The fresher survival guide

Wed, Aug 15, 2012, 01:00

SURVIVING THE first few weeks of college isn’t always easy. Best to go with the flow and follow these ten commandments

1 DON’T TAKE CLASSES BACK TO BACK

If there’s any flexibility in your timetable, give yourself breaks between lectures. It may seem tempting to get all your lectures over and done with by Tuesday each week but preparation - both of the mental and literal kind - are needed before a class. If you spread them out a bit over the week, they will be more enjoyable.

2 REMEMBER TO EAT

Beer is not a food group. While it may add a few pounds to your waistline, it lacks all the necessary vitamins and minerals for survival. Food not only tastes good, it also fuels the body and mind and keeps you alive. A good tip is to always have a packet of stock cubes in the house. If all else fails you can boil the kettle and make some consommé, as the upper class would call it. The rest of us would probably refer to it as crappy soup.

3 TRY YOUR STUDENT CARD EVERYWHERE

It’s the American Express for students: never leave home without it. Your student card can come in handy for discounts on a variety of things including food, drink, travel, clothes, cinema tickets, you name it. Even if theres no sign in the window specifically stating discounts for students, try your luck anyway. Although dont bother trying to buy a car insurance with it. Itll probably work the opposite way.

4 EXPLORE THE WORLD BEYOND THE STUDENT BAR

The temptation to drink legally for the first time will lead many thirsty students straight to the on-campus drinking emporium. But remember that you are now, for the first time, in a position to go out and see the world in all its glory on your own. So use your time off from studying by exploring the local environs. Besides, you might find better pubs.

5 CLUBS AND SOCIETIES

Believe it or not, some clubs take place during the day and dont involve drinking and snogging strangers. In fact, university clubs and societies get more and more idiosyncratic as the years go on. So if you thought you were an outsider in school, youll likely find a group of people who also like to watch He-Man reruns upside down in the dark in college. They like it so much they got funding for a society devoted to it. Join as many clubs and societies as you can in the first few weeks. The football society, the cartoon society, the Spanish omelette throwing society, whatever. Its a good way to make friends and meet like-minded people who also love to fling Iberian egg-based dishes around.

6 READ THE NEWSPAPER

It’s worth getting into the habit of finding out whats going on in the world each day. It broadens the mind and may come in handy for whatever course you are doing. Memes dont count and only give you a general sense of popular culture. Read a newspaper, and you can start writing your own memes. And by newspaper, we clearly mean the Irish Times.

7 START DRINKING COFFEE

Coffee is the greatest study tool invented. It is lembas bread for any student (Lord of the Rings geeks will get the reference). Coffee needs to be part of your daily routine and is not bad for you as long as you dont over do it. So no more than ten cups a day.

8 NOT SO SMARTPHONE

In big lectures, things can get boring. When the dusty old pinprick of a lecturer appears to be just grunting over her powerpoint presentation, its easy to hide away in a lecture hall with 300 other students. But the worst friend a student in class can have is their smartphone. Hell, even if you have a Nokia 10 from the 1980s, youll play snake for an hour rather than listen to anymore nonsense about 12th century agricultural practice. So either turn it off or leave it in your locker. The temptation is too great.

9 EAT OR BE EATEN

You’re more than likely sharing accommodation with a bunch of other freshers. Remember, things arent like at home. If you leave a bag of crisps in the cupboard overnight, they wont be there in the morning. The freshers flat is kind of like The Hunger Games: survival of the fittest. So if you want to keep something from being devoured, maybe keep it in your room. But remember you left that chicken under your bed or else youll have a whole new set of problems.

10 DON’T MAKE FUN OF YOUNG FINE GAEL

No matter how easy it is, or how much a student politician looks like he is begging for a punch in the face, try to stay on their good side. Unfortunately it is these people who end up running the country a few years down the road. As a wise man once said: keep your friends close and your enemies closer.