10 Things Learned & Experienced, Processed, Stored- The Hume-esque College Guide for Students of All Ages

For those of you who occasionally read and, in the best case scenario, actually follow this blog- I owe you an apology for the lack of regular blog posts. In my defense, Canada and the second semester of college happened and Winter in Land of Ice Hockey and Maple Leaves (so much for abandoning stereotypes) really lives up to the hype. Rather like the Accenture slogan– High Performance (i.e. extreme cold) Delivered. As for the title of this post, that’s just me trying to prove, cleverly, that one year of An Introduction to Philosophy (and college tuition) has not been wasted. Now, for the real, regularly repeated wisdom which, as always, I would advise you to consume with many teaspoons of salt:

1. Talking to your roommate is a great investment, even if you don’t have very much in common or simply dislike one another, because a year of constant conflict or quite possibly complete silence is not worth it. It’s important to keep all channels of communication open so that you can avoid behaviour which you know riles up your roommate and vice versa. Keep it peaceful, silly! Speaking from experience, a good roommate is a rare thing and can, at the strangest of times, be a brilliant sounding board or just someone to have fun with. If you have a good one hang on to him or her- who knows you might actually choose to live together the following years. On a larger scale, try being nice to other people on your floor, particularly if they come from a different cultural, ethnic or socio-economic background from yourself. In addition to have a few more people who are willing to tolerate your company, you’ll learn so much from each other since you live in fairly close quarters.
Alternatively you could go Game of Thrones and be unnecessarily ruthless, competitive and manipulative or adopt the Lord Voldermort I-only-work-alone/ I-am-supreme-and-care-for-no-one approach. May the odds be ever in your favour, only really they won’t be.
2. The Weather will influence how you act, quite possibly in a negative way if you aren’t used to it. The Canadian winter nearly destroyed me – alright, that’s an exaggeration because it takes more than a bit of wind and snow to get to me (insert evil genius laughter here). But I did get moody, sad and unwilling to work from time to time. If you’re used to extreme or moderate cold, then moving somewhere tropical and adapting to that climate may well be one of the biggest challenges you face. Don’t underestimate this and allow yourself time and space to adapt.
Individual X: (Researches universities in a completely unfamiliar climate. Thinks “Ha, I can do this in no time”)
Academic/ Social Post Mortem Report suggests that overconfidence and failure to adapt caused the painful decline.

3. There will be many days when you will not want to stumble out of bed and get to class. The weather can be a good excuse to not do so, but if you live in a warmer climate fear not- your caffeine ridden brain will conjure up the most ridiculous excuses for you not to do so. Consciously overrule that voice in your head and get up and leave for class because not only are you keeping up with your readings and labs, the structure of your time table will allow to create a routine which will while gradually adapting to a newer physical, social and academic climate. Take full advantage of the office hours of your TA’s (teaching assistants) and professors- don’t wait till they go on strike or the Apocalypse.
4. Speaking of which, homesickness is a legitimate fact of life at a university residence, particularly as a freshman, regardless of whether you moved across continents or lived two to three hours from where you do currently. The fact is that this may be the first time you’ve lived alone which can be difficult to manage at times, but for the most part will be a tremendous amount of fun. The suggestions made in Point 1 will go a long way to alleviate this.
5. Building a network of people who you enjoy hanging around and grow to care about, assuming they do the same, is essential. Do this by joining any of the plethora of organizations on campus or on Residence if you have the option. Commuters often find this difficult to do, so count your blessings and take advantage of them. Don’t waste time with what one can call fair weather friends. A social life never killed anyone, for the most part anyway.
6. Exercise. No, really do this regularly because it makes you feel better (consult high school biology text book on endorphins) and also helps structure your day. I didn’t and…well…sigh.
7. Realize that the people you interact with come from all across the city, the country and quite possibly the world, depending on the institution you’re attending, therefore their opinions may differ quite significantly from your own but they remain valid. Try and find out what makes your friends tick- it might not be what you expect. While you may not actually intend to offend anybody, acknowledge that this will happen and ensure that you go and apologize when required.
8. Don’t herd, which is a source of great comfort for individuals in a foreign environment. It’s the easy thing to do, which is why you shouldn’t do it.  Leave your comfort zone and try and build friendships with people who are culturally different from you because like I mentioned earlier, there’s so much to learn from them. Incidentally, a friendship based on common interests and experiences goes much further than a friendship that exists only because of a shared ethnic, social or economic background. If someone is like you on any of those counts and you actually happen to become friends, treat the former as a bonus not a driving force.
9. For God’s sake, don’t get romantically involved with someone simply because of the colour of their skin. Don’t wake up one morning and decide to only date individuals of ethnicity A- its like being in a relationship with someone simply because they’re rich. Fetishes are scary and offensive to the person being pursued, because really, we’d all like to think we’re more than just a face.
10. Find reasonable, affordable ( on a student budget) places to eat if you’re living on dorm food and have no other means of cooking for yourself because you will get tired of/ bored with it after a certain period of time.

Abandon the comfortable state of hibernation/ school induced coma that you’ve been in and go search for your university experience. Don’t be too judgmental because most people are not like you.

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