Surviving Campus: How to prepare for your first day of University

Your first day at Uni can be very daunting – new surroundings, unfamiliar faces and the fear of the unknown – especially, if you are at one of the bigger universities such as Rhodes, UKZN, WITS or UCT.

I remember being nervous the night before my first day of Uni, I didn’t know what to expect. But when I got to my campus, I saw many familiar faces from my high school and tuition classes, so I naturally felt more at ease.

If, however, you are attending a University/College that is foreign to you and in which you are unlikely to bump into any friendly faces, here are few tips to help you prepare for your first day:



Download a map of your campus
You can usually find a map of your campus on the University’s website or if you received an orientation pack, it is probably somewhere in there. Go through the map the night before to familiarize yourself with the layout of the campus. Now, you don’t need to study it or memorize it – just snap a quick photo of the map and refer to it during your first days at campus.



Don’t be afraid to ask for help with directions
Sometimes, the map of your campus is not a detailed map. It may only contain the names and directions to certain buildings on campus, but have no info pertaining to lecture room numbers etc. Once you find yourself in the correct building, just enquire from a staff member/security guard/friendly student about the room that you are looking for and they will surely help you out.



Never, ever sit in the back rows of a lecture theatre/room.
The worst thing one can ever do is sit at the back of a lecture theatre. It shows that you are nervous, lacking self-confidence and in some cases, it may even be perceived as disinterest. Now, I’m not saying that you should sit in the first row but gravitate towards the centre of the room, it is the perfect spot.



Its’ okay to have lunch on your own – don’t starve yourself just because you have no one to eat with.
During my first weeks at campus, I was afraid to have lunch by my lonesome. I thought that people would judge me and assume I’m weird or have no friends just because I’m having lunch on my own. But after a few weeks, I realised that I’m not going to starve myself just because I’m afraid of what people might think of me. Whenever I was forced to have lunch on my own, I would find a grassy patch, an empty table in the cafeteria or a chilled bench and setup shop. I usually plug in my earphones (sometimes, I won’t even have any music playing), have a slice of my sandwich in my right hand and be playing temple run with my left hand.



Do not be overwhelmed by the magnitude of course material or the thickness of your textbooks.
When I first the size of my textbooks, I died. No, really, I did. My Accounting 101 textbook was probably about 800 pages long, and I have never had a textbook longer than 100 pages. It scared the shit out of me. But over time, I realised that there only certain chapters we need to know and not the entire textbook. So chill out, you will be fine!



Don’t allow lecturers to scare you with their ‘This course is difficult, you have to study every day to pass’ banter.
Lecturers make up shit. That is the truth. They take advantage of first year students – they know that first year’s will believe anything they say because they don’t know how campus works yet. Don’t fall prey to them.
Yes, it’s true that you have to work hard in order to pass – but no, you don’t have to study for like 4 hours every day. As long as you go for lectures, take down notes and understand the sections and concepts being lectured, then you are good to go. Just make sure you focus and can study when it comes to test and exams.


I hope these tips were of some benefit to you! I wish you all the best with your academic year and remember you can have fun and be a brilliant student, there are no rules against that. Good luck!


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