Are you prepared for university life?
Received that acceptance letter? Looks like all those long hours of back-to-back tuition classes and extracurricular activities have finally paid off. Now that you’ve made it, make sure you’re all set to begin life as a university student. We’ve got your back – read on….
If you’ve chosen the relatively well trodden path of tertiary education, there are probably hundreds of questions, thoughts and feelings running through your mind. After the initial hustle and bustle of congratulatory and well wishes from family and friends (along with the not-so-subtle hints of high expectations), reality starts to set in.
For the first time, your whole day is no longer planned out by your parents; your schedules are your own to make. For many, it also means leaving behind everything you’re familiar with for the great unknown. We’ve all seen it in the movies and while it was great entertainment, we know deep down that university isn’t really going to be about a group of cool people randomly bursting into a perfect pitch song with coordinated dance moves. So then, how can we prepare for university if we’re not even sure? Well, just like we do the three “pats” before we walk out the door (keys, phone, wallet), here are some “pats” to check out before you step into university.
Food and its budgeting
Finding food isn’t really the issue, for Malaysians as a whole love to eat. As such, eateries are everywhere, from local to foreign cuisine. The problem comes with balancing the food budget. Making a food budget and sticking to it would help ease unnecessary strain on your pockets. Buying ingredients and cooking during the earlier, less stressful weeks (who knows? You might even discover a hidden passion for cooking!) would help as it leaves more money for the stressful exam-nearing weeks when all you want is a quick-bought meal so that you can maximise studying time. (Note: Instant noodles three times a day can give your bowels nightmares.) Also, remember to steal a few of your favourite recipes from your parents, aunt or grandparents. A familiar dish helps ease homesickness once the initial excitement of being independent fades off and you find yourself thinking you would give up everything just to have one more bite of your mom’s cooking.
Some universities plan out your schedule for you (lucky you!); however with others, you have to plan it on your own (yay to being an adult?). If you’re doing it on your own, ensure you’ve checked the deadlines on when you’re allowed to add/drop a class and that you meet the pre-requisites. There are always university staff available to assist you with the selection so if you’re unsure, ask. They have to be polite so you’ll never be able to tell if it’s a stupid question, but then it means you have nothing to lose. As time passes, you might find that certain classes aren’t that interesting. You might even feel that you could afford to skip a few tutorials. Don’t. Someone once said, “Paying for university and not going to class is like paying for a 5 star hotel and sleeping on a park bench.”
Changing is growing
Plan your future, but it’s okay to change it. If you’re set on what you want to do and have a clear path forward, that’s excellent. If you’re not, don’t dwell on it too much as you’re just at the beginning of your journey. It will sometimes seem daunting when everyone around you appears to have everything sorted out while you’re still unsure about a concrete path to take. Life is full of unexpected challenges and university life reflects that. If along the way you find another path or opportunity which ignites that fire within your soul, go for it! Do not restrict yourself to one course of action just because it’s convenient or the norm.
Friends and activities everywhere
If there was ever a time to try everything, it would be during university. Join any club or activity that catches your fancy—give it a shot to see if it’s something you want to get involved in. It is no time to be shy—in fact, everyone else is new and feeling a little shy, too. Make new friends, introduce yourself to complete strangers—especially in your lecture rooms as they would be valuable when you need to compare notes or catch up on missed ones. People are what will make university enjoyable so be a good friend—and remember, being kind costs nothing.
Although this should go without saying, it’s going to be said anyway. Always, always, be careful and do nothing to put your safety or other’s at risk. Even if you’re staying on campus, avoid walking alone after dark—have the campus security on your phone and inform your buddies on your whereabouts. For many who’ve suddenly found themselves experiencing life away from home, this new freedom breeds carelessness. If you’re going out at night, stay in groups and make sure everyone gets home safely. Always watch out for one another.
Take the good and the bad as they come
For many, university experience will be the best and worst times of their lives. There will be great triumphs (perhaps excellent grades or representing the university in an event) and devastating losses (it could be the end of a relationship you thought would last forever, or a fail on that one subject you needed in order to graduate—horrors!). If you’re faced with disappointment, always remember to keep moving forward—it may seem hard at first, but whatever it is you’re facing will pass. You win some, you learn some.
So make sure you’ve got all these “pats” noted down and you should be (hopefully!) a little more prepared for your university journey. Enjoy your experience at university, and don’t forget all the people who helped you get there. That’s right, don’t forget to Call.Home.Often.