Keep left, pass out right: basic Rhodes rules

By Danielle Brock, Rodain Joubert, Ilana Koegelenberg, Filipa de Oliviera, Samantha Scott and Candace Whitehead

Here are some tips on surviving your first week at Rhodes.  Read them or reap the consequences later.

Getting dressed for success
The first rule on dressing, whether it’s for a night out or just for lectures, is to remember – this is not Cape Town, Joburg or Durban: it’s Grahamstown. Therefore, there are a few things you should avoid. Tiny skirts, high heels and expensive tops are a no-no (if you’re a guy, we suggest avoiding them altogether), and especially on a night out. Trust us – falling around in heels and a mini is not flattering at all. Besides… you have a lot of walking ahead of you. Heels get painful and blisters in O-Week are not fun. Avoid wearing white – guys too – because not even the best washing powder can fix what a night out at Friar Tuck’s does to your clothes. Top of the list – do not to lose your belongings! Keys, cellphones and wallets are annoying to replace. Deep pockets are very convenient for guys and girls, carry a handbag, or if you have to, chain your keys to your jeans or underwear. Just remember one golden rule and you’ll be sorted – being comfortable is more important than looking good!

Doing the sober thing
So, perhaps you don’t drink. Or maybe you don’t feel like hanging too badly for tomorrow’s lectures. Whatever the case, being sober can still be made tolerable, even in the alcohol-soaked climate of Grahamstown. Of course, if you’re made of more stern stuff you may just want to hang out with your drunken buddies. However, realise they’re going to have horrifically lower standards regarding humour, where to go, and choice of random people to hang out with. You have been warned! If you’ve managed to get a group of non-sloshed students to go out with you, then places like Roxbury, Old Gaol, Slipstream and De Taphuijs (especially for its awesome gigs) are all available for a good time with no booze needed. For those with finer ideas of relaxation, a picnic in the Botanical Gardens (right next to campus), the 1820 Settlers monument or attending one of Rhodes’ frequent drama shows or art exhibitions is hardly out of the question. Failing that, it’s always awesome to just slip a DVD into your friend’s computer and sit munching popcorn with them in their room. Use your imagination and you’ll quickly see that Friar’s and drunken hook-ups aren’t the only way to have a good time during O-Week, Grahamstown in general.

The late-night food hunt
You’re at university, this automatically means you don’t act like a regular person. You also don’t eat like a regular person or at regular times. Luckily, Grahamstown knows this and is willing to help you out. Debonairs is a great place to go – it’s directly en-route to all the party places, making it ideal for grabbing a meal after predrinks. You could also swing next door to Olde 65 for their famous burgers (maybe downing another drink while you’re at it), or visit other burger hotspots such as Mr. Burger near Friar’s and the hidden gem after midnight – Steers. The single most awesome source of boerie rolls in Grahamstown has to be Mama Pam in front of the Rat & Parrot. She’ll be out there most evenings and into the early hours of the morning. For the ultimate god of late-night food, however, you’ll be wanting the 24 hour BP, just past Peppergrove Mall. Chip rolls, popcorn and many more yummy munchies are available at any time, and most nights will have people you know gathering together for a BP run at an unholy hour. Remember: if you’re hungry late at night, chances are your buddies will be too. So give them a shout and get going!

Keeping it all down
Before going out, the first rule to prevent you from throwing up is to line your stomachs with food, preferably anything with carbs. Secondly – know that although crackling might seem like a good idea, it is not. If you are going to drink wine, do not mix it with ANYTHING. Although mixing alcohol in general is a bad idea, the one concoction that will leave you feeling terribly ill is shots of creamy-things. It will curdle in your stomach, and will lead you straight to the bathroom. No matter what your friends say, strohrum is the devil. When the point comes (and it will come) where you begin to feel queasy after excessive consumption of alcohol, start drinking water. It will begin to flush out the booze, and after a few glasses you’re good to carry on partying. Lastly, know your alcohol tolerance before you head out, once you have stepped over your limit you will end your night over the toilet.

Surviving the communes
You’ve moved into residence. For many of you, this is the first time that your only private space is your res room and you now have to share common rooms and bathrooms with at least 30 other students. To survive, there are a few things you need to know. Res life will be more pleasant when you have friends. During O-Week making new friends may often be daunting, especially if it’s your first time away from home. When you’re in your room, leave your door open and strike up conversation with passers-by. Your neighbours are great first targets. Secondly, respect the people you live with. If your res mates are happy with your habits, life is easier. This includes following the laundry schedule, respecting the privacy of others and not always blasting your music. Leave a good first impression on your wardens and subwardens, and your stay will be more enjoyable. Therefore – don’t get fined in O-Week. Although the dining hall food may not seem too bad for the first two weeks, it soon becomes repetitive. Change your meals on ROSS as soon as possible! Res functions have hoards of good food so take full advantage, especially of those during O-Week. Living in res means a change in lifestyle but as the year passes on this you will call it home. In the meantime these tips are sure to help.

