2016 was the year I started university at UniSA, and it was a whirlwind of new experiences, friendships and knowledge. There were things I was told, and the things I wish I was told. Here are the 20 things you aren’t told about your first year at UniSA.

1. You will get lost

Everyone has been in this unfortunate situation, so don’t stress! The UniSA campuses are big and, well, confusing! Download a map of your campus to your phone, and memorise where all your classes are, as well as close bathrooms, cafes and any other helpful locations. Otherwise, carry a printed version and mark all important spots!

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2. You are going to make friends

It is only natural to stress about meeting people at university, after leaving those from high school. The best part is, you’re going to make friends. The people in your degree are likely to have similar interests to you, and there are many clubs and social events at UniSA to get to know them. Go on pub crawls, get-togethers and meetings and you’ll make a new buddy or two.

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3. Go to O-Week

To give yourself the best start to your uni journey, O-Week is the place to go. It’s perfect for meeting new friends, exploring your campus and finding out what UniSA has to offer. The event is full of food, games, photos and, of course, information!

4. Student discounts are awesome

They’re so good they’re giving grilled cheese a run for its money. That nifty little student card will get you discounts left, right and centre. If you aren’t sure whether there’s a discount available, ask! No shame in being a broke uni student. Spend that spare dough on necessities (read: beer) or, ya know, save it.

5. To drive or to bus?

Knowing the local parking locations and rules, as well as local transport options will be incredibly beneficial, saving you time and money. Particularly if you are switching between two campuses, it helps to know what will be cheaper, faster or more suitable.

6. The UniSA jumpers are really, super comfy

Some people (cough, me) went to uni convinced that uniwear is lame. Oh how they were wrong. So, so wrong. The UniSA jumpers are basically a big bear hug that you get to wear. They’re baggy, warm and comfortable, and best on those cold uni mornings when you’d rather be in bed.

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7. CO-OP will save you $$$

The CO-OP stores on UniSA campuses sell everything from textbooks to headphones to gift ware. Buy yourself a membership and receive discounted prices on everything – the membership cost will soon pay itself off!

8. USASA will as well!

The Brekky Bar, cheap second-hand textbooks, $1 ramen and free coffee and tea … yes please! Need I say more?

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9. Buying lunch gets real expensive

Wandering into Rundle Mall or the nearest Aroma café is tempting when your stomach is rumbling, but it adds up! Set yourself a weekly ‘food’ budget, of how many times you will buy food, or make it all at home. 10-15 minutes in the morning might save you $10-$15 dollars per day.

10. Coffee is a fair-weather friend

I know what you’re thinking: I need coffee for those late-night study sessions. No, you need sleep and a study schedule. Coffee is a great perk up in the morning or before that 2pm lecture, but try not to overload. You are stressing your body and will find it harder to concentrate and work at a high efficiency level in the long run.

11. Go for those internships

If there is one thing I recommend, it’s this. Experience provides a competitive edge, and the first year workload will leave you plenty of time to dedicate. You’ll also get a sneaky peek at what your future career could look like. I undertook an internship at Yelp this year and it was an incredible experience – I developed so many skills and learnt a lot about the industry. No regrets here! Talk to your tutors and find out how the uni can help you!

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12. You gotta take notes

I cannot stress this enough, except to say I wish I took more notes this year. Taking notes, especially by hand, helps your brain retain and process information, and gives you a handy pile of references later down the line, without having to go through all the lectures again! You don’t know what you miss, so stay focused and take notes – you can nap later!

13. There will be some stories involving alcohol

Pub crawls, birthdays, parties … alcohol is often present at social events and there will be both great and cringey stories involving alcohol. Remember to drink responsibly, and keep yourself safe, so the stories stay great. If you don’t drink, that’s okay too! Many students don’t drink and they still enjoy these events!

14. Make friends with your tutors

Your tutors are pretty cool people. They’ve worked in the industry, and they’re there to support your learning. Say hello and get to know them. They might give you useful career advice or become a handy industry contact.

15. Joining clubs is a great idea

UniSA has so many clubs to choose from, there’s sure to be one for you! Joining a club helps you connect with people who have similar interests, develop your teamwork skills and feel part of something bigger. It’s a great way to achieve things such as volunteering or taking up leadership opportunities. On top of that, it’s an easy way to make friends!

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16. Not enjoying your degree? Change!

You’ve been set on one career your whole life but when you begin studying for it … you aren’t that interested. No biggie, just change your degree. People switch degree all the time – sometimes more than once! Find what you like and are passionate about, and follow that path. UniSA have plenty of support services to help you. If you aren’t enjoying the degree, you won’t enjoy the career.

17. Dress down, not up

The standard dress code at UniSA is casual. Too dressed up and you will look out of place. Think neat, comfy and casual.

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18. The social events are pretty damn cool

Movies under the stars, pub crawls, balls, Halloween celebrations – UniSA knows how to socialise! These events are safe and often include cheap food and drinks. A guaranteed good time? Yes please!

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19. It will be challenging

In more ways than one. You will be juggling your studies with friends, hobbies and possibly work – fair to say you’ll be thrown in the deep end. You might dislike your degree, or go through a major friendship or relationship change. There is plenty of student support from UniSA, for all kinds of issues.

20. It will be fun

For all the downs there will be ups. Uni is all about you, so spread your wings and find yourself. You will laugh, make memories and learn new things every day. You will make friends and you will get to know yourself. With so many choices and opportunities, university is what you make it. Embrace it!

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