The start of a new ‘year’ and some survival tips

September for most people signify a new chapter in their life. Going into university or starting a new year after the summer break. For me, I don’t form my resolutions on New Year, it has always been before the start of an academic year; what I plan to achieve, who I plan to impress, how much weight I plan to lose (:P), where I plan to be by next September etc. This year is no different.

I am finally entering the beginning of the last stage of my long education haul. It is enormously exciting and perplexing. This is it. Studying and working professionally in what I have strived for all these years. I know a few friends too who are entering their qualifying professional degrees this year as well and we share together a sense of having persisted with our dreams and achieved it. This is especially true with one friend of mine whom I went to university with, we have always talked about what kind of work experience we should get, if it’s even worth it, or how long it’ll take us if we even get there. Nostalgia.

On a lighter note, here are some survival tips! It’s for anyone who would be embarking on a new academic year. (extract from ‘When you’re the new kid in school’ : http://psychcentral.com/lib/2011/when-you%e2%80%99re-the-new-kid-in-school/)

  • Remember that the new place will give you a new chance.For at least the first day, you’re exotic. Especially in a school where there isn’t much coming and going, you’re someone special. Yes, it’s true you left what is familiar. But the new place is also a new opportunity. Nobody knows who you are, who you hung out with, or what to expect from you. If you didn’t quite like who you are or the reputation you had, you have a chance to start over. If you did like it, you can take that confidence with you and make a big splash.
  • Get oriented. If at all possible, visit the school before school starts. It’s hard enough to start over without also getting lost all the time. Ask your folks to arrange a tour. Figure out where the principal’s office is and how to get to the library. Ask for a map of the layout of the school. No time for this? Well, asking for directions is one way to begin to get to know people.
  • Do a little research. Get on the Internet and find out about the school. There’s probably a website. If there isn’t one for the school, look for the town’s site. You can find out about sports teams and events. You can learn what clubs are active and how the teams are doing. You can even check out what is usually served for lunch.
  • Take the time to assess. When you’re lonely, it’s tempting to grab onto whoever grabs you. But you want to take the time to look things over and figure out who’s who. As you know, as soon as you start hanging with a particular group, it will be hard to change your mind.
  • Dress for the group you want to join. For most teens, clothes are code for who you are. Wear a clean, neat, but kind of neutral outfit the first day. Get up in time to shower and do your hair. Jeans are generally fine as long as they’re clean and not flashy. Presenting yourself neutrally the first few days gives you time to figure out the informal rules for dress among the students. Once you’ve got it down, you can dress to fit in with the group you want to accept you.
  • Avoid cafeteria stress the first day. Pack a lunch so you don’t have to stand in line wondering whether to accept someone’s invitation to join their table or, worse, to have to walk the long mile in front of everyone to an empty table. Confidently sit on the edge and watch for a few days. Sit in a way that broadcasts confidence. You’re not a reject. You’re taking the time to think about who you’ll choose to be with.
  • Introduce yourself to teachers. First impressions do matter and you want to make a good one. Try to get to classes a bit early or to stay a few minutes after class to introduce yourself and to tell them where you’re from. A few minutes of politeness will get things off on the right foot.
  • Join something. A fast way to get to know some people is to join a team, a club, the band, a service organization, or student activities. People who share the same interests are likely your kind of people. Even if you don’t make real friends at first, you’ll learn some people’s names and you’ll have a few people to say hi to in the halls.
  • Take charge. Once you’ve got an idea who you want to meet, it’s up to you. Take a deep breath, pull up your big boy or big girl pants and start introducing yourself. Set a goal of meeting at least one new person a day. Say hello to the person who sits next to you in English class. Strike up a conversation with the person who has the locker next to yours. Remember – people like to talk about themselves. Think of a couple of questions you can ask each person and the conversation will take off almost by itself.
  • Keep but don’t retreat to old friends. Skype and Facebook and Twitter and texting and email and even the phone can let you stay in touch with old friends. That’s all good. But it can also be quicksand. If you let yourself spend hours and hours communicating with old friends, you’ll make it less likely that you’ll find new ones. By staying so connected to people who live hours away, you might keep yourself lonely in your own backyard

Full reference: Hartwell-Walker, M. (2011). When You’re the New Kid in School. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 5, 2011, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/2011/when-you%e2%80%99re-the-new-kid-in-school/

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