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A Guide to Surviving the First Semester of College

Updated on November 9, 2017
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Pursuing a rather tedious subject called law, Priya Barua still tries to find time to follow her passion for blogging.

I survived, and not quite surprisingly, so did my batch mates (the others in my graduating class.) With the usual post-college scars like cracked skin, limp hair, insect bites, and a whole lot of mental pressure, everyone, most gladly, went back home. But in four months you learn a lot. You especially learn how to survive. Some learn quicker than others of course, but nonetheless, everyone learns at some point in time.

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In four months, everyone learns to survive.
In four months, everyone learns to survive. | Source

1. Know Thy Seniors

You’d be surprised how much this can help. The notes and hand-me-down projects are there, but more than that, seniors will guide you through your most emotionally tumultuous period of college. They’ll guide you on how to approach your academics, what to expect from teachers, where to go to buy what, which books to refer to or more importantly, not to refer to, what internships to do, which committees to join; all of which is neither exclusive nor exhaustive.

2. Jot Down the Food Joints

Being a committed non-vegetarian in a largely vegetarian place can be stressful, especially when your cravings are a step more than KFC buckets or McDonald’s fillet burgers. I admit I was stupid not to have done that earlier, because, as I found out later, and by later I mean a week before sem ended, was this amazing non-vegetarian place just opposite to my college, famously called the galla, which served up some amazing chicken dishes in their dirty plastic plates and even dirtier ambience. But then again, desperation can make people do wonders. Don’t be like me; be smarter and find the nearest food joints, jot down their specialities and be a happy child for the next as many months you will be in for the semester.

3. Take Cognizance of the Extra Help

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You know the Xerox guy or the woman who comes and cleans your room? No? Well, change it. Get to know these people, and trust me; it can make life a lot easier. This is one tip that was handed down to me by a senior, and quite truly, it helped.

4. Befriend the Possible Toppers

No, no, not simply because of their notes but let’s admit it…partly because of it. But then again, they have such great personalities, such intellect — sitting there in the first bench jotting down notes with a level of dedication and sincerity that you could never hope to cultivate, and you simply just want to become friends. Go for it, befriend them. While they might not necessarily pass down their notes, they will help you when you decide to bunk the next class.

5. Always Carry Money With You

Like always. When you’re going to the library or when you’re going to the mess; when you’re going to the bathroom or when you’re going to the airport (and especially if you have a minor card), it becomes even more imperative that you carry cash with you. Otherwise, things can become very nasty. Kidding. When you get out of your hostel room, there are all these things that decide you enter your conscious mind like how you want to eat that chocolate or how you need to buy toilet paper (something which you’ve been procrastinating for over a week now), so it becomes very convenient if you have cash on you. You can easily slip to the nearest store and buy your essentials!

6. Learn to Google Like a Pro

Google can save a lot of time.
Google can save a lot of time. | Source

At the beginning of the sem, we are handed this long list of recommended and prescribed readings to score a smooth 25/30. Me, the gullible fool that I was, told myself that I will read them all and produce the finest notes anyone has ever seen. Few weeks down, and I smartly switched to Google to produce the finest notes that everyone in the batch has seen. And with that, I learned to navigate through Google; cut, paste and repeat. While I greatly encourage you to read the recommended books, I would also like to encourage you to work smart…if you’re pressed for time.

7. Find People to Connect With

Easier said than done. Even living in a hostel can dangerously isolate you from making friends. When I say friends, I don’t mean random people you hang out with and eat dinner and laugh over stupid things, but people you can actually connect to on an emotional level; people you can trust and people you can get along with without going back later and feeling miserable about yourself. This might perhaps be the most difficult task in your entire sem, but take your time — assess the people around you and ultimately you’ll find them.

8. Schedule a Timetable

This is important when things get low, and believe me, they will. Having a timetable keeps you going, helps you not to get homesick and gets work done. Scheduling a time for yourself, as those fancy management gurus call it Me-Time, is even more important – a period of an hour or so in the day when you don’t do anything but the things you love doing the most.

9. Get a Laptop

By laptop, I mean, a proper, functioning laptop. Not some random metal scrap which randomly switches off for no particular reason. I have witnessed three-four laptops crash in front of me, and that too, in such crucial moments, it’s terrible. And laptops are so important in college that I cannot even begin to tell you. So I would suggest investing in a good one before coming to college.

10. Keep Some Emergency Money

You never know when that bloody ATM in front of your college will run out of cash and you have to pay this emergency fee within the next few hours, and all the people around you are such deathly paupers that you feel uncomfortable to ask them is when you use to extra cash that you keep separately for such emergencies. It’s a necessity, and I would advise you to keep few thousands in a different box.

Which of the above seemed most helpful?

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Feel free to comment on what helped you survive your first semester.

© 2017 Priya Barua

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