By Mpho Raborife & Lynn Nowers
You’ve finally completed your schooling career and are ready to take on the challenges of varsity. Before you start celebrating the fact that you’re away from home and finally getting a chance to truly express yourself, you need to be informed with a few reality checks about this place.
Upon arriving at Rhodes, you will be met with pamphlets galore informing you about the various courses available to you, the different societies you will be encouraged to join as well as introductory lectures which you’re advised to attend. The aim of introductory lectures is for the different faculties to give you more information about the different subjects which are on offer, helping you to make a more informed choice. By the end of O-Week you will know that a DP (a Duly Performed certificate) is not a concept to be taken lightly.A DP certificate is a measurement of your performance in a specific subject and will be taken away if you don’t hand in your assignments, attend compulsory tutorials or absenteeism from tests.
The adjustment from high school workloads to varsity workloads can be testing, especially on top of being homesick. Unenceba Rakale, a second year Journalism student says “It [the work] gets a lot more stressful towards the end of the year”. A crucial tip from Nomathamsanqa Mhlakaza, a second year Law student, is that “Taking notes in class is very important”. Remembering what you have heard is like sand through a sieve if it’s not written down.
An increased workload aside, there are also social and personal obstacles to deal with. Homesickness isn’t something that will necessarily go away after the first few weeks at varsity. It’s a sneaky thing that can pop up at any time. Anele Ngwenya, a second year BA student, says “For me it came towards the middle of the year, when I realised what was happening at home and what I was missing out on.” Ngwenya says that while phoning home and being surrounded by friends may help, for a lot of people the feeling never really goes away. “I just have to remember that one of the reasons I’m so far from them is because I have things to get done here,” explains Ngwenya.
Another challenge that comes with the new social scene is staying true to yourself. With no old friends or family to keep your feet on the ground, you may be tempted to go wild.
“It’s really easy to become a party animal,” says Rakale .Students need to remember that they are responsible for themselves. “I’ve seen how others have lost themselves in this big environment,” says Ngwenya. “You get here and you’re basically nothing. People just get involved in things because they know no one is going to judge them. But you can choose not to let this place do that to you. You need to find things that keep you secured.”
It’s not that you shouldn’t enjoy yourself, just remember that if you play hard you need to work hard too. This is going to be one of the most exciting and trying times of your life, so grab the opportunity with both hands. Take time to meet different people and try new things. Remember to balance work and play, and to make decisions that you feel comfortable with and for goodness sake, you have been warned – keep your DP!