When I was 17 years old I got accepted into the University of Canterbury. This in itself was a cry worthy moment and my excitement really began there. My excitement easily overruled nerves leading up to the move date in February 2014. I was packing up my life and moving from Wellington to Christchurch. Lucky for me I have a super nice Dad who drove me all the way there. So we hopped on the Picton Ferry and road tripped all the way to Rochester and Rutherford Hall in Christchurch. I remember it hitting me when I arrived the fact that I was away, I knew nobody in the hall and how big a change it really was.
The matter of the fact is, you’re not alone in this feeling. For mostly everyone in the hall everything was new. The people and the place were so out of the way but it was just time to embrace new. I remember initially being so shy and feeling so different from everyone around me. Phoning home crying saying it wasn’t for me but i’d try for another week.
I think if I were to give tips to my younger self it would be this
- Pack lighter haha don’t bring everything you own.
- (this is something i did do) If you were always known as something in your old town and you didn’t like it then be the type of person you’ve always wanted to be in this new area. Nobody knew me at the hall and I had the opportunity to not be prejudged by situations from the past or anything it was great. (I hid my fangirlness for basically the whole year haha).
- If anything the best thing to do when you change areas is throw yourself into everything. Aka go to clubs day and sign up for everything and anything that you pay interest too. I think I signed up to about 20 clubs on clubs day (a bit of an over kill). But i’d say that is what kept me sane. Being able to have a choir that I attended or an Arts Club to go to events to was super fun. Being an active member in University culture is awesome.
- Stand up for what you believe in. This is also something I did really well and i’m really proud of myself. I was 17 when I started University meaning most R18 events were off ground for me for about 3 or 4 months. I never allowed alcohol to be apart of my year in a major way. I put my foot down and concentrated on all the things that were important to me.
- Sign up to the Health Centre on the first day, make use of the Recreational Centre and learn your campus. I remember being so overwhelmed with where everything was but after awhile once you circle the campus and go to lectures on different ends of the are you’ll get to know it well.
- Remember academic help is there and shouldn’t be frowned upon. The initial move from High school level work to University work can be a bit of a shock. This being said, don’t be scared to ask for help. I honestly should’ve gotten help in the first few weeks before even beginning my first essay for Media. In my degree all my subjects were subjects I had never taken before and were super new. So when I received my first essay back from Media and it was a D I was immediately thrown back into not feeling good enough. Never fear if this happens, honestly the University of Canterbury set me up with so much academic help that I never failed again. I also learnt there’s nothing wrong with failing because it helps you learn more. Honestly though at the time I told everyone that I was the biggest failure and i’d never make it. Now i’m third year and have 4 papers left of my degree woo!
It’s hard looking back at first year because I remember at the time I hated most of it but the good moments really made it worth it. Starting something new is never easy but allowing yourself a positive headspace (even if you have to fool yourself into it) is the best way to start. Pushing yourself into talking to people in your first lectures will help you so much in the future and signing up for a club will put your foot through the door for new friendships. If you put the effort into making friendships in the first weeks it will make it so much easier for the beginning of the year. Don’t feel pressured though, do everything at your own pace but this is just advice.
If you’re worried about a new city or town being overwhelming cite out relaxing spots you can hang out in your area. Get to know your local cafes or takeaways, local parks and keep an eye out on eventfinda to see what’s happening nearby! If it’s not going to cause you harm then say yes to things that maybe you would’ve said no to in high school. Your first year is just a time of figuring out what is you and what isn’t. Trying new things and testing new waters is awesome and it’s such a great time too because everyone else is too!
If you need further help email your student services or Facebook message clubs or whatever communication you can. Honestly it’s going to be great for you! I wish you the best.
If you’re starting University this year comment below with any questions or thoughts. For those of you who have already done your first year comment your best memories or tips for others! If you’ve never been to University and it’s something your’e interested in knowing about comment below too! Remember University isn’t for everyone but it is a wicked experience that’ll bring you closer to so much diversity.
Thanks for reading!