Staying Upbeat

by / 27/02/12

How to ward off those varsity blues.

It’s 3 am. You stare at the computer screen with bleary eyes, surrounded by empty beer cans and noodle packets. Your essay is due in the morning, but you haven’t been to a tutorial in weeks. Welcome to the next nine months of your life. Luckily, your friendly neighbourhood student magazine has some handy motivational pointers for the tough times ahead.

Getting the routine back:

When the alarm goes off on the first day of class, don’t give in to the inevitable snooze-button impulse. Instead, try breaking the summer routine by establishing a fresh academic mindset.

Whether you worked night shifts at Burger Wisconsin for a month or had to have the boss’ coffee ready by 8 am, make it a rule to get your eight hours of sleep. Every night. No excuses. Predictably, you’ll pull an all-nighter at some point, but making sleep a priority will start your year off right and leave you refreshed, alert, and less likely to develop an insomnia-induced personality disorder.

Be prepared. Figuring out which books you need in advance and sourcing the money to pay for them (hello, course- related costs) will make you more likely to engage with your course material. Remember last year, when you bought the course reader three weeks late and sat through your tutorials feeling like a moron? Avoid the self-loathing by giving yourself the best possible chance at not failing that $1600 paper.

Make your first week the best week. Get to everything on time for that week. Make time to do your readings for that week. Eat healthier and exercise for that week. If you can get those habits right from the beginning, you’re more likely to stick to them when the academic going gets tough and 21st season swings around.

Disenchantment with your degree:

Not to be confused with work envy, this is the uncertainty that comes after you’ve confirmed your first classes. Should you have taken psychology? Do you really want to be a scientist? You begin to wonder if your degree is an accurate reflection of your interests.

Don’t feel guilty. Victoria doesn’t advertise this, but which courses you take are fairly irrelevant at the end of the day. First year is the perfect time to load up on interest papers, so don’t be afraid to try something a little different.

Use the Uni’s resources. Being a first year is the perfect excuse for badgering curiosity, so make an appointment to talk to your lecturers and tutors. Even if you don’t want to make a drastic change, discuss your doubts and get your questions answered.

Don’t despair. It isn’t too late to modify your degree if you have a last minute change of heart. The withdrawal date for trimester one is March 16th, so if you’re serious about switching, get in touch with your faculty ASAP and take it from there.

Work envy:

After years of exams and classrooms,
it’s natural to start thinking about the big bad world of full-time employment. Your summer job might have given you a taste for disposable income and the last thing you want to do is start living off of budget food brands for that glamorous ‘Uni student’ phase. If you’re having doubts about starting your degree, you’ll need a narcotics-free way of taking the edge off your first year of study.

Remind yourself that the job vs. study dilemma is a common one, but jobs are like pets—a lifelong commitment. Once you’ve got one, like it or not, you’re more than likely to stick to it because unemployment—quite literally—isn’t going to pay the bills. Going through university gives you a chance to develop personal responsibility. Heading straight to the workplace will throw you in to the deep end of professional responsibility, where your decisions affect other people. Instead of being saddled with the expectations of others, use VUW as a chance to learn how to take care of yourself.

Take advantage of the university social scene. When you’re sharing office space with Margaret the middle-aged Zumba enthusiast, you’ll start thinking about your last house party and wondering where your youth went. So this O-Week, signup to every club on campus and make new friends galore (vuwsa.org.nz/clubs/ clubs-directory/).

Freedom. University is an experimental time, when you can dye your hair purple and associate with shady characters while facing no serious social repercussions. Transitioning from high school student to full-time employee means missing out on years of tomfoolery and reforming your behaviour.

If you still feel anxious about the merits of varsity education, get in touch with the team at Vic Careers (victoria.ac.nz/ st_services/careers/). They can help set you up with a part time job that’ll fit around your study.

The stress:

The academic side of university is arguably the worst bit. Too many late nights spent footnoting and referencing is enough to make anyone run for the hills, and trepidation levels can rise.

Nourish yourself properly and get a sweat going. Though the benefits of fruit, veges, and exercise have been talked to death, it’s a scientific fact that keeping the body healthy will help to keep the mind healthy. Take advantage of the Farmers’ Market on Sunday mornings to stock up on cheap basics and go outside for a walk or run.

De-clutter. Clearing your desk isn’t just useful procrastination. Throw out the useless notes and scraps of paper to make your workspace a more ordered, less gloomy place to visit.

Get social. Note that it’s ‘social’ not ‘wasted’. Spending time with friends will not only lift your spirits but keep you grounded and give you perspective.

Know that help is available. If you’re feeling the heat, the friendly people at the Student Counselling Service are willing and able to lend a hand (victoria.ac.nz/ st_services/counselling/).

Good luck,

Love, Salient

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