wonder what all the fuss was about when you first started. 
Everyone's scared of doing new things.
Everyone's afraid of failure.
You're also not everyone, because you're here and giving it a go, no matter how scared you feel.
Life has up's and down's, and part of college life is learning to embrace them, and learning to accept changes. If you're having a bad time emotionally, please seek the advice of the counsellors available to students on campus*.

9. Everyone started in the same place - Your professors were once first years, nervous and timid on their first day too. Some of them even feel first day jitters even now years and years on. Treat everyone as equal to you. You never know if they will be your future boss, or you could be their future boss! Literally everyone started at the bottom and worked their way up through life to get to where they are today.

10. Encourage your fellow students, and citizens of the city you're in. 
The students at least are feeling the same things you are - homesickness, they're nervous about getting lost, they're scared they will fail the upcoming assignment/ test/ exam... they're scared they're not good enough to be here. Everyone gets these feelings. It's normal.
Over time it gets easier. In the second trimester/semester onwards life on campus got easier. I didn't feel lost, I could (kind of) get my way around campus, and people would ask *me* for directions on the street in town.

* Some campus' have FREE medical services for students. See if your campus offers this. 

Hopefully these 10 points have helped a little. I think this year I'm going to try and write more about self-help type topics as well as keeping up with my usual random ramblings each week. I also want to know what YOU think. I've created a quick survey HERE which shouldn't take too long. 
I'd love to hear your FEEDBACK! 

Until next time,
xx. Lisa.

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