University can be one of the most daunting firsts for a young adult. You have no idea what to expect, you don't what you're doing, and you don't know where the hell you're supposed to be. Everyone's figuring life out in their own time, making their own choices, and dealing with their own mistakes. Over the past few months we've learned that life can be a little easier if you reach for some helpful advice. So take the advice from 21 first years, who are going through it firsthand, right now. 

1. Get out of your comfort zone - Chelsea

Hell’s Hole photo by Daniel Jensen (@danielsjensen) on Unsplash

on unsplash

It's easy to hide behind everything that makes you comfortable, fall into the same patterns, and get caught up in work and studies. The important thing to remember is that you can't grow if you don't push yourself. Try to adventure a little and do things that scare and excite you. See what a little spontaneity can lead to.

2. Make friends that share the same interests - Kamrin

Jumps photo by Zachary Nelson (@zacharytnelson) on Unsplash

on unsplash

Surrounding yourself with new and interesting people is always important, and making friends in different faculties can expand your horizons. However, it is just as important to surround yourself with people with similar interests. Being around people who like similar things will make it easier to feel right at home, and be more comfortable in your surroundings. 

3. Go explore your new surroundings - Jacqueline

Desert Explorer photo by Evan  Kirby (@evankirby2) on Unsplash

on unsplash

University is a big move: you're in a new city with new people, and on a campus that is a totally different setting than you're used to. But did you know that some students can go their entire first year without even leaving campus? Take the time to explore and fall in love with the brand new city you've been given the opportunity to live in. You never know what sweet little spot, or friendly new people you'll meet and discover along the way!

4. Be vulnerable and open yourself up to new people - Josiah 

Making new friends is not always the easiest to do, and when beginning university, you don't necessarily want to leave all your old friends behind. A secret to submerging yourself in the university experience and making friends easily is to be vulnerable and open to new people and the experiences they offer. Don't be afraid to let new friends into your life! Once you decide to open up a little, making friends is a breeze... (although bringing food to share is also helpful).

5. Learn to go places alone - Alex 

Sunset at Monument Valley photo by Tegan Mierle (@tegan) on Unsplash

on unsplash

Being in university means you're on your own. You live in a new city, with new friends, and lots of things may feel daunting and scary. A quick fix to this overwhelming feeling is to grab a buddy and do it together—but theres another important lesson to gain. Learning to go places solo is a great way to become more confident and sure of yourself. Once you realize you can do it all on your own, you'll feel like you've gained a whole other kind of independence.

6. Don't worry about your TAMs or Flex Dollars - Tessa 

Queen's students know well that TAMs (Trade a Meals) and Flex Dollars are a whole other kind of valuable. They are the gateway to late night food runs, and your escape from bad cafeteria food. What many students don't realize, is that worrying about how many you have is a complete waste of time. Many students never finish all their tams, and just end up losing money because of it. As well, it's common knowledge that you're going to have to refill your flex dollars at some point during the year. Don't waste time worrying about what you're spending your dollars on, and just worry about what late night snack you're going to grab next.

7. Don't be afraid to talk to your TA - Holly 

Big lectures and unsettlingly quiet tutorials can be overwhelming and awkward. It's nothing like high school, where everyone knew your name, and where attendance was actually taken. You may feel out of place and totally unsure of yourself a lot of the time, but have no fear because your TAs are here to help! Although talking to your TAs and professors may seem like a big deal, it's really not. If you have a question or concern, or even just want to chat, they are usually happy to help with whatever you need.

8. Prioritize your time - Kaliah 

Big lectures and lots of classes means you have a good amount of free time at random parts of the day. The trick to keeping up with schoolwork and staying on top of your game is time management. Being able to sort out when it's time to work and when it's time to play is the single most important thing you can learn. Getting big projects and assignments done first, and having an organized plan for getting the rest of your work done means a little less stress and always handing things in on time... No deductions for those early birds!

9. It's okay to say no - Anna 

Tree, just say no, graffiti and carve HD photo by Andy Tootell (@andytoots) on Unsplash

on unsplash

Being open to new experiences and taking breaks from school work to join in on the fun is a great addition to the university experience. Some days though, you may not feel up to it. All the pressure of feeling like you need to go out every weekend can become too much, and you just need a break. Don't feel like you have to be doing something cool 24/7. It's a good thing to learn to say no, and take any breaks you might need. Being go-go-go all the time takes a toll on your well being, and its better to cozy up and take a nap than to overwhelm yourself. It's okay to be a little selfish by saying no and catch up on that much needed me time.

10. Don't take on too much too soon - Karlee 

Now that you're here, you might feel like you can really do anything—like you want to take on the world. While a little ambition never hurt anyone, careful not to take on too much at once. Sometimes, trying to work ahead just puts you further behind, and does you more harm than good. Take everything day by day, and do as much as you can while still maintaining a healthy and balanced mindset. 

11. Don't be afraid to voice that you're having a hard time - Marissa 

If it feels like everything in your life is piling up faster than you can take it, let someone know. Everyone is trying to figure out how they can handle their first year of university on their own, and more people than you know may be going through the exact same things as you. Voice that you're not doing okay, and seek the help and support systems that you need to get through it. Everyone else is just as nervous and unsure as you are, and if you can all help each other, the hard things seem a little easier. 

