University is kind of like someone throwing you from a little tin boat to a yacht and expecting you to know how to sail it home. Kind of intimidating to say the least. You're supposed to know where to go, what to do, and all while your just trying to keep your head above water while keeping your fab life on course. It can be overwhelming.

When moved into Queen's I thought I knew what to expect because I had already done the "first day" routine, except at Dalhousie. The day we got to Dal we were instantly thrown into orientation, my floor and I clicked right away (which many people can tell you pretty much never happens) and everything else from there was a blur. But, I dropped out 3 weeks in to take a year off. And that year off steered me to (BLESS) Queens.

Move in day I peeled off the 400 to Kingston, SUV packed to the brim with dorm room essentials (ie. my twinkle lights and Beyonce poster) and, with confidence like Kayne, I felt like I owned this shit. Pulling up to McNeil residence I settled in pretty quick, threw open my door, blasted some crowd pleasing EDM soft pop and waited for my life long best friend to appear. I was ready for it to be like the movies, I was ready to meet my floor "family", the people I was supposed to connect with right away and never part with. It doesn't always work like that, and I'm actually extremely happy it didn't.

There's no such thing as a typical university experience and I was always waiting for that. But a diva can only wait so long, and the second I started to go after what I really wanted, the better it got. I went to the spot in a bucket hat and fanny pack. I booty dropped with people from 1st to 4th year in the JDUC during charity fashion show run throughs. I got a job. Queen's doesn't just make easy to get involved in, but they literally foster an enviroment where it's so easy to find your own groove that it feels like all you have to do is yell CHA GAEL and wait for the love to arrive. And by that I mean simply get outside, if you yell cha gael it's not like a batman call.

There's some things that you'll never expect to happen in University, and it's almost better to keep that a surprise. But there are some things that won't only make your life easier, but will help you have a dope University experience. From the basic necessities, to my wise life lessons that show I have my life together (lol), to life hacks that won't have you wandering Mac-Correy for hours; these are the things I wish I knew before walking down university ave.

1. There's no such thing as "one type" of Queen's experience

Queen's is a place that has a huge stereotype for attracting one type of person, and while that's totally true in many cases (walk down University and count the number of sperrys), Queen's is proof that no one person is alike. There's a huge diversity of students that go to Queen's, so it's literally illogical to think that every single person is going to want to do the same things and be the same way. Sure we all love tri-colour (cha gael), but not everyone is going to want to party all the time, or hit up Tuesday Tumble at Ale House. And thank goodness, because otherwise we'd be boring AF. Find your groove and don't worry about what it looks like everyone else is doing, it worked for me. I found a ton of people that aren't only my family now, but are weird, interesting, sassy, and hilarious AF and there's no one else I want to get Sangria at QP with then them.


2. Classfind.com will save you from looking like a lost frosh...all the way until 4th year

I'm pretty sure this amazing website was built just for people who have classes in Mac-Correy aka the labyrinth of no return. If your classroom seems as unreachable as your ex-bae, just head to class find, type in your room number and step by step instructions and pictures will guide you to the right place.


3. Bring your water bottle to the dining hall for free chase

LIFE HACK- bring your water bottle, head to the soda fountain and volia. Free chase.


4. Clubs are an unreal way to meet people and find a new passion

This isn't some 70's high school cliche where the chess club is in social isolation in the school basement, clubs are the shit at Queen's. Getting involved isn't just celebrated but encouraged to the point you won't know whether you'll want to join he Bagpipe Club or Generation Screwed. To say Queen's has a lot of clubs is an understatement, you'll figure that out the second you start school. Head to myams.org to see the whole list.


5. If you need ANYTHING sewed onto your jacket go to Quick Sew

And ONLY Quick Sew. That jacket is pretty much your first born child, don't mess it up.


6. You can get a bagel for under $2 at Common Ground Coffee Co. for those dreaded 8:30s

When you got a 3 hour lecture monday morning, you're gonna need some fuel. But that doesn't mean you're ready to drop all your dolla dolla bills on a gourmet feast. Solution? A bagel with butter at Cogro will fill you up for less than bus fare. That's student budgeting for you.

