Picture this: Brisbane

I am a frequent visitor of Brisbane as my university is located at the heart of this small but charming city.

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Five Lessons I Learned the Hard Way

Everything is new and exciting. I’m sure everything will be okay. New to university, new friends, new subjects (now called ‘units’), new clubs… simply put, a whole new world.

However, the reality is: I am a first-year.

I am a Freshman. Read: young and definitely naive.

Soon enough reality hits. University is a big, scary place full of strangers that you may or may not like. That’s not news for you though ’cause you probably hated and still hate a lot of people in high school or dislike colleagues at work. The difference is that people are always rushing off to get somewhere or trying to pretend they’re not lost. It has buildings that have secret alleys and shortcuts to the unknown or perhaps you just forgot to get a campus map from one of those orientation tents because you were too busy snatching all the freebies (like me). The gigantic buildings have letters and numbers as names, elevators that will take you to the fifth floor when you’re running late for your first tutorial in the third floor whilst although that was devastating enough, nothing beats a clueless staff member who complains about the super competent elevator only to do nothing but walk out and use the stairs instead. Despite these less than delightful incidents, there are five simple yet without a doubt invaluable lessons that I would not have learned any other way.

1. Bring an umbrella. Always. Never forget. Ever heard of Queensland as the Sunshine State? Yeah, that’s a big fat lie. Of all the three days of my orientation sessions, guess how many days it rained? Yes, you guessed it right. Three. And when I didn’t have to be in uni, Mr Sun suddenly appears and says, “Hello World!”

Note to self: Weather is unpredictable. Weather forecasts are unreliable. And what else? Sh&t happens – so deal with it, princess! Special thanks to my ever prepared, slightly over-protective mother who shouted with much conviction and certainly a command, not a request: JULIA, BRING AN UMBRELLA. I’m glad I did. Don’t you just hate the saying “Mothers know best”?

2.  A jumper is a must-have. Sitting in a lecture room is like visiting Santa Claus in his icy cold home. Or if you want to be shivering whilst listening to someone babble for more than an hour about things that may or may not be vital for your future like I did, then forget I said a thing.

3. Do not rush out of the lecture room. Take all the time you need or else, well it’s also okay to trip. Julia, just buy new comfy non-slippery shoes ASAP to avoid humiliation in the future.

4. Find your people or if you’re lucky, your people may find you so be open-minded. Making friends is daunting at first but it starts with a simple “Hi, I’m Julia” and then it’s either they’ll start talking and never stop or I’ll start talking and realise that they’re not interested in having a conversation with me. Either way, it’s best to try because if I never try then I’ll never know.

5. Public transportation can be a pain in the bum. Contrary to popular belief, there are things beyond our control. We can imagine and create so many amazing things, just look around you, the smallest object in your room is there right now because someone experienced a light bulb moment. But we can’t control when this magnificent invention will stuff up. There I was casually listening to music, dozing off a little and surprise surprise.

This train will be terminated. All passengers must vacate this train.

PANIC. NOW. PANIC. PANIC. PANIC.

The next train to Gold Coast will arrive in approximately two minutes.

OKAY. BREATHE. NOW.

Yes, university is a big, scary place and it might be seen as a test-run for the real world.

There’s a lot to learn and discover but who knows, maybe being young and naive has its perks too.

What has university life taught you?