There is a common sight in every college campus throughout the country come the first week of lectures and tutorials. The majority of students, having arrived several minutes early, will file neatly and orderly into their respective lecture halls and classrooms, chatting and getting to know their fellow students in the spare time they've afforded themselves.
However, once the doors have closed and the classes begun, there will invariably be one first-year student found, hurtling around the college halls. Their eyes will be crusted with sleep; their mouths smeared with the minty residue of a too-hasty, last-minute tooth-brush, and the rest of their face will be contorted in a flurry of panic, as they skitter from one closed-door to the next, desperately looking to find the classroom that currently holds the introuctory lecture they're supposed to be attending. They will eventually burst into the appropriate room and, having awkwardly blurted an apology, they will stumble toward the only free seat - which is always somehow the furtherest seat from the door. While doing this, they will accidentally hit one of their new course-mates in the head with their bag. This fate is inevitable for at least one person per college course.
However, should you wish to get your college life off to a more-composed start, then simply follow our steps below on how to ensure you start off on the right foot.
1) Talk To Whoever You Sit Beside:
Your experience of introductory tutorials will either go down one of two roads. The first: you will enter the room, see a group of friendly looking new faces, seated around tables, amicably chatting to one another. You will instantly feel relaxed and wonder why you had ever felt nervous in the first place. Having settled into one of the free seats, you will be welcomed into the conversation, which continues frothily and irreverently until your tutor arrives.
Or, when you arrive at the room for your introductory tutorial, you will be greeted by a group of people sitting awkwardly in such a profound silence that you can feel it resonate in your very bones. If this is the case, don't be deterred, everyone is as equally desperate for someone to start talking. Simply say hello to everyone and just try strike up a conversation with whoever you end up sitting beside. People will either join in, or will just start chatting among themselves. In all likelihood, you will end up making some friends that will stay with you throughout college in your very first class. Just pluck up the courage.
2) Get Involved From The Start:
The entirety of your first year in college is basically designed with an awareness of how monumentally overwhelming, exciting and intimidating the whole experience can be. Most people will be entering into courses - or even heading to colleges - where they won't know a single other person. Given this, societies, clubs, and individual courses are all at pains to try create as many opportunities for socialising as possible. Go to as many of these events as you can, you will quickly develop your own friend groups - and then realise which societies and clubs hold your interest or not. But the best way of discovering this is to say yes to as many things as possible in the first few weeks of the year.
Here's where we suddenly take a hard turn and start to sound like your parents. Essentially everyone, when starting college, has no real idea how money works. Most people will invariably end up having to get a part-time job to support themselves through college, but there are a few simple ways to make sure that you aren't living hand to mouth for the entirety of your time in college.
- Look for them yellow labels. Most supermarkets will reduce soon to expire stock each day, and close to closing for daily produce such as bread. Reduced to clear food is your friend, it will sustain you. Though please - and I speak from personal experience - avoid 'reduced to clear' supermarket sushi; with that stuff you're basically just playing a sort of middle-class Russian Roulette with your own insides.
- Make sure you avail of every single possible student deal and discount you have to hand. While many places don't offer student discounts, make sure you find out where does and focus your attentions on them. Wear a sandwich board around your neck with 'I'm a student, please offer me some 10-20% off these products' around your neck if you have to.
4) Learn How To Cook:
This is sort of an appended point to the above. Aside from the fact that it is nutritionally cataclysmic to try survive off little more than beans and instant noodles for four years, being able to mysteriously conjure up vaguely interesting meals out of a few simple ingredients will instantly cement you as something of a wizard among your friends. You will also save a fortune if you're able to bring in lunches and make decent dinners so that you don't feel the need to pay heinous amounts of money whenever you need a nutritionally balanced meal.
5) Live Off The Big Societies:
Each college will have their own large societies which - even if you are not necessarily interested in them - you should be more than interested in what they have to offer. The biggest societies and clubs are typically allocated the largest budgets by the college, and therefore their events will typically be the most well-stocked with food and drink. Fancy sitting through a debate about the legacy of Nietzschean philosophy through the 20th century? Of course not, who in their right mind would. But are you interested in the accompanying 'nibbles and wine for attendees' alluded to in the invitation? You better believe it. So, you will sit through that debate so as to get your hands on a fistful of ready salted crisps form a large sharing bowl, and a plastic cup of tepid white wine.
6) Back Up Your Notes:
For the love of god, back up whatever notes you end up taking. Be it in classes, tutorials or when you're preparing for an essay, it can feel nothing short of an apocalyptic disaster should your laptop shut down midway through writing an essay. For the love of all that is good and pure in this world, continually save anything you are working on, and email yourself copies of everything you write, or save them to a cloud server.
If you are still taking notes with a pen and paper, then firstly, what on earth is your problem? And secondly, maybe you could scan them or something?
7) Ensure You're Travelling Cheaply:
Travel can end up being one of the largest expenses for any student. However, if you avail of Iarnród Éireann's fantastic student fares, you'll be saving yourself a small fortune each time you travel. Whether you're traveling home to visit your family or just planning an impromptu trip with your friends for Reading Week, you'll know you're getting the best deals, wherever you're heading, with Iarnród Éireann's student fares.