It’s All Smooth Sailing From Here: Surviving your First Year at UTS

UTSoC, 2019.

Image credit: Eliza Spencer

First year can be… an adjustment, but take it from a third year, it’s not all bad. Eliza Spencer is here to tell you this: while it does get better, the coffee gets worse.

My first day of uni, I left the lecture hall crying. Not the subtle angsty Netflix-drama tears that roll down your face while Bon Iver plays in the background crying, but ugly sobbing down Harris Street fully believing I’d never pass first year.

First lecture of third year, there were no tears. Just a cold pretzel and cold coffee, dressed in work clothes for a shift starting right after class, realising that no matter how many years you’re at uni, the assessments don’t seem to get much easier.

University teaches you to roll with the punches, and in first year, there’s a lot of them. They tend to be the kind that completely shift whatever meticulously planned work-life-study-sleep balance you may have. With time, and a lot of late nights, you’ll figure it out, from the anything but user-friendly Timetable Planner to actually hanging out with people outside of tutes, all good things take time.

It’s essential to find your local coffee (or tea) haunt to make it through whatever comes your way during the semester. Yes, you will likely fall in love with the barista, and pray for the day where they slide your soy cap over with their number written on the receipt, but hot tip: it won’t happen. The closest you’ll likely get to love in first year is finding out that you and your friends may have all swiped on the same cute guy or gal, or even worse – the cutie you matched with last night is in your tute. Just smile, wave, and finish your warm beer down at The Loft. It can only get better from here.

Image credit: Eliza Spencer

Until, it doesn’t. Sometimes uni doesn’t get easier, and it may take a mental breakdown mid-tute for it to click that it may be time to get some help from a professional. If you don’t get your shit together, things will catch up to you. Whatever perfectionist tendencies, anxieties, or dark thoughts have been kicking around in your head can catch you out without a good support system, and the last thing anyone needs while powering through that final Communications unit is to feel isolated and powerless. Thankfully, uni’s got your back, there’s free counselling, academic support, and on-campus legends like Batyr ready to listen when you need it.

By the time third year comes around, you’ll likely have it nailed. The little things like looking perfect for class and having those fancy $16 notebooks are significantly less important compared to just showing up and remembering to charge your laptop the night before. Hopefully you’ve figured out how to pick your subjects for a great timetable and discovered that the eggplant dumplings across the from the library are not only cheaper, but better, than any hipster alternative on Glebe Point Road.

Cheap coffee from 7-Eleven is the lifeblood of third year, each sip taking the edge off those group assessments and early morning lectures, even if it tastes like battery acid. Along with great friendships made stronger by two years of news days and essays, you’ll find the people to lean on when deadlines change at the last minute or when an internship interview means you’re missing a lecture. We’re in this together, ready to get the hell out of uni with some dank memes, cheap drinks, and a support system that’ll get us walking the graduation stage, with a bunch of strange moments and hilarious stories along the way.

If reading this article has brought up any concerns or strong emotions, please contact ReachOut at or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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