What a time to be alive! Most of you are now a few weeks into being at university and those of you who aren't, either this post will give you some useful warnings for when you start, or will simply be a small trip down memory lane!
Starting university is already exciting and stressful enough: new people, new independence, new drama. No matter how many videos you watch or blogs you read, nothing will fully prepare you for it. So, here are a few warnings and tips on problems you will most likely face within your first few weeks.
1. Workload is insane and staying on top of it is the equivalent of getting an acceptance letter from Hogwarts.
Your professors will dump enough work and information on you within the first two days to last you a lifetime. The first few weeks will be hard because a) you're not used to the workload, b) because of how you worked at school, you have this urge to learn and memorise everything that is handed to you and c) you're probably still coming down from Fresher's Week. The thought of dropping out will cross your mind at least three times during your first-ever lecture.
TIP: Take a deep breath. No one expects you to memorise all the information you're handed or to suck up all your notes like a sponge. Some lecturers will hand you 60 pages of notes and tell you to read them by the next day as preparation. Reading only the first 20 pages is sufficient enough to give you a ground understanding of what you're going to be taught that lecture. The professor himself will not be able to go through 60 pages of notes in one lecture, so you don't either. Skimming and making brief notes from them is sufficient enough.
2. Going to every party or event isn't possible.
You're going to find yourself on the verge of a burnout by the end of the first week, because you are going to anything and everything you're invited to. You'll be walking through campus and societies and clubs will be throwing pamphlets at you like they just had pay day.
TIP: Take it slow. You need time to sleep and time for yourself. It's normal to feel the urge to go to everything you're invited to, but if you're finding yourself wandering around campus like a zombie chugging coffee and energy drinks by the litre, maybe you want to take a breather. You're health is more important than being present at every event.
3. Red digits and overdraft aren't only a problem for shopaholics.
The life of a student is an expensive one. Course books cost as much as a weekend trip to London, buying good booze will require you selling your kidneys and, as mentioned before, clubs and societies will be trying to reel you in at every corner. By the end of the second week, you may find yourself looking at an empty bank account.
TIP: Second-hand or even third-hand course books are just as good as a brand new one. Many older students sell their first-year books at reasonable prices, but also check Amazon or other online suppliers. Sometimes they're even free online as PDFs. Cheap booze does the trick too, especially if you're only going to be drinking mixers. Most clubs and societies require you buy a membership, so try and see if they have "taster" sessions, where you can go free for one or two times, to see if you even want to really join.
4. Drama doesn't stop just because you finished school.
One mistake a lot of you will make, is believing that everyone is mature and drama is not a thing at university. The only difference from secondary school drama is that in university, everyone's a foot taller and has a far more expanded vocabulary.
TIP: As tempting as it may be, don't reveal anything too personal about yourself that you wouldn't want coming out within the first ten minutes of meeting someone. Give it some time to develop a deeper trust to people so you don't wake up one morning with your secret posted online for everyone to see. Undergraduates can be as harsh as the kids in school.
Speaking from personal experience, starting university is like moving country. You're surrounded by so many new people and activities that you just don't know where to start. The best thing to do is to take it slow and have a small taste of everything. Don't overwork yourself, because university is a place to discover new knowledge, not discovering new ways to trigger the quickest meltdown.
Hopefully these few warnings will make you a little wiser about what to expect when you start university or how to survive the remainder of it.