The ultimate first year survival guide

Rounding up orientation week advice

This is how to have a successful Queen’s experience.

It’s September already, and while I’d rather be diving off the pier, we’re instead diving headfirst into Orientation Week. 

In the spirit of O-Week, here’s a recap of the most important information first-year students will need to be successful during their time here at Queen’s.

Beating the freshman fifteen

Freshman fifteen is a well-known phenomenon across all universities. Being told you’re going to move away, live on your own, and gain fifteen unwanted pounds isn’t exactly comforting to hear. However, there are ways to avoid it.

The truth is, the ‘fifteen’ doesn’t come from junk food—it comes from the amount of alcohol most people consume during first year. While I won’t encourage underage drinking, there are smart low-calorie drinks that can help with the worry of weight gain.

Local, Socialite, and Cottage Springs are all vodka sodas ranging from 55 to 99 calories. This can beat out other options like Budweiser or Heineken, which can rack up to 150 calories per drink.

Second, if you’ve had the same eating habits for most of your life, the food choices you make relatively should stay the same. The dining halls really do provide proper meals. While they may not be the most prestigious dinners you’ll ever get, they have healthy options like salads, fruits and vegetables, and protein options. Eating from dining halls helps to avoid using too much fast-food-based Trade a Meals (TAMs) or flex dollars.

Getting Involved

Intramural sports and clubs like debate team, The Journal, and Model UN—shoutout the fact I’m basically doing an unpaid promotion right now—are great options for meeting people and exploring interests.

I know it’s scary to put yourself out there, but involving yourself not only builds connections with friends, but allows you to explore your interests, develop hobbies, and maybe even try something you’ve never tried before.

The Queen’s community is so welcoming and, frankly, always happy to have new faces join teams and clubs. Take the jump and get involved—you won’t regret it.

Signing Leases

Coming from someone who had the worst living experience possible in the first half of second year, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of the information I’m about to share.

Yes, it’s recommended you sign a lease by October or November. However, I highly advise you to truly get to know the people you’re planning on living with before you sign the lease.

Discuss living styles: do you like a quieter house to study, or are you a serial partier? Do you like having your own space and a smaller number of people, or do you like having people around and a larger set of housemates? Are you an early riser or a night owl? Quiet times, parties, friends staying over, and cleanliness are all important facets to think about.

There are also multiple student-run social media pages that act as resources to find and chat with people about off-campus living, including Facebook group chats, Queen’s housing listing websites, and advisors to guide you in asking the right questions.

Managing Your Workload

Managing multiple assignments at a time can get overwhelming fast—especially during exam season. My best piece of advice is time management.

I live and breathe my calendar.  Once you’re done reading over all your syllabi, write down all important due dates on a calendar—not a virtual one—and set it up by your work desk. That way, you’re reminded about upcoming deadlines every time you work.

If you’re really worried about missing deadlines, write down the upcoming deadline a couple of days earlier than it actually is. You’ll trick your brain into doing it early, and if you forget about it, you’re still in the safe zone and won’t suffer a late penalty.

With multiple assignments, get the smaller ones done as soon as you find out about them. Don’t push off a discussion post that will take you 20 minutes, because suddenly you have four others due, as well as two essays.

Try your best to put some time into larger assignments. If you do small pieces of each assignment in increments, you’ll never have too much on your plate at one time.

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