By Derek Baker
Entering university can be pretty overwhelming. No matter where you’re coming from, be it right out of high school or after taking a break from academia, starting at the University of Calgary is an intimidating task.
Anxieties can rise as the people in your life bombard you with well-meant, albeit excessive advice. With that in mind, here are eight tips to make the transition into university life as smooth as possible.
DON’T be “that” student
It’s important to be an attentive student, but remember to remain courteous to your peers. Asking questions can help clarify a concept, but if your class hasn’t moved past slide three by the end of the lecture, there’s a problem.
More importantly, if you already know the answer to the question you’re about to ask, don’t interrupt lecture just to appear smart to the professor by asking a “good question.” People see right through that and will begin to collectively cringe when they see your hand fly up. Likewise, don’t take an opposing stance in a class debate simply to play devil’s advocate. The reason why no one is choosing to support this side is because the argument is shitty and problematic.
DO order from Tim Hortons properly
This tip will save your life, so pay attention. As with most students, coffee will become an essential component of your diet. The U of C has many caffeination stations, the busiest usually being the Tims trifecta in MacHall.
In order to ensure you are not taken out by a cranky mob of sleep-deprived students, line up in the correct place. The empty space between the cashiers and the line is for people to pass through, not for you to waltz right up and ignore the queue behind the pillar. Yes, the line is that long — accept it now. Get in, get your double-double and get out.
DON’T be late for lab
Science students, listen up. It’s not the end of the world to miss the occasional lecture or two, but skipping lab is blasphemous. When they say lab begins at 8:00 a.m., be ready and prepared in class 7:50 a.m. at the latest. Your weekly schedule will revolve around doing experiments and writing lengthy reports. Your lab skills are probably garbage, but that’s okay — just make sure you leave lots of space in the “sources of error” portion of your writeup. The last thing you want is for your report to be marked late or not marked at all because you couldn’t make it on time.
DO enjoy your time at university
Many people take longer than four years to finish their degree, and that’s okay. University shouldn’t be a race to get out. Though academics are important, they shouldn’t be the be-all end-all. Take a moment to enjoy where you’re at right now. Life is about balance. Find your balance of sleepless nights spent studying or getting plastered if that’s what you’re into. After all, the world’s a pretty scary place. It’s much less daunting to avoid real adulting by hiding in school. But hey, if you do manage to finish your degree in four years, maybe you and I can cross the stage together.
DO Find a way to get to class while staying inside
Calgary can get pretty fucking cold. However, the -40 C weather is never an excuse to not show up in this work-obsessed city. After making it through the perils of Calgary’s snowy roads while commuting to school, do yourself a favour and stay warm by navigating the tunnel and +15 system. You too can make it from Engineering Block F to Murray Fraser Hall without forming snotsicles in 10 minutes — if you run.
DON’T spin the Zipper if you’re in engineering
A staple of U of C lore, the metal statue between the lecture halls in Science Theatres holds magical powers, granting students good luck when spun before exams — except for engineers. Apparently, you guys thought it’d be funny to take it apart, but you couldn’t manage to put it back together again and the original artist had to fly out and fix it. It might be just a campus legend, but the Zipper is still worshiped by many students across faculties during exam break. Furthermore, though it shouldn’t have to be said, don’t stick your arm through it while it’s spinning.
DO find your niche
There are a lot of students here at the U of C. There are probably a number of other people who like the same weird things as you do. If you don’t know what you like yet, now is a great time to try different clubs. Heck, you don’t even need to commit to the club to sign up — we’ve all joined the ski club just to get the membership card with discounts around town, even if we don’t ski. Nevertheless, clubs are one of the best ways to meet like-minded people that you actually will want to hang out with.
DO sell your soul to The Gauntlet
Gauntlet volunteers (one pictured here) are the coolest and most remarkable students at the U of C. They are the most attractive individuals and without a doubt will become the most successful people post-graduation. A Gauntlet volunteer receives deliciously nutritious pizza Tuesday nights and participates in our witty banter and debauchery while copy-editing. They are perfectly poised to tackle any challenge the first year of university can throw at them. At least, this is what we told ourselves.