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Welcome, first years! Summoning every distant memory of my first year of university, I muster a sum total of: astonishment at the mere magnitude of the campus, pondering why nobody ever seems to be in a rush to be anywhere, rating subjects based on the relative weight of textbooks, timing precisely the walk from Redfern station to arrive at your first lecture at precisely 9:00am (factoring in a coffee detour) and discovering that it’s possible to alter your timetable so that you can routinise sleep-ins for the next few years.

Bliss!

There’s no week like o-week, but now that every o-week balloon is deflated and every tent dismantled, this embryonic stage of UNIfication is over and so starts your three or four year degree (five if you want to operate on animals, seven on humans). You might finish semester without a fingernail to your name, but you’ll emerge on the other side relatively unscathed granted you keep a few things in mind...

Firstly, don’t be an inert student. If you only attend university for classes and lectures, you're missing the rainforest for the twigs. As your mind defrosts from the post-HSC-void, be energised at the prospect of a whole university’s resources at your fingertips. Various stakeholders in your life have probably been using very vague words to describe how you should be at uni: “engaged”, “active”, “involved”, so on, ho hum. But how? you ask. If you’re athletically inclined, start at Sydney University Sports and Fitness and join a sport, either competitively or socially. Alternatively, you can join the Food Society, Chopsticks Society or the Chocolate Appreciation Society. If you seek a happy medium, one of the other 200+ societies and clubs will surely be fitting. Some universities are very serious. The University of Sydney is no such place. Just because you didn’t start at usyd as a French-speaking pharmacist with a fascination in fencing and photography, doesn’t mean you can’t finish as one.

Secondly, something you should consider definitely not being is disorganised. Don’t not buy the textbook. Don’t start your essay the day before it’s due. And don’t succumb to the common misconception that stuvac is enough time to cram thirteen weeks worth of knowledge. Unlike school, there will be no deafening alarm bells if you find yourself falling behind, so try and stay on top of your studies, set some achievable goals and start preparing head of time. Approaching the onslaught of exams unprepared is like arriving at the gate right as the plane takes off. It’s almost surgically hurtful. You’re joining a uni renown for having inspiring teachers and extensive services to help you out. You just have to recognise when you might need help and be proactive in asking for it.

Finally, don’t forget that uni is not a means to an end, but a means to a beginning. Uni is a clean slate- a chance to embrace new escapades and rekindle old interests. It also sits at the intersection of two very important times in your life, so don't be too short sighted. Not mixing equal parts of fun with equal parts of constructive endeavours is a recipe for disaster. Find out what’s integral to your where you want to be on the flip side of uni (further studies, graduate jobs, etc). For example, if you're studying business like me, apply for internships and international opportunities. If you sole intention in life is to be a hipster, then university affords the perfect opportunity to throw yourself whole heartedly into protesting against the mainstream, seeking out organic foods on campus and indulging in alternative music in Manning Bar with your indie posse.

Like thousands of others before you, at usyd you’ll have the opportunity to become an enthusiast or aficionado in any niche that you choose. Prime Ministers, Nobel Laureates, astronauts and royalty have walked the hallways you will soon frequent. Even the creator of wifi went to usyd. Avoid the few highly disadvantageous traits outlined above and whatever you want to do or achieve, Sydney will assuredly be a great launch pad to the rest of your life.

Good luck!

*Guide not conclusive.

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Everything you ever wanted to know about uni but were too afraid to ask....
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