COFFEE LOVER HACK: Their bold roast actually has less caffeine than heir Hau5 roast, the bold just has a darker taste.


7. You're best friends may not be on your floor and that's okay

There's a myth that every first year buys into (myself included) that you need to be best friends with your entire floor. But the odds that your enire floor is going to end up life long BFF's with matching tattoos are the same odds as you finding love with 40 strangers on e-harmony- just ain't gonna happen. With the amount of ways to get involved in campus and because of the sheer size of Queen's, you're crew could be found outside your regulation size floor, and that's totally normal.


8. BUY EARPLUGS

This is so key I can't stress it enough. The walls are hella thin and you'll probably end up hearing some ~bonding~ you don't want/need to hear, like ever. It happened to me the night before a history exam, it can happen to you.


9. Go to The Brass Pub for drinks for free drunk food

The brass is in the middle of the hub and is bomb on Sunday nights. But even better? They usually have a popcorn machine stocked and it's free for anyone there. (Disclaimer, you do have to pay for stuff on the menu, don't walk in there and expect to own the place please).


10. Milk your meal plan for as long as you can

You got pre-paid access to unlimited food in your pocket, you're basically every upper years dream. Seduce people with 4-pieces from Lazy, buy snacks for days with only 1 meal equivalency at Tim's (you can literally get like 5 muffins for 1 meal only). You have free food in your pocket. Let that sink in.


11. Don't be afraid to talk to people outside your friend group (cringing this even needs to be said)

This can apply to life to (because it's 2016), but again this isn't some cliche high school movie where the jocks and the science kids never interact. Don't be stuck in a high school mindset of cliques, espically at Queen's. It's so easy to stick o what you know, but when you step ouside your comfort zone (this is starting to sound like a musical but stay with me) then that's when you're going to find people and things you never hought you could love. I tried out for cheerleading, I did a modelling show where I met my best friends, I bonded with the sweetest lady working at LoCo Maria. The more you reach out, the more you learn and the less you feel lonely.


12. You can get 15 dollar wine bottle partying at The Underground

Student run club with throwback thursdays and hip hop saturdays? We could mess with that. They have way cheaper drinks because it's a student run service that get's we're not ready to drop all our money on a whiskey sour. Head there for an unreal time.

BONUS: FREE COVER ALWAYS!


13. TA's are lifesavers sent from above

When you hit you're 8:30 tutorial and all you can think about is your comforter, don't take the angst out on your TA. Most of them are students themselves and are there for the purpose of helping you and exploring their passion. We love to talk about the things we love. And why else would someone willingly choose to explain to frosh mathematic theories if they didn't love it? Ask them questions, and you and your grades will be glad you did.


14. Floorcest is only awkward if you let it be

Let me lay it down for you, it's middle of winter, hormones are flowing and you're trapped in a little residence bubble that makes everyone 10x more attractive- you may hook up with someone on your floor. And despite the myth it's totally gonna ruin your entire experience; that's only if you let it. Give a casual high five, throw back their shirt get your bra back and keep your head high.


15. Join the Queen's Textbook Exchange Facebook group to save money and your sanity

Buying textbooks the first week of school will leave you and your wallet crying. The book store looks like it's boxing day, you have no idea where to get your Gender Studies textbook or what a course reader even is and you have class in an hour. Solution? Join textbook exchange on Facebook, you can trade or buy textbooks for way cheaper.

Other facebook groups to check out (not saying you should but do it): Overheard at Queen's, RIDESHARE Queen's University, GPA Bars Hub, Free & For Sale


16. Learn how to never step foot outside in the frigid winter by taking short cuts through buildings

Cut through the ARC, then JDUC, all the way through Mac-Correy and you've just spend 75% of your walk inside. Your welcome cold souls.


