A N00b’s Guide To University

You know how it goes – typical scared newbie international student enters cool North American university all scared and shiny-eyed. Learns the ways of the world the hard way. Tries to make a semi-serious version of it on the internet. Hopes for praise and recognition. Real talk though – university isn’t easy. And for those of you about to enter the scary world of $100 textbooks, this list might just help make your life a dot easier. Or so I hope anyway.


  • No matter how far away you are from them, keep them close. Keep your parents (and other members you’re close to) updated about your life once in a few days.
  • If you’re an awkward turtle like me and can’t tell your mom you love her – tell her you bought her shoes/lipstick. She’ll get the message. Trust me.
  • Thank your parent(s) if they pay your tuition. They’ll know you value your education.
  • Their lives will go on without you. It’s not a bad thing.


  • It’s harder than high school because you’re the only one who can push yourself to study.
  • Nobody is going to chase you to get your shit done, so I’d suggest that you stay on top of your schoolwork at all times. Trust me, you’ll be able to enjoy university so much more if you don’t have to leave a party to finish that essay due the next morning.
  • Textbooks are $100 frequently. Or more. Just casually slipping it in there.
  • Most importantly – Cite. Even if you’re taking one word from somewhere other than your own head. Cite it. You’ll never regret it.
  • In case the above point didn’t clarify this enough – Research papers will come your way at least once in your university career. And you will not like it.

Fraternity parties

  • Only cool for a week. Tops.
  • Trust me when I tell you that frats have a very limited repertoire of fun things to do. And they get old. Fast. Beer pong gets sticky; you aren’t getting a boy/girl unless you are or look like John Stamos/Mila Kunis; and it simply boils down to “too many people, too small a place.”
  • Leave them frats behind after the first few toga parties, and get your arse to an actual bar with some real alcohol.
  • Unless you’re under the legal drinking age, and frats are your only source of alcohol. In which case, suck on your pacifier ‘til you’re legal.

Food & Drink

  • Pizza is the solution to EVERYTHING.
  • People do NOT like to be disturbed before their morning coffee.
  • A lot of people like sushi.
  • ^ All of the above should probably be in the Holy Texts to come.
  • Bubble Tea is the new ‘thaang’ too.
  • For people in Canada – Tim Hortons > Starbucks.
  • Whatever quinoa is, it tastes like feet wrapped in shit. But it’s healthy so shut up and eat it.
  • Bagels = Love.

A side note on Alcohol – I believe that the process of consuming alcohol is to drink until you’re happy, then CAN IT. I mean, do you really wanna put on heels and makeup for a night that’s only going to end in you either throwing up all night/passed out in a field full of mice? There will be a LOT of moments for you to get carried away with drinking. Indulge in some, pull back on the rest.


  • It hits at the most inopportune moments.
  • You will probably spend a lot of time getting used to being an adult. Especially one who has to fend for himself/herself.
  • This involves a lot of time by yourself.
  • Most life lessons are learned while lonely.
  • Get involved. Trust me, it really can go a long way, even if you don’t end up making any long term friends out of it.
  • Bright side though – you can listen to All By Myself and pretend this is a sad scene in a movie, as you look out at the rain/snow/leaves floating by. Or, y’know, be sad in the regular people way.


  • Are not gonna fall into your lap. I’ll be blunt here – ain’t nobody got time fo you, unless you’re willing to reciprocate the effort.
  • Introduce yourself to people in class (read: not creepily), go to that karaoke/sushi dinner your RA is hosting, or join the fucking yoga club if you have to, but do something. Put yourself out there in the smallest and the biggest of ways. Wink at that cute guy in the library. Smile at that chick with the cream cheese ‘stache. She might just introduce you to your weekly breakfast indulgence to-be. Or even another cute guy.
  • Friendships change. They go up, they go down. You can turn friends into family, or they could just fade away. Keep hoping. Move on.
  • There are some really diverse perspectives out there. Enjoy them. Appreciate them. Don’t hate ALL of them.


  • If you are leaving home to go to university, remember that home will never be the same again, but in the best way possible.
  • You will never be the same either. Be open to that change.
  • Everyone has his or her own agenda. Everyone is at university to make something of themselves. Don’t lose out because of someone else. 
  • They teach you to be selfish. It’s not always a bad thing.
  • Doesn’t mean you can be a dick. Compromise is key.
  • It is very likely that you will spend a lot of your time with yourself. Treat it in a positive way. Buy a good pair of headphones.
  • Failing? Confused about your path in life? Neon green dip-dye phase? Perfectly normal.
  • Be your own Jackie Chan to your Chris Tucker sometimes. It’s okay to do you.