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A Guide for First Years (Or, How to Avoid Looking Like a Complete Goob)

Laura McQuillan



Congratulations! You’ve finally reached the wonderful world of university. Chances are you’ve just moved out of home, miss your mum, and spent last weekend wandering the streets of Wellington with no idea where you were.
Based on my own experiences, this page will tell you, young fi rst-year, everything you need to know about life at university and Wellington in general. So learn this by heart – there will be a test later.
Living in a hostel? Sucks to be you. If you signed up to live with someone you knew at high school, you made a bad move; odds are you’ll drive each other to the brink of insanity by late April.
The purpose of living in a hostel is to meet a bunch of diverse, interesting, different people and form a posse. If all goes according to plan, you’ll hang with them for years to come, and probably live with one another over the years. A rating system with some kind of points criteria could be handy, as you don’t want your new posse to suck.
If your hostel is self-catered, I hope you know how to cook. I should probably mention that fi rst-year chicks will experience some amount of weight-gain, regardless of their catering status. I also advise making friends with someone at Unicomm and going there for dinner, but not on Moussaka night or ‘fast-food Friday’ (if they still do that).
Hostels often have night-shift security guards who will prevent you from taking home that hottie pattottie you met at Shooters, therefore hindering your ability to score (one of the main reasons you left home). It is essential, however, that this does not drive you to disregard the best piece of advice that no-one ever takes – do not screw the crew. No matter how hot your fl atmate looks walking around in their towel, do not tap that. It’s embarrassing, awkward, and takes years to live down.
If you’re from anywhere other than Auckland or Wellington, leave your old wardrobe behind and prepare to assimilate. Jeans in Wellington are generally worn tight-tight, but I will leave it in your capable hands to consider whether tight jeans suit you.
If you’re determined to fi t in, please avoid wearing ugh boots in town (ugh!) or the old running shoes/jeans combo. Otherwise known as ‘sneans’, this look is just silly, especially with fashionably-destroyed flares.
Quickly work-in your sub-culture of choice. You’re in Wellington now – pretend that you’re attending the utopic meeting of ideas and art (ha!). Are you going to be a dreadlocked, malodorous hippie from Aro Valley, or a novelty tee-shirt wearing indie hipster? If you come from a wealthy family you’re most likely to get stuck in the preppy vacuum, but you still need to look sharp (in that deliberate mainstream kind of way). Pre-existing goths, punks, bogans and emos can generally fend for themselves.
Maps of university are very handy, but walking round with your nose in one makes it frightfully obvious that you’re a new kid on the block. I advise taking one home and learning it by heart before entering the maze that is the Kelburn campus.
On your way to lectures, please note the electronic dooropening buttons (these are generally red or green, and located within the vicinity of said door). The doors are very heavy and difficult to open manually, and you will look like a dick trying to do so.
Please refer to pages 30-31 for the low-down on campus food, which is generally of an abysmal standard. We have a bar (which may or may not still operate), complete with some of Wellington’s most expensive jugs, a boardingschool- lunchroom interior and tumbleweeds in lieu of live entertainment. Yay!
Wellington is renowned for being a hive of culture, particularly in terms of music, art, theatre and the cafe lifestyle. There’s absolutely no excuse to be sitting on a street corner eating a Cheesy McSteak burger when you could be exploring the many wonderful eateries within two blocks of Cuba Street.
A personal favourite of mine is Satay Kingdom, tucked away in the Left Bank Arcade (off Cuba Street). This place has fantastic Malaysian cuisine. In particular, I recommend the delightful vegetarian roti chanai. Find this place, eat there and you will fit in like a true Wellingtonian.
When wandering the streets of town, be sure to watch out for hobos and crazy buskers, especially when they’re mumbling into a microphone along to an imaginary orchestra and want your help conducting the fourth movement.
As for art, theatre and music, check Salient’s art section each week for what you should see and where you should be seen.
All of this may be daunting to you whether you’re from a remote farming rurality, or even the bustling metropolis of Palmerston North. Follow my advice and you’ll be fi ne. Be safe – just because you’re 18 years old and living away from home there’s no reason to go overboard. Try new things, meet new people, do your homework, and have fun. Or else.