Prove your humanity

Being stalked down in the parking lot as you walk to your car and weaving your way through a heaving mass of sweat-licked bodies—there’s nothing quite like the first few weeks of university.

It’s all become a haze for this dead-eyed fifth year. The bags under my eyes have become a permanent fixture and the triple oxygen instant energising eye mask that Santa stuffed in my stocking wasn’t infused with enough oxygen, quite frankly.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of first-years are fresh-eyed and I dream of consuming their energy. They chatter excitedly around campus, unfazed by the walking corpses of the senior students or the ghosts of PhD students that haunt our campus.

I drag aching bones that never quite adjusted to the number of stairs built across what seems like a relatively flat campus with feigned determination. They spring from one end of the campus to the other in happy confusion.

I had already consumed one or two or three too many Aperol Spritz, when my dear friend asked me to write some hot tips for first-years. The bitter exterior I had gathered around myself over the past five years to fend off on-campus merchants trying to hail me down for this or that oozed away, and I agreed with fervour.

So, my first hot tip for you doe-eyed, baby-faced first years? Be wary of the promises a drunker-you will make—though many of you likely know this already.

I’ve found booze particularly useful for the awkward social interactions my existence has demanded, so here we are at tip two already: spread your flailing social wings. There’s no place better than university, and although it seems insanely difficult to manage, there are ways to make it easier (alcohol, naturally, being the easiest. But sidenote: you can be kicked out of class for being “too drunk” and “disruptive”).

To begin with you can make class mates. Not only is it nice to gush or bitch about your tutor and wallow in mutual despair over a particularly heinous assignment, but there is a pile of studies that indicate social networks are better for your course weighted average.

Outside of the classroom there are a bunch of ways to get involved with other students. Join a club or a social sports team, or find other humans at the Equity Departments of the Student Guild. I met a lot of lovely flesh-bags at the Queer Department, who, like their comrades (Women’s, Indigenous, and Disabilities Department) organise events for students to network. I will also unashamedly advertise for Grok because being sucked into their blissful abyss occupied the better half of my undergrad—working with other student writers, editors, and designers is groovy (we mostly drink too many Aperol Spritz and complain about the state of the world and then write about it).

My mates also listen to me complain about the stress of competing deadlines, so let’s head into tip three: managing this. There isn’t one solution. I found gin and ciggys a potent combo for combating my stress (on a side-note, a spare hot tip if you will: you would be surprised about where you can smoke on our “smoke-free campus”, but I’d advise quitting before it becomes a crutch you can’t walk without). Other than that, I obsessive-compulsively organised myself into a diary. But the reality is that you will likely be overwhelmed at some point. So the hottest tip is to ask for help when you need it. Your tutors and the administration at large care about you and your education, and understand, to a degree, the challenges students face. If you need an extension, apply for one. Mind you, you need a legitimate reason (“I watched a whole season of Friends instead of starting this assignment promptly” probably won’t cut it).

Tip four: be opened minded. I was fresh out of starring in the latest episode of Kalgoorlie Cops when I arrived on campus and a hot-mess doesn’t come close to describing my perceptions of the world. University campuses are cultural hubs, and ours is no exception—from Pride in the Park to Pasar Malam, you will become a better person if you engage meaningfully with everything happening here (or at least some of it).

These are, for me, the most important tips; but let’s smash out some others:

  • If you haven’t yet, get your 2019 student sticker from student services, and your Guild membership sticker (which is free) from the Student Guild
  • To access the student wifi, enter your Oasis username and password
  • You don’t have to stand awkwardly outside your classroom waiting to enter if the room is empty (i.e. your tutor hasn’t arrived yet), you can roll right in and you’ll seem really confident doing it (power-play)
  • I still get lost on campus to be honest, but the “Lost On Campus” app is mildly useful
  • The parking gets more expensive the closer to campus you are (you need to download an app called CellOPark by the way); blue is the most expensive and green is the least, so be wary of this and catch public transport if you’re able (it’s better for our dying planet anyway)
  • The strongest coffee is at Common Ground, the best coffee (because of the naughties tunes blasting from their speakers) is at Vege Patch
  • Get to the know the Student Guild because they are there to represent you (they also have a variety of free services you’ll likely need at some stage in your degree, and they run the majority of coffee outlets on campus with reduced prices for students—but you’ll need that aforementioned sticker)
  • Take advantage of being a poverty-stricken university student with discounts (10 per cent off your iTunes account and your ASOS summer collection, among other things)
  • If you’re not happy with the degree you chose, change it; you were too young when the world told you that you had to figure out what you want to do with your whole life; I have a friend who tried five or so degrees over the course of three years, and she’s happier for it.

There’s probably a lot of other things I could tell you, but as I transition from being coffee-soaked to gin-soaked it’s time for us to part ways (fyi, there’s another hot tip here: get through the day with coffee, and then get to sleep with grog).

University is a learning-curve anyway. You’re going to make a lot of mistakes, and sometimes it’ll just plain suck, but you’ll have a lot of fun doing it.

In parting I offer this one last hot tip: don’t be a shit-cunt. This world sucks enough without a new generation of dumpster-fires coming to fruition. Treat others with the respect they deserve—I’m looking at you in particular #PooBandit (an infamous menace at Curtin, this poor excuse for a human left shits on bathroom floors across campus)—and contribute to making a difference in a world that makes people who are different hurt, because that’s not the world we have to live in.