Welcome, potential class of 2016. Come in, make yourselves comfortable. Pull up a chair, or fold down your cinema seat, as the case may be. Watch out, the floor’s a bit sticky!
By the time you actually get round to reading this you’re probably half-way through fresher’s week and you’ve just found this paper in one of the 27 free canvas bags that were thrown at you over the course of the last few days, underneath an inflatable crocodile that you don’t quite know how you came to possess.
So, while you regain spatial awareness, I will perhaps rather prematurely dispense some of the wisdom I’ve accumulated over the last two years. I will of course read over this in two years’ time and realise that I was/am just as clueless as you.
1. Dealing with the stereotype
Don’t feel like there’s a stereotype you have to adhere to. You will find yourself getting angry with nosy taxi drivers when they ask what you do and you say you’re a student and they look at you like you’ve just vomited in the back seat. To some people, with proper jobs and mortgages and mother-in-laws, students are complete arseholes with an inflated sense of entitlement and a drinking problem. Of course, some students are complete arseholes with an inflated sense of entitlement and a drinking problem, but in reality it’s not a stereotype anyone can really afford to adhere to anymore. Most students I know put in a solid 30 hours a week in a call centre being shouted at by the general public to pay their own way through their degree, so when you get hit with that ‘you know nothing of the real world’ look it can be quite annoying. You can deal with this in one of two ways: defend your decision to remain in education by pointing out that you could just well be the person who will one day solve this country’s economic and social problems, and you need all the training you can get, or you can just do what I do and say you work in I.T.
2. Livingstone Tower lift etiquette.
There is no Livingstone Tower lift etiquette. Despite there being four lifts (elevators, for our international readers) in operation in Livy Tower, they seem to operate in shifts, whereby three of them sit at the 14th floor eating donuts and only one is actually in service. This gives way to what can often be a fun game of lift roulette. Some people stand in the middle of the foyer, within running distance of all of the lifts, whilst others will riskily choose one and hope their gamble pays off. Then there are those who go all Sherlock and press their ear to the doors to see if they can sonically work out which one is closest. These people are completely mental and should not be approached.
As you can see, getting a lift at Strathclyde is an art form. My advice to you is to become ruthless and adopt a ‘survival of the fittest’ approach to getting in a lift; alternatively, to buy some of those hand/foot suction pad things spies in films have and just scale the building.
3. Navigating the library
The library is your friend for several reasons. In the winter, when exams are approaching and heating is expensive, spending a day studying in the library rather than at home is economical as well as educational. Library is always warm and never damp; I love Library. But, there are times when I hate the library. For example, when it’s 8.30am, and I’ve just got there after pulling an all-nighter to get an essay finished that I know won’t get finished anyway, and I crack open a Red Bull. I think I’ve subtly opened this Red Bull, until a librarian appears out of nowhere, like bloody Beetlejuice when you say his name three times. ‘You may only drink clear liquids in the library’, I’m told. By that reasoning, you can whip out a bottle of Smirnoff and no one will bat an eyelid. If any of you first years would care to test this theory, please do let me know how you get on. You also can’t eat in the library, the cruellest rule of all. However, use the pocket munching skills you picked up in school and you’ll be fine.
4. Love what you do
My final piece of advice is to simply throw yourself into your course and to university life and make the most of it. When you were in high school, and your parents and teachers said ‘these will be the best years of your life’, they were lying. I refused to believe that the best years of my life would the ones in which I had spots and couldn’t legally drink alcohol. University won’t be the best years of your life either; they will be amazing, but they will only lead to more amazing things. However, university will be the place where you realise that being smart is actually cool, not always being right is inevitable, and learning can actually be fun. Rather than being told to memorise facts and pass exams, you’ll be challenged to think outside the box, and even if your ideas don’t always work, you’ll be rewarded for taking the risk. Finally, if you’re about to dedicate four years of your life to something, make sure that you love doing it.
As you can probably tell I’ve kept my first editorial fairly light hearted, and for good measure I flung in a few clichés at the end. Serious existential analysis of serious things will begin in the next edition, but for now, go forth with your inflatable reptile and enjoy your week!