Before I started studying, I was very nervous because I didn’t know what to expect at all. I never moved to a different city or changed schools. And although I helped my parents with the household, I still had no idea about so many things.

Now after studying for two years, I am ready to pass on my wisdom and the wisdom of my fellow students to new freshmen. Because who better to ask than the people who have just started to get their life under control?

So, I asked my fellow students about their best college advice. Here is what they came up with:

“What is the best college advice you can give a freshman?”

“What is the most important thing you learned in your time as a college student?”

  • Cooking apps and Buzzfeed Tasty on Instagram are lifesavers.
  • Wear comfortable shoes when going out.
  • Always carry cash with you.
  • If you have a filter coffee machine, put some cinnamon in the coffee powder to get a less bitter taste.
  • Taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of others.
  • Always have a bottle of wine / beer / whisky etc. at home.
  • You can never have enough Tupper cans.
  • Sitting in front of it is half the rent (that’s a German saying).
  • Effervescent tablets are better than carrying fizzy water. 
  • Don’t buy books that are sold by other students. You will never read them.
  • ALWAYS lock your bike.
  • Find the way to the lecture hall before the semester starts. Sometimes you can spend half an hour or even more searching for the classroom.
  • Remember that good things take time and don’t happen overnight. Don’t be too hard with yourself! If you don’t pass the test the first time, it’s okay, go on and try again, you’re not the only one having this problem. Especially in the first semester, you have to figure out your own way and this takes time. 
  • Instant ramen is your friend. Don’t fight it. Also, get the spicy kind.
  • If you only want to pass, StudyDrive rules. If you want to be good, do the work yourself and put in the necessary hours, but work with people, who won’t dump everything on you.
  • Sleep is overrated. Coffee rules.
  • Find something to balance out stress (i.e. a hobby).
  • Have some fun. Life gets harder soon enough.
  • Buy a water gun. Perfect to protect yourself against predatory food stealers. Also, great to piss off your house mates or your significant other.
  • Don’t pressure yourself too much. You will most likely not have a clue what’s going on at first, but you have enough time to figure things out.
  • Try to live on a low budget. Soon even little things are going to feel like luxury. Go i.e. second-hand furniture shopping. There are great things waiting for a new owner, plus you save a great deal of money.
  • Do house dinners and movie night with your housemates every few months. Best cinema deals for students are on Tuesdays.
  • Frozen lasagna is the hottest shit.
  • Smoothie mixers will get you very far!
  • You can never have enough condoms.
  • Get more than one pair of comfortable sweatpants. You’ll need more than one. Trust me.
  • Get a (or ten) cactus. Give it a name. Makes your home look more comfortable and you feel less alone when sad.
  • Talking to a cactus is perfectly normal.
  • If you’re ever in a lecture and think to yourself “What am I even supposed to do with this?” – don’t worry, you’re not the only one and there will come a point in time where your brain will go click and everything will make sense (sometimes this can even still happen years after graduating). 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions in the lecture. Most people will be impressed that you even understand enough to ask questions.
  • If you need or want to get a job, try getting one at the university (teaching assistant, in a professor’s office, etc.) – they’re usually the most relaxed and understanding employers, plus you can immerse yourself in one area of study while getting paid!
  • Google Drive and/or Dropbox are essentials: Your university files are always on hand, everything is backed up in the cloud, and it makes collaborating with your fellow students so much easier.
  • It’s completely possible to change directions after you graduate (many people are so young that it’s even possible to do a second degree) – so if you ever feel like you’re heading down a wrong path, don’t sweat it. It’s never too late to start over.
  • It’s better to burn out than to fade away.
  • Don’t change who you are in order to find friends, you’re going to be that person for a while.
  • Be open minded and try to meet as many people as you can in the first couple of weeks. You‘ll need some good friends to survive. And they also might stay a lifetime.
  • Don’t call or visit your parents too often. Yes, talk to them and tell them about your day! But if you do get homesick it won’t get better if you’re constantly reminded of how much you miss your family. You’ll learn to appreciate your parents and everything they’ve done for you.
  • Cook for yourself. It’s cheaper and healthier compared to most take out. 
  • Don’t stress too much about finding friends: it’s not high school where you are the only new kid. Everybody is nervous and most people are alone, trying to find friends.
  • Keep your room clean. A clean room makes it easier to concentrate. AND DON’T DO EVERYTHING IN YOUR BED (i.e. eating, studying, relaxing). You won’t be able to sleep well after a while. 
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. Everybody has to find their own way in their own time.
  • Student discounts are essential. For more student discounts, try out apps like Student Beans or UNiDAYS.
  • Do as many journeys as you can and try to enjoy every moment with your friends.
  • Learn to work with people. Group work only works if everyone is able to work in a team. You will need help from others, and they will need yours’! In addition: Every discussion helps you to understand the topic better and gets you ahead!
  • Eat well and stay hydrated, nothing makes you feel worse than eating fast food all the time.
  • Advice from students in a higher semester are essential.
  • Don’t take life too seriously, focus on your goals but enjoy your college years and live your best life.
  • Practice beer pong on a daily basis, it’s one of the best skills you can show off at parties.

Hasselfelde Beach

Your first year after moving out is the year of learning. And sometimes failing. Your college time is to try out and learn new stuff. It’s the time to meet new people and make big and small mistakes. Everybody does, that’s how we learn. You can be certain that most of the advice is based on a mistake from the past.

Just because you’re moving out or moving to a new city doesn’t mean you suddenly need to know how to operate the washing machine and make a gourmet meal. It is also okay to put the laundry room under water the first time you wash and to argue with the caretaker … right?

All jokes aside, you will find your way if you just let it come to you and show people that you are a nice person. Whether you are a freshman or an Erasmus student, most people in university are open-minded and eager to meet new people.

Even with all these tips, the charm of the whole thing is to actually do it yourself. It’s the experience itself to wake up with an empty fridge because you forgot to shop or to sit in a lecture completely haphazardly.

And there is a reason why it is said that your time as a student is the best time of your life. So, use it and make some memories!