How to survive your first term

From getting your eight hours a night, to actually keeping track of what you spend, Grainne Sexton offers tips on how to make it through Michaelmas term.

When you’re a bright-eyed teen stifled in school, grappling with exams and being tossed round high-pressure social situations on a daily basis, college seems the place of dreams. You’re going to study a subject you love, surrounded by a bubble of like-minded people. You’ll read through texts in the library with gusto. You will live with flatmates who “get you” and are willing to sit down for a communal dinner together once a week. It’s easy to forget, however, that this is also a place of survival and graft, where students can quickly become overwhelmed by their own independence and expectations. The unfamiliarity tinging everything — a new city, new social circle, new course of study —  can prove disorientating and, in some cases, paralysing. With that in mind, we have put together a no-nonsense guide to not only surviving, but ultimately enjoying, your term.

Rest and Relaxation

Sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep. You dream about it when you’re dozing in lectures. You promise that tonight will be the night you go to bed before midnight.The stereotype of the wan college student gulping coffee is an all too familiar reality and there’s no denying that us young people certainly undervalue the effects of rest and relaxation. As a Fresher, essay deadlines and exams are still a pinprick on the horizon, therefore you have no reason not to establish a solid sleep routine. Trust me, everything truly is better after a good night’s kip.

Money, Money, Money

There is no denying that university is expensive. From buying books and shopping for food to splashing the cash on nights out,  your bank account will develop a habit of suddenly emptying itself. As boring as it might sound, budgeting is your new best friend. Sit down the old-fashioned way, with a pen and piece of paper, or for the more tech-savvy amongst us download an app such as Wally or Mint. Stick to old-fashioned common sense, never go grocery shopping whilst hungry, buy a Leap card and get to know the restaurants and shops around Dublin with student deals.

Friends Forever?

Fortunately for us students, university differs from school in a multitude of ways. However one commonality between the two is the difficulty of navigating the social minefield and attempting to form good, lasting friendships. Don’t stress if you have yet to “click” with a group of like-minded people. Similarly to school, it takes emotional investment, time and effort to truly get to know others. Join a society or sports club for something that fascinates you, whether that be geology or Christianity or orienteering, and push yourself to commit to it.

Take it Slow

Many arrive to college with hopes of cultivating a certain degree of personal growth and, in some cases, carrying out a complete reinvention. It is true that university really is a place to throw aside your inhibitions, stoke up new interests and enjoy experiences which will embellish the fabric of life. However bear in mind that you are going to be here for the next four years and, contrary to popular belief, change will be far from instantaneous. The group of like-minded bosom buddies you’d hoped to meet right away might not pop up until second year. That course you’d always longed to do may not be on the curriculum for another few terms. Your first essay probably won’t garner the result you secretly hope to receive at the end of your degree. As a Fresher in Michaelmas, it can be hard to lower the sky-high expectations you initially sailed in with. For now, right now, your only responsibility is to soak it all up, seize the day and savour every moment.