So all your cramming paid off, your parents even think you were studying all along; welcome to UCC. You even survived the alcohol soaked holidays on some cheap Greek island that I cannot spell, well done! Now you’re ready for the next step of your academic career; learning how to actually survive college.
You know how they say power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely? This is your life for the next few weeks; drunk on your new found freedom (and the paint stripper Aldi markets as vodka), the next month or so will be a whirlwind of lectures, new friends, nights out, late mornings and learning to cook using more than the toaster. It’s exciting! And wonderful! …And a bit daunting, right? That’s ok; your friendly neighbourhood Features Editor is here to guide you through the big transition.
First things first; where you are living is your responsibility now. For many of you this is your first experience leaving your parent’s house and living in the wild with your peers, provided you were lucky enough to find a place to live. It’s easy to go mad and forget that mammy isn’t there to clean up after you, but welcome to adulthood. Sorry there isn’t a party, but look on the bright side, you get to clean up your own dishes and wash your own clothes! Be good to your housemates. If you’re lucky, they will become lifelong friends. Don’t be that guy that uses the last of the milk and doesn’t bother to buy more. If you finish it, replace it. If you borrow it, ask first. Pro tip; when you get to second year and realise that you can’t stomach cheap own-brand vodka anymore, don’t throw it out. You can use it for cleaning glass, or adding half a cup to your washing will get rid of that mildew smell off clothes from the wardrobe you didn’t know had damp in it.
There is an American concept called the “Freshman 15” where every college students gains 15 pounds in their first year of college. And for some, that is true, but many also lose a lot of weight in college from not eating, eating crap or “eating healthy” by substituting fruit with Bulmers. Despite what people might tell you it is possible to be relatively healthy in college, you just have to know how. Here are a few tips from my years of experience; you cannot survive on pot noodle, but they are handy to have as a snack. There is no such thing as chicken served pink, that’s just salmonella. Club cards and own brand foods are your friend. A bread roll is not dinner. When reheating pizza, use the oven or the grill, not the microwave! That just makes it soggy. Frozen vegetables are about a euro a bag in tesco and last way longer than fresh ones, so you can still eat them when you find them in the freezer in six months. Keep a few Berocca in the house; it’s a great cure for a hangover.
Clubs and societies are the best place to start if you’re anxious about making new friends. What better way to socialise than a room full of people with the same interests as you? Every year clubs & societies days are hosted, usually during the second week of lectures. This is where clubs and societies set up stands with freebies. You can sign up to everything you want, now they just scan your card and you’ll get emails keeping you up to date with each club or society. You’re a fresher; this is the year to go out and be obnoxiously social. Sign up to everything, ask questions, go to events and make friends. You can always unsubscribe from the emails later.
Woohoo-what better way to blow your parents cash than by going out and getting crunk in a new city where you don’t know your way around?! Seriously though, it’s important to take care of each other this week. Have a buddy system with your friends & tell them where you’re going, and with whom. Text people who got a different taxi to confirm if they got home okay. Don’t leave your drinks unattended. Always plan your way home and keep enough money for a taxi in a separate pocket so you don’t accidentally spent it on shots. Freshers week is a marathon, not a sprint – don’t go out and make a disgrace of yourself Monday and Tuesday, only to skip Wednesday and Thursday because you’re too “sick”(did you buy that Berocca yet?) or completely broke.
Remember that freshers week is the official start of term so you do have lectures to attend. College is some of the best fun you’ll ever have if you do it right, but you’re also here to learn and this is the perfect week to learn how to haul ass across campus while hungover to attend a lecture you have no interest in. It’s important to find the balance between work and play; who wants to wake up in April to the realisation that their grades are in the toilet and now they have to go to CIT?
UCC is a wonderful place, but it gives you what you put into it. Get involved. Be sociable. Run for class rep. Join a club. Write for the Express! Explore who you are. I’m proud to say UCC has shaped the vaguely dysfunctional person I am today and I hope it brings you the same joy. Hopefully you survive first year and return next September; that’s when the real fun begins….