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How to survive your first year of uni

It’s likely that you’ll be filled with mixed emotions when you walk onto campus for your first day of university. Everything’s brand new – from the environment to your classmates. You probably haven’t experienced such a dramatic transition since you began high school, so it’s perfectly natural to feel overwhelmed. Here’s our guide to tackling this different world and fast-tracking a feeling of familiarity.

Throw yourself into it

Sure you’re the new kid on the block, but everyone’s new, so don’t be afraid to get stuck into the orientation activities during OWeek. Find an activity that appeals to you and head along. It might feel weird to go to an event on your own, but remember there’ll be heaps of other people doing the same thing. It’ll give you the chance to meet first year students.

Camp with classmates

Some students take the opportunity to go on a first year camp. These camps are usually associated with your faculty, so you can meet people who might later be in your classes. According to Deakin University commerce student Charmalee, heading off on commerce camp was a great experience. ‘I met heaps of students, some of whom I still keep in contact with today. Other first year students were in the same boat and wanted to make the most out of their experience,’ she says.

Deakin campus

'I met heaps of students, some of whom I still keep in contact with today. Other first year students were in the same boat and wanted to make the most out of their experience.'

Deakin University commerce student

Choose a lifestyle

For the first time in your life, you get to decide how your weeks play out. Do you want to move into a sharehouse with some friends? Or are you happy to stick with your family for a bit longer? You could even move onto campus and have the full uni-life experience. Most universities offer on-campus residential services that provide accommodation and an opportunity to meet local and international students. Plus it’s pretty handy to roll out of bed and arrive for a lecture a few minutes later. But there’s no need to make a drastic change unless you need accommodation. There’s enough new stuff happening in first year without adding moving house into the mix.

Join a club

No matter what you’re interested in, chances are there’s a university club filled with like-minded people. Whether it’s associated with your course, or it’s of an extra-curricular nature there’ll be something that piques your interest in areas including politics, sport, drama, culture and more. University clubs will almost certainly have a healthy dose of socialising alongside their activities. They may even offer a yearly trip or competitions to enter. And if you feel particularly enthusiastic, you could volunteer to help with the running and administration of the club.

Get a flexible job

Chances are you’ll have enough time in your week to pick up a part-time job. The key is to choose something that’s not going to interfere with your timetable. Casual jobs in restaurants, pubs and retail stores provide good opportunities to get regular shifts that can be amended each trimester as lecture times change. You can also look into the jobs available on campus. Tempting as it can be to cash in at work, try not to overcommit and leave plenty of time to study, too.

Know where to get help if you need it

No one expects you to make a seamless transition into this new life stage. If you run into challenges, you’ll find plenty counselling, chaplaincy, academic guidance and medical facilities at your disposal on campus. If you experience financial problems, learning difficulties, or personal stuff, your uni will be able to offer support.

For more information about the student life at Deakin University visit

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