5 things I wish I knew in first year

It’s the end of O-week 2016, and this marks my first year anniversary since arriving at the ANU. At the commencement of my second year, I look back on the advice I received and learnt. Here are five things that I wish I knew at the beginning of my first year.

1. YOU need to determine your university path  

Whether it be study choices, extra-curricular’s or the people you hang out with – you, and only you, should be making these decisions. In first year, there were volunteer causes I joined and people I hung out with, because I wanted to be seen as ‘doing the right thing’, or enrolled in courses on the back of advice of it being “useful” for my career and my degree. Many of the ‘lows’ of my first year occurred when my heart wasn’t in what I was doing. If you’re not genuinely passionate about something, then why are you doing it?

2. It’s ok to not be the best at everything

Coming from a small country town, I had that “big fish, small pond” syndrome that many students face when coming to uni. There are many amazing people at university and the way to support your own growth is to find your niche – something you enjoy and that you are good at.

At the end of my first year I had joined the Science Communication Society and landed a job at Questacon. Finding things you love to do not only makes you value yourself, but you also learn to appreciate other people’s strengths more as well.

3. Take your time to appreciate all aspects of the ‘university experience’

University is such a rare and special time in your life, where you’ll be able to study, join clubs, work jobs and be a part of an enriching community. Getting involved, meeting people and utilising the internship and exchange opportunities at ANU is something that you’ll never have again – take your time and enjoy every bit of university.

4. Maintaining balance is important

Across campus, you often hear the words, 'GPA', 'exams' and 'stress', yet we're almost equally likely to hear about the importance of maintaining 'balance' in our lives.

In tip #3 I mentioned at university we should get involved with as much stuff outside our studies as possible – it’s all about variety. Too much of the same thing, whether that be work, study or play, will make you stagnant and unproductive at everything else you do.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from university, it is that it is okay to ask for help.

Everyone at university has moments where they’re struggling and it’s important that you seek help from those around you. ANU has brilliant support mechanisms in place for struggling students. The ANU Counselling Centre, Student Academic Assistance, and Access and Inclusion are there to look out for students going through difficult times whilst studying.

University is a time of growing and self-development, and that’s why it’s important that we learn valuable life lessons. And with the support, opportunities and people of the ANU, there’s no better place to learn these lessons.