O-week: the very short transition period between holiday and that hard graft- hopefully. It’s that uncomfortable crossroad between the sad end of good times and the relief of not having to tolerate boredom and an idle mind anymore. So what’s the best way to navigate these weird and fantastical times, kids? Well, only a little razzle will do! Oddly, the powers that be at universities seem to have that all under control.
Having an entire week to get familiar and adjust, with the option of turning up, can pose a special conundrum for many. Some first years (and some of the returning professional students) are struggling to come to terms with the novelty of freedom alongside freedom’s siamese twin we wish we could keep at arm’s length, responsibility.
Achieving the golden mean in this situation is like walking a tight rope between skyscrapers – get your balance wrong and it’s not a great ending. The freedom-abusers who reach for the bottle at every opportunity or the full-time groove masters will likely become too acquainted with hangovers and memories of poor decision-making (if they could be so lucky to remember) while they develop a long and telling academic record. And those that over-indulge in responsibility stunt their own growth, learning nothing more but what’s required to get a degree.
And like all good things in life, let’s stay mindful that it’s a tough thing to achieve this almost superhuman equilibrium. So when you come across those the indulgent individuals – and you will – try to tap into your compassionate and sympathetic side by recognizing the humanity in these individuals. Excuse the drunkard’s behaviour, offer him or her some water. Say hi to the person who’s sitting alone and invite them to join you in your after-hours part-time adventures.
I can understand how being this open and friendly can seem to require alien-like abilities for our pubescent, high-school-wired brains, but we’re not in high school anymore. I wish someone had told me this four years ago! So in my fifth year of study I’m going to take my own advice and try to keep it moderately classy. Let’s not forget there’s still some serious admin to do, and no one wants to be ‘that guy/girl’ from the get go. Let’s all try to maintain some mystery regarding our own weaknesses and perhaps by the time we can no longer restrain ourselves we’ll have enough compassionate friends and strangers around us to save us when we slip off the tightrope.