17. Some of the best nights you have are night long pre's in Res

Pre's that turn into parties? SIGN ME UP. The amount of times me and my friends have ditched the club and spend nights dancing like idiots to Jonas Brothers is ridiculous. But I would never change them.


18. For those days when meals at the cafe are too ~interesting~, head to Queen's Pub, it's all ages until 8pm

Cheap food and an amazing atmosphere, a lot of first years (not me....maybe) never went here last too because they didn't know you could actually go. They serve everyone though until 8pm when it become 19 plus only. Bonus, it's in the middle of the JDUC so you don't even have to go far for some unreal pub grub.


19. Visit the Sexual Health Resource Centre post or pre getting ~freaky~

Ya I cringed writing that too, but seriously. If you think you have an STD, or just have questions about what goes where, this is a seriously underrated resource. Plus you can get a ton of condoms for way cheaper than any other pharmacy, and it's all confidential.


20. Getting a part time on Campus is life changing and doesn't feel like work

If your schedule is flexible enough, get a part time job on campus for some extra pocket money and an unreal way to meet people. The best thing about working on campus (whether it's Cogro or TAPS) is that you literally are working with your best friends all day. It's completely student run, so your boss (who you also saw at Ale House the other night) also gets that you can't work because your 12 page essay may just destroy you. Check out fall hiring here.


21. The Writing Centre is the equivalent of getting 5 chicken fingers on a 4 piece...A BLESSING

Not gonna lie this place saved my life multiple times this year. It's absurd how much free stuff Queen's students have access to, including this gem that provides services like free writing consultations and workshops on everything about how to get your shit together. I walked in with a some jumbled words on a page and came out with a beautiful essay. Make an appointment here early if you know you have a big essay due!


22. The Toucan downtown has brunch for $4.25 until 3pm on Sundays

I just found this out and am still shaking. Perfect hangover cure to kick off your week. You need to purchase a beverage to get this deal, but mimosas cure hangovers am I right?


23. Speaking of brunch (always) Botterell Hall Brunch is your best friend

You can get a sh*t ton of food here for only 1 meal equiv. Get the big breakfast, it's a game changer. (They have all day breakfast on Thursdays!) Definitly worth the hike to the bio-sci side of campus!


24. If you ever want to take your day from good to great people watch between classes on University

I'm not gonna say eye candy central, but now that you're thinking it...WE HOT AT QUEEN'S. As a timid first year walking down University I almost had to physically pick my jaw off the ground from the amount of good looking people.


25. Clubs like QDC and FLOW offer FREE dance classes in September

During their trial weeks everyone and anyone (awkward and professional dancers alike) are welcome to take some fabulous classes. Get in a workout and booty pop? That's a two for one deal my friends. Check out FLOW, and QDC.


26. Go to Queen's Players

That's all I'm going to say about that one, something you need to see to believe.


27. Don't feel lame for staying in

One night is not going to make or break your University experience. Everyone says that University is a lot on your body and mind, and they're not just saying that because they're on the latest episode of Punk'd. If you are exhausted you won't even have a good time out, and remember that there are a TON of people doing the exact same thing as you. Don't isolate, but remember that sometimes Stages can be hella sweaty and Netflix and a power nap will leave you feeling way better.


28. Hit up Kame Sushi & Bento for bomb sushi for a cheap price

Students, nah, people- love sushi. Kame is right near the Hub and has a huge variety of sushi for a student friendly budget (we're talking lunch specials averaging 10 dollars) when you aren't feeling those cafe dinners anymore.


29. You can save about $150 by opting out of AMS "opt-out" fees

You have a health and dental plan when you enroll in Queen's that you pay for, you also usually are paying for optional opt-out fees for things like clubs. If you're not using any of that, you can opt-out and save some money by September 30th! Check out all the info here.


30. You don't need to wake up at the unhumane hour of 4am to got tickets to the hoco football game

I walked in a 9am and got them. Don't fall into the 4am camp out for hours trap. Get that sleep on.


31. You're never going to want to leave

But you'll know why. ?


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