Insider Knowledge

The knowledge you wish you had when you started university.

By Liam Donnelly

Stepping into a new environment isn’t easy, especially one as varied and as big as a university.  

Your lecturers give off the impression that every word they speak during a lecture is equivalent to that of sacred a gospel reading. 

You feel as though the only way you’re going to actually succeed and complete your work is to have impeccable self-discipline and self-awareness that is so insightful you could be your own therapist. 

Eventually, you’re going to learn that university isn’t nearly as intimidating as you thought. That the initial fear you felt was birthed from superficial details, and not grounded in any reasonable self-doubt. 

So, to combat this oncoming dread, I’m getting ahead of the game by giving you as much advice as I can before you’ve even started. 

Who am I to be giving this advice? Well, let’s just say I’ve been at this university a very fucking long time. I’ve done and seen everything this place has to offer; nothing can surprise me anymore. 

So, I’ve picked some of the unblemished truths, harsh realities, and hilariously accurate stereotypes that I’ve learnt that I think you should know before you start university for the first time. 


  • They would never admit it, but most lecturers are secretly no more organised than you.  
  • If you travel to university via motorised vehicle, be warned, car parking is very expensive. Side streets with good, lengthy parking options are few and far between. So plan ahead, always get here early. 
  • Get the Student Allowance! Who cares if you have to pay it back?! Extra money allows for extra fun and adventures, and when you’re paying back that student loan in a decade, you’ll want to look back at this time of your life with as much fondness as possible. 
  • Eng Core has the best couch booths for studying (or procrastinating). 
  • Wearing apparel adorned with your school logo is not tasteful. Sorry, but what high school you went to is no longer interesting and/or relevant. 
  • The ‘Fresher Five’ is a nickname for the five kilos that freshers tend to gain when they first start unidon’t worry, it’s not a bad thing. 
  • No one cares about your appearance, where whatever you feel like. You will get more harshly judged if you wear fancy clothes and Saturday-night-grade make up than if you rocked up in bum pants and a hoodie with holes in it. 
  • Yes, a large cohort – predominantly engineering students – don’t seem to wear shoes ever. Yes, it is gross. 
  • Got a problem? Struggling at uniDon’t worry; the UCSA will provide a sausage sizzle and a can of Fresh Up to solve all your problems! 


  • Unless you are literally money, to a student who studies Economics or Finance, you don’t matter. 
  • At UC, Law students being uptight and arrogant is a common stereotype. But that is totally unfair and inaccurate. Law students all across the country are uptight and arrogant. 
  • Those who do sports degrees get a bad reputation because some people don’t really consider them real degrees. But are you going to get that 4-10pm shift as Assistant Manager at Total Fitness, Riccarton? No, didn’t think so.  
  • If the university was a family, and all the departments were children, Engineering would be the favourite child. The one that gets all the attention, all the fancy equipment, all the funding, and they got visual effects at their building opening. 


  • Join clubs! There’s basically a club for every degree, hobby, or activity you can possibly think of. They are the best way to meet new people, and  if you consider yourself the social type  clubs can quite easily fill up your social calendar.  
  • Joining SVA (Student Volunteer Army) is great for the CV. 
  • Any student who is part of CUBA is immediately cooler (and more attractive) than you. 
  • Of all the clubs, ENSOC probably has the most colourful history. Now, they have a fire truck, and that’s about it. 
  • Student Life is famous for their branded jandals, and for the small price of signing away your life to Jesus, you too can have a pair! 
  • UC has a very diverse range of religious clubs, and by diverse, I mean that 7 of the 8 clubs are Christian.
  • When the Young Nats attempt to do anything on campus, it’s like the Steve Buscemi “How do you do, fellow kids?” meme has come alive. 
  • If you like the smell of damp, old clothes, then you’ll LOVE Opsoc!  
  • UC Amateur Sports Society abbreviates its name to UCASS. As a gay man, when I found out UCASS actually had nothing to do with bums, I was extremely fucking disappointed. 
  • More niche hobbies have clubs too, like AnimeSoc for example, who get together to watch and celebrate all things hentai anime.  


  • Think about a rubbish dump. Now imagine that dump is in an effluent pond. And that effluent pond is in Hell. It’s still nicer than Uni Hall. 
  • The University of Canterbury’s College House prides itself on being the most expensive university hall in the country. No one else prides them on it, but they certainly do. College House is also the closest UC has to a cult.  
  • Bishop Julius Hall. The most interesting thing about it is that it exists. The last time anything fun happened there was, well, never.