Uni Life

Survival guide to uni

surfer on beach

I want to preface this blog entry by saying that people in Australia are meant to be speaking English but the truth is that they speak something that resembles English that’s called ‘English that is abbreviated unnecessarily often’. Unbeknownst to even the classiest of linguists words like arvo, avvo and parro sneak into your vocabulary and one day you wake up saying “oi, that’d chew so much petty hey” when referring to a car that would drink a lot of petrol. Much in the same manner I now only refer to university as ‘uni’ and thus ends my very long explanation of my blog entry title.

When I came to Australia 1.5 years ago to commence my university degree, not only was I scared of the fact that I was at university, but the fact that I would be attempting to string together research, based on pre-existing research, that was meant to be academically and intellectually sufficient in a second language frightened me unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I probably lost 20 kilos and 100 hours of sleep during my first semester due to excessively stressing out over oral presentations that were 3 months into the future. So what’s the solution? The easy option would clearly be to drink but since historically that impairs your thought-process and ability to speak I had to come up with a list on how to survive, which has worked for me and I thought I’d share it with you guys:

  • For your first tutorial you should walk in like you own the place. I don’t mean this in a cocky way. Command the space, say hi to people and chat to whoever sits next to you and when you get the opportunity answer the tutors questions. The precedent that you set during that first class usually lasts the whole semester. If you start out being too shy to raise your hand it’ll be hard to find your place in the class later on. Your opinion is important; speak up!
  • There are geniuses in this world but doing well at uni isn’t necessarily about being smarter than everyone else. The most important trick I’ve learned about getting good marks is to learn what your lecturer and tutor are like. Handing in quality work is obviously important but it’s such a great shortcut to quickly assess whoever is teaching that class and tailor your work after that. Professors are human and all humans are unique and therefore want different things.
  • Find your passion within the subjects you’re taking. There is nothing more detrimental to your education than work that seems pointless. If you can find a way to link your education to real world problems that speak to you then half your work is done for you.
  • Find a healthy relationship between school and life. No one comes all the way to Australia to sit inside all day long. Surfing and outdoor life is my way to relieve stress and I encourage you all to do the same. There is no essay anxiety that a weekend in Byron Bay can’t ease.
  • Don’t pretend the audience is naked during a presentation; it’s a fluke technique. Each to his own but I’m a communication major that’s studied communication performance and the technique is a challenge on its own in my opinion. Choose a topic that you enjoy learning about and you will find that you enjoy teaching your class about it as well. Knowledge is power.
  • Choose silence over ‘uhms’ and ‘like’s’, it’ll make you look more professional and appear less nervous.
  • Surround yourself not with people that are exactly like you, but people that make you feel confident and people that compliment you on things other than your looks. University is not high school and no one really cares if you were the dopest dude on campus when you were 16.
  • Buy books second hand and only if you really need them.
  • In closing; when in doubt I firmly believe that the answer is always option C. This has not been scientifically proven nor does it really help you with a short answer exam but I thought I should throw it out there.

Uni is designed to help you thrive and if you should ever find yourself struggling, know that a hundred other people have gone through the same thing before you and it’ll be okay. At the end of the day uni in Australia is about having a blast and leaving wiser, kinder and more open-minded.



– Frida



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  • Guðlaugur Ellert
    August 18, 2014 at 11:49 am

    Awesome article, I enjoyed reading that. Can´t wait to try out your surfing advice to cure essay anxiety !

  • kimberley
    August 24, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    great read, frida, thank you!