To my fresher and more naive self,
Congrats on getting us through a colourful first year of university. We had a jam-packed year of socialising, studying (periodically), losing all but one interhall sports event (Women’s Fustal was a very emotional victory for our team), student volunteer army-ing, confusing drunk people with life advice taped to lemons at Tea Party, buying gin with student allowance, and beginning to call Christchurch home.
Our first few days were somewhat chaotic, trying get our bearings around the campus grounds, moving in with 74 strangers, getting hyped about O’week, navigating a new city, and remembering all the things we forgot to pack for the flight down south. It was also a readjustment to be cooking our own meals again, because mother dearest was nowhere in sight.
Thankfully we passed everything, including good ol’ STAT101, in spite of our love hate relationship with Chi-squares and linear regression. We purchased many date scones from Café 101, witnessed more than enough vomit sessions by hall friends, skyped our parents and told them yes we were making friends Mum and yes we were studying hard for exams Dad, and learned a lot about ourselves via relationships, chats with friends, self-reflection and wearing our big girl pants.
We stuck out like a sore thumb on the streets of Christchurch with our dungarees, tartan vests and side ponytail wearing fashion choices, had the opportunity to explore the wonders of the South Island for the first time, and signed up for too many clubs on clubs day. Shout out to all the stalls who provided me with free pens and other funky merchandise. We did dumb things when we were drunk and dumb things when we were sober – eating soil is actually a sign of anaemia Abby, and you need to check yourself before you wreck yourself.
We ambitiously picked up Biology despite having not done it since year 11, and subsequently dropped it only months later (love you Pieter, thanks for making Plant Diversity genuinely entertaining). We changed majors three times in one semester, and finally settled on a double major that we love and want to excel in. We got excited about the free gym membership on campus, went hard for about 6 weeks, and then decided that sleeping in was more far important than pumping iron at ungodly hours. We sung our little heart out in the MuSoc cabaret, got used to a funky new sleep schedule, read too much CANTA and not enough course material, and discovered the hidden gem of the whimsical campus community gardens.
I think you thought, having already had a gap year, that first year would be fairly straightforward, but you weren’t prepared for the dreaded statistics assignments (that took a lot of mental gymnastics), or for standing in gumboot pants in the middle of Okeover Stream in order to measure the velocity of the water. You didn’t anticipate lecturers not replying to your emails and you definitely didn’t expect to be writing essays about segmented worms using peristalsis to move. (It was surprisingly quite fascinating, and something my mind never would have pondered otherwise.)
I would tell first year Abby to go easy on the Little Fat Lambs, buy hot chips less and study for Biology more, to not bother buying course related books unless you’re certain you will actually need them, try a lot harder in French class, embrace your weirdness, forgive yourself for your mistakes (just be sure to learn from them) and forgive others also, don’t stress so much, find study buddies early and don’t let them go, resign yourself to the fact that you’ll never find a free eng core booth, reach out to friends and family when your mental health starts to slip, don’t overcommit yourself or try to do everything at once, call your parents more, and tell your mates how much you love and appreciate them.