What I Wish I'd Known as a Fresher

By Lucy Napthali Lucy is a fourth year UNE student, studying a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English, Writing and Film and Media Studies. She likes bad horror movies, dinosaurs and odd history facts.

When I first came to UNE as a fresher in 2011, I was walking in blind. I came from a very small town in Central New South Wales, where my graduating class was made up of only nine people, six of whom had been together even before pre-school. I had never been to Armidale before, never attended a university open day, and the only person in my family who had ever attended university had done so as an off-campus student while she held down a full-time job and raised two children, so she had no advice to give me on university culture.

When I awkwardly made my way into my college’s car park (after getting lost for ten minutes trying to find the entrance) I was going in with no idea of what to expect. It was an absolutely terrifying experience, and while I’d like to think I’ve muddled through okay in the three years since then, I often wish I’d had some small piece of guidance to make that first year run a bit smoother. So, for any freshers that are walking in my terrified and unaware footsteps, I offer these lessons that I’ve learnt, in hopes that they’ll make your first year that little bit easier…

1 - Everyone is intimidated by someone. And that someone is probably you. That person that you want to make friends with but are too scared to approach because you think they’ll reject you? They’re probably just as terrified as you. So down a cup of cement (or vodka if you’re so inclined) and just go and talk to them.

2 - Be here for the right reasons. Why are you studying that degree? Is it for you, or for someone else’s benefit? And if it is for someone else’s benefit, does that upset you, or make you more determined? Make sure your study reflects your values as well as your desires.

3 - You don’t need to buy every textbook. Network with other students and figure out which books you really need. You’d be surprised how often prescribed texts are available at the library because everyone just went ahead and bought the textbook. And if you must buy the textbook, use a price comparison search engine like Booko to find it; you can often find second hand books for 20% of the original retail price on there.

4 - If you live in a college, keep your door open as much as possible. You’d be surprised how many great afternoons and friendships are started because someone has walked past your open door and noticed your Star Wars posters/gaming console/art supplies/questionable music collection.


6 - Safety pins are invaluable. Zipper replacements, last minute costumes for the Stro, altering loose fitting clothes; at some point you’re going to need them.

7 - If you’re determined, you can cook just about anything using the combination of a sandwich press, a microwave and an electric frypan. Even a roast. Seriously.

8 - Take advantage of events. Check out the flyers, look on Facebook pages, read local blogs; you’d be amazed at what you can find happening on campus and in town.

9 - Get to know Armidale itself, not just the bubble that is the UNE campus. Where to find the cheapest wine, what time grocery stores are open, and the location of local swimming holes are invaluable information.

10 - People are essentially good, but that doesn’t mean somebody won’t steal your cutlery from the kitchenette.

De minimis non curat lex

Dare to Begin