The lights are on and you’re not at home
We’re not talking about naps with your significant other, rather those one-night hook-ups, and yes, they do happen. The first thing to remember – don’t attempt these with anyone in your circle of friends, people in your tutorials and people you know to be downright dodgy. Try hook up with people who live close to your res – it saves a walk. Be prepared for what you see in the morning. Beer goggles are a common and unavoidable phenomenon, so bear in mind that the Josh Hartnett lookalike you get with the night before may suddenly turn out to look more like Pavarotti when you wake up. In the morning, there are a number of general rules – do not try to make out with the person when they wake up. Chances are they’re feeling very, very stupid and rather hungover. Wake up, collect your belongings and prepare to pull a vanishing act and take (dramatic pause) the Walk of Shame. This time-honoured tradition has one certainty – you will see people you know on your way out. However, to avoid this: do NOT leave during breakfast. Do remember, chances are that nap-overs won’t lead to a long-term relationship, so don’t get your hopes up!

Get lucky at Friar’s
Almost every single student at Rhodes can lay claim to the fact that they made out with someone at Friar’s. However, very few can claim they did it with style. The golden rule of hooking up is, as we all know, don’t try too hard. Stay out of big groups – try to ease into a group of three people. Once someone’s caught your eye, remember that pick-up lines do not work. Once you’ve ascertained your potential’s name (and hopefully gender), remember that friendly conversation is the way forward. Do not randomly wander up to somebody and started grinding up against them – pulling into them without checking who they’re with first could lead to a broken jaw. A good way to go about hooking up is to take a wingman or a wingwoman to do the groundwork first, just so you don’t come off looking like a complete moron. Just like naps – hooking up at Friar’s does not guarantee a relationship. By the time it gets to about 2am, people are looking to hook up with anybody with a pair of lips (or even not) – so don’t expect a call the next morning.

How to spend your money
So we all know the feeling – your folks leave you with some extra cash to get you started, and by the end of O-Week, you’re broke and you don’t know why. The Activate team is convinced that there is a black hole in Grahamstown that actually swallows your money without you actively spending it, but we digress. Firstly, set yourself a limit. Whether you’re going to BP to buy munchies, spending a night out drinking, going out to dinner or just buying random stuff, make sure you know you only have a certain amount to spend. Learn the cheaper places – eat at Steers, drink at The Union, Champs or Sports Bar before hitting the Rat, buy predrinks and avoid random missions to Pick ‘n Pay to buy doughnuts. A good idea when going out is to know what places have specials when – during O-Week, there are loads and loads of specials. Don’t overtip the barmen (but do tip them!), don’t buy random people drinks, and drink simply – don’t buy Southerns and lime or cocktails when you can just drink a beer or vodka. Most importantly: do not, under any circumstances, take your card out with you. Follow these steps and you should last the month.

Hanging? This might help…
Most people know that a hangover after a great night out is not the best feeling in the world. What most people don’t know is that there are simple ways to fight the lukewarm-death feeling we profoundly suffer the morning after. Your head feels like it’s being hacked off with a blunt knife, your tongue’s stuck to the roof of your mouth and your stomach’s churning. The best thing to do – drink water, lots of it. If you get home conscious enough to function at a minimal level, get a glass of water next to your bed and drink up. Two Panados before you go to sleep is a wise idea too. If you have any money left, get your friends to buy you some biltong and coke. If all else fails and you’re feeling particularly brave, (or stupid – you decide), try taking a shot of whatever you drank the night before. Note that this should only be done if you’re desperate, have been dared to by a friend or wake up still drunk from the night before. The best thing to do is often the simplest and we suggest you spend the day sleeping. Happy hanging!

The 10 Golden Rules of the first few weeks:
1. Don’t join 1000 societies – it does not make you a better person.
2. Know your alcohol tolerance. Throwing up on your first night is not cool. Really not cool.
3. Learn where “home” is before going out and getting drunk.
4. Don’t go out alone. You look like a loser, AND it’s dangerous.
5. Avoid getting into a relationship during O-Week. Or arriving in one.
6. Go on the library tour – and learn how to work the Jac Labs. Now.
7. Do new things and meet new people.  Don’t be afraid to explore.
8. Bushdiving is NOT a national sport. And it leaves you itchy.
9. Hook your keys to yourself. Or to someone else.  Being locked out of your room at 3am sucks.
10. Do not get hickies in O-Week. It severely lowers your chances of scoring the next night.

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