University intake is in progress and soon first years will arrive with their new clothes and the latest kicks but little do they know what lies ahead for them. So freshers, as you pack your suitcases and leave the security of your parents’ home, ‘leave the nest’ to explore the world, here are the first eight pointers to help you along the way;

1. First impressions are everything
Passed outOf course you’re expected to have fun, but during Fresher’s week don’t have so much fun that you forget who you are. You don’t want to spend the rest of your university life being known as the person who woke up in a bin on their second day on campus.

2. Keep your friends close
A pivotal part of college life is the friendships you make along the way. “Be slow to fall into friendship, but when you are in, continue firm and constant,” taught Socrates. I think that one does not need a whole crew to be happy; having one or two quality friendships will be extremely beneficial. A support system that comes along with true friendships is vital in college and life beyond.Friends
Choosing friends can be tricky especially if you are painfully shy but it does get easier. You may relate with people in your group during orientation week forming friendships that last the test of time. Sometimes, you could even make friends through sports or even on the lunch line as you wait for your Chapo madondo at the cafeteria.I must point out though, that it is of utmost importance that you make good friends because this will affect the kind of experience you have in college. Therefore having deep meaningful friendships that provide support, shared values and where you can be yourself cannot be taken for granted.

3. Knowing your way around town is key
usiu libraryGet to know your new university town. Unions or halls reps will organize bar and pub crawls for first years, which will take you to the best student places around. It’s no harm to ask older students or graduates – or even non-students who live there – what places they recommend in the local area. The more places you know, the more fun you are to hang out with.

4. Join a university club or society
APSU-Track-and-Field-7Never underestimate the usefulness of joining a society or a club. University is full of amazing social clubs you just won’t find anywhere else once you leave – it’s like Brownies and Scouts all over again! But better! It’s a great way to meet people, to find hobbies or pick up new skills. Sign up to as many that sound interesting but be realistic with the amount of time you have and don’t forget you need to actually… You know, study.

5. Don’t forget your family
Graduation2012If this is your first time away from home you can guarantee that your parents will worry about you. Are you making friends? Are you enjoying it? Are you keeping up with assignments? These are things your parents want to know. Don’t forget to check in with them every now and then and let them know what you’re up to – though you can probably leave out the bit about waking up in a bin.

6. Check out your course reading list
A student at the USIU university at the libraryLook at what sort of things you’re expected to read. But don’t buy all of them! Some of them will be useful for different modules and some will only be useful for one. If in doubt, your tutors will be able to tell you which books are absolute must-haves for the course. It’s not expected that you’ll read them during fresher’s week, but it’s good to be aware of the content you’ll be studying.

7. Look after your stuff
fresher dormFresher’s week is a daunting time and as such it’s pretty much a free-for-all for thieves as students wander around in a daze. Make sure you shut your windows and lock your doors before you go out. It gets crowded at the fresher’s fair, so use closable bags and keep valuables out of sight. If straying away from campus, plan your routes and avoid the more dodgy parts of town.

8. Go to the fresher’s nights
Nairobi-WomenThe ball is one of the highlights of your first year – everyone will be there, so it’s a great chance to go out with your; club mates, room-mates, flirt mates, course mates and any other forms of mates you make. Not to mention that some fresher’s nights have some excellent sources of entertainment – think, dance parties, fancy dress, bowling, all sorts. Some Unis even have entertainment committees, you could join that to see what spice you can add!!

Look out for part 2 for more survival tips
By Muthoni Wachira