A Guide For Those Of You That Are New To College Life

kevin dooley
kevin dooley

You know how it goes – typical scared n00b 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 Thought Catalog. 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 say 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 about 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’s too many people in too small a place.
  • Leave them frats behind after the first few toga parties, and get your ass to an actual bar with some real beer.
  • 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 STOP. 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 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 who has to fend for himself/herself. This involves a lot of time by yourself.
  • Most life lessons are learned while feeling lonely.
  • Get involved in campus life. It’s the best way to make your university your new home.
  • 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 for you, unless you’re willing to reciprocate the effort.
  • Introduce yourself to people in class (y’know, 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 to-be weekly breakfast indulgence. Or another cute guy.
  • Friendships can change. Or digress. Or even turn a friend into family. Keep hoping.
  • 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.
  • Everyone has his or her own agenda. Everyone is at university to make something of themselves. Don’t lose out because of someone else.
  • It is very likely that you will spend a lot of your time with yourself. Treat it in a positive way.
  • Failing? Confusion 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 your own thing. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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