12. Keep up with your readings - Bronwen

Books, book, piile.sitting and reading HD photo by Gaelle Marcel (@gaellemm) on Unsplash

on unsplash

One of the biggest mistakes you can make within your first year is falling behind on your readings. Readings are an activity that almost no one wants to do, but is extremely important for learning relevant information in your courses. The common mistake of ignoring, skipping or forgetting about your readings sets you behind and leaves you scrambling before tests and exams to learn everything you missed. By keeping up with readings and activities week by week, you make it easier on yourself when it comes to studying (and cramming).

13. Buy used textbooks - Justine 

To keep up with all those readings, you're most likely going to have to buy a textbook or two. Buying all your required texts is definitely going to break the bank a little bit, so save yourself a buck or two by buying used. Many students try and make money by selling old textbooks to younger students, and it's a great way to save money yourself. Certain courses only use the textbooks a few times, if at all, so why waste tons of money on something that's only going to decorate your shelf.

14. Don't be so hard on yourself - Max

I swear high school teachers' favourite line to use is: "this is going to prepare you for university." While many things I learned in high school have helped me out here, the one thing they did not help us improve was our grades. While it is possible to do extremely well in your courses, is it highly unlikely that you will keep that 94 average you graduated with.

Your marks will drop and so will your confidence, but do yourself a favour and show yourself some compassion. Don't be hard on yourself when you get a "bad" grade, or when the assignment you worked so hard on only got you a 70%. So many students around you are failing, so be proud of any grade that's a decent mark. It is no mystery that your grades will drop once you get to university, so don't fret. Establish a new grading goal for yourself, and work to get close to that grade on each of your assignments. Your professors and TAs are already going to be hard on you, so be kind, and give yourself a little love and support. 

15. Sleep is SO important - Kort 

Arm, bed, hidden and texture HD photo by elizabeth lies (@elizabethlies) on Unsplash

on unsplash

What's a university student's favourite thing to do? Nap. As many of my friends and classmates can attest to, all university students ever seem to want to do is sleep. But do we ever actually get enough sleep? No. Its recommended that you get 8-10 hours of sleep a night, but I rarely see my floor-mates sleeping that much, and I can indefinitely say I sleep way less than recommended. Sleep seems to fall behind partying and studying on the list of priorities, but it's super important that you're getting enough sleep, since it highly effects your health and memory. Even if you'd rather stay up binge watching your favourite TV show, hit the pillow and get some shut eye, so you can actually make it to that 8:30. 

16. Get sleep, but don't be afraid to have an adventure - Emily 

Get out. Go do something amazing. Get over being afraid, and overthinking all of your decisions. While sometimes you might think that suggested adventures are dumb or maybe aren't the safest, this is the time in your life that you can take all the risks and gambles you want with little consequence. Some of the best stories start off with risky beginnings and tales of things you maybe shouldn't be doing. Taking adventures (within reason) is one of the best parts of being on your own, and as long as you're careful, you can come out with stories that will make everyone else jealous.  

17. Don't get into a relationship with a floor-mate - Adam 

Messy. Awkward. Weird. Need I say more? Relationships and hook-ups with floor-mates can be one of the worst things possible about living in residence. It's all fun and games until someone makes it weird and then it ruins friendships and fun for everyone. While I can't stop you from doing what (or who) you want, I can warn you against the dreaded floor-cest, and save you all the awkwardness you never know you needed saving from. 

18. Make mistakes. Make a lot of them. Learn from them. - Haileigh

In university, making mistakes isn’t something that is encouraged regularly. Nevertheless, because you’re human, you’re bound to make mistakes, and it’s important to learn that that’s okay. Everyone makes mistakes, but the important thing is to learn from them. There is so much you can discover from mishaps and accidents that you can't learn when everything goes right. So get out there and mess things up, but learn a lesson or two.

19. It's perfectly okay to just be doing okay - Monique 

When someone asks you how you are, the polite response is usually something along the lines of “I’m good” or “I’m fine." Are you always good though? Are you always doing 'just fine'? An important thing to learn is that it’s alright not to be doing your best. It’s okay, to just be doing okay. If some days you’re behind on your assignments and you feeling like the whole world is going twice the speed, its alright to feel overwhelmed, and not necessarily on top of your game. Don't put too much pressure on yourself to always keep up. Take care of yourself and only do what you can.

20. CALL YOUR MOM - Freskim

Texting over iced coffee photo by (@rawpixel) on Unsplash

on unsplash

It’s easy to get caught up in all your new-found freedom and adventures, and become overwhelmed by your new surroundings and friends. Nonetheless, just as easily you can forget about your life back home, and be sucked into the non-stop nature of university. Do yourself a favour, and call you parents. Not only will it bring a smile to their faces, but it's calming and rejuvenating for you too! So pick up the phone, dial your mom and get yourself a piece of home.

21.  Don't forget to enjoy yourself - Joel 

Dog in disguise photo by Braydon Anderson (@braydona) on Unsplash

on unsplash

All too often we get caught up in our assignments, tests, the school week, papers, and finals, filling every second of our days with stress and tenseness. Take a break and get out there! Remember that university isn’t just about the projects you do and the grades you get, but the memories you make and the experiences you have. While studying is good for the grades, do some good for your mind, take a much needed break and go have some fun!

I can assure you that my fellow first years and I have given you the need-to-know on everything you need to know. So take our advice, and go out and do something good for yourself... and if you need any more advice, you can call my mom. Contrary to popular belief, I'm pretty sure she really does know everything.