QUT Universe: The 9 rules for surviving your first year of university…or a Zombie Apocalypse

You may be asking yourself – how on earth can these two things relate? Don’t worry you’re not alone. I was just as surprised when I came to this realisation.

There’s nothing I love more than a good zombie flick, and one I love in particular is ‘Zombieland’. When I was watching it a few weeks ago, amidst the gore and all the laughing, an idea came to me…

Columbus’ rules for surviving a Zombie Apocalypse can just as easily be applied to university life.

I know what you’re thinking, just bear with me.

For those of you who for some unknown reason are yet to see this movie three years on, here is a brief synopsis:

The horror comedy ‘Zombieland’ focuses on two men who have found a way to survive a world overrun by zombies. Columbus is a big wuss — but when you’re afraid of being eaten by zombies, fear can keep you alive. Tallahassee is an AK-toting, zombie-slaying’ badass whose single determination is to get the last Twinkie on earth. As they join forces with Wichita and Little Rock, they will have to determine which is worse: relying on each other or succumbing to the zombies.

From various zombie experiences, Columbus creates a list of rules on how to avoid becoming a “human happy meal”. So taking a leaf from Columbus’ book, here is the list to help you survive a zombie apocalypse your first year of university:

Rule #1: Cardio
Unfortunately for us, both university campuses are rather large and if you don’t organise your timetable in the right way you may find yourself having to go from one end to the other to get to class. If you’re at Kelvin Grove then you know how much of a pain this can be with “the hill”, especially if you had a bit too much to drink the night before. Although it is fairly obvious, exercise and keeping fit can massively make a difference to getting around campus especially if your fitness level isn’t as good as it should be. Try taking the five flights of stairs from the bus stop rather than the lift or walk up the hill instead of taking the 15-minute round bus trip (yes, people actually do this).

Rule #2: Double-tap
No, I’m not talking about this in the movie sense – owning a firearm is not only dangerous but also illegal. Here I’m referring to all of the assessment we get throughout the semester. I have heard dozens of stories about students losing marks for not taking the extra time to double check their work and making silly mistakes that might not have happened had they had another look.

Rule #3: Travel light
There’s nothing worse than having to lug a heavy bag around university, especially if you are there all day. If there is a textbook you don’t need to bring, then don’t bring it. Do you really need your laptop for this tutorial? The people on the bus will thank you when your bag isn’t occupying a seat.

Rule #4: Get a kick-ass partner
Having a friend or two in your course is always good. If you find your friend isn’t doing the same subjects as you that semester then don’t be afraid to make friends with someone who is. They’re feeling exactly the same and it will help both of you in the end. Makes doing assignments and group work a lot easier too.

Rule #5: Bowling ball
I don’t mean take a bowling ball to uni and just start a game on the lawn with your friends in your break but more the general idea of just having fun. Don’t let university assessment take over your life because in the end you won’t really be having one. You don’t want to look back at these years and wonder why you never enjoyed the other aspect of university – the social part. Get together with a few people after a lecture or tutorial and just relax and unwind. Doesn’t matter what you choose to do for fun but make sure you put aside the time to do it.

Rule #6: Don’t Be a Hero
Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and answer a question in front of a few hundred or so strangers, even if you think it’s wrong, you can only learn from your answer and the ones that are sure to follow. Contributing to discussions gives you a better idea of the topic and will help you with other things associated with it.

Rule #7: Limber up
Much like rule #1, being limber is somewhat important, especially when climbing those five flights of stairs or “the hill”. You sit for hours listening to other people talk so when you have the opportunity to move your body you should. Maybe take the stairs instead of the elevator – get your heart pacing just a little bit faster. Every step helps.

Rule #8: When in doubt, know your way out
The transport system can be a little daunting, especially in the first few weeks. I have found myself at a different stop or five in previous semesters. Don’t panic. I don’t think there’s a phone plan out there that doesn’t include Internet data as standard, so just use yours to look up a solution. If you can’t do this then either ask someone or go back to the very beginning, the very best place to start…sorry, this is an entry about zombies not Maria and the Von Trapp family.

Rule #9: Enjoy the little things
Whether it’s a funny mishap in a lecture or getting your first 7 on an assignment or exam, especially one you worked really hard on – enjoy it. It’s these little things that make up the best memories of our years at university and the things you don’t tend to forget. Ask your parents about their time at university and they’ll tell you about all the things they did with friends (well maybe not everything), the memorable lessons with their favourite lecturer’s or the semester they spent abroad and traveling the world.

And don’t be afraid to talk to other students or to teaching staff – they’re not man-eating zombies!

To paraphrase Dr Sheldon Cooper, “good day and if there’s an apocalypse…good luck!”


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