The Five Best Things I Did In My First Year at La Trobe

In my first year at La Trobe I was given so much advice about what to do and what I shouldn’t do, it was overwhelming. The reality is, everyone is different, so different things will work for you. Here are some great things I did in my first year that helped me in the long run.

To set the scene, in 2015 I started my Double Bachelor of Law/Psychological Science straight out of high school.  Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, 18 years old, pink haired and unashamedly dorky.

1. In all tutorials and lectures in the first year, I sat next to someone I didn’t know and introduced myself to them.

To be honest this was pretty scary for me. I was terrified that people wouldn’t like me or think I was weird. To be honest, I can’t guarantee that people didn’t think I was weird sometimes, but it worked out in the long run. Basically, everyone is in the same boat in the first year and as long as you don’t smell awful, people would be happy to chat to you. I met some really cool people this way that I am still friends with today.

2. Went to introductory camp.

Now I know to some people, this sounds awful. Even to me “Law Camp” sounded a little so-so. But,I coughed up the hundred and something dollars to go along for a couple nights and make some memories.

 I only knew one or two people at the start of the camp, but made so many friends by the end. Events at the start of the year are a really great way to meet like-minded people as everyone is there for the same reasons. I think the pink hair was a good icebreaker because everyone asked me about it. We also played paint Twister which was hella fun.

3. Attended all lectures and tutorials.

Ok, maybe not technically ALL of them, I went to most of them. The ones I missed at Uni, I always caught up on at home. At the start of Uni, my dad told me to imagine I was handing over $45 every time I entered a tutorial or lecture, which is about what the costs of my subjects worked out to. It’s easier said than done though and some weeks, I really had to push myself to get everything done. With lectures recorded and posted online, it was often tempting to skip a day and stay home.

Now I am in my third year and I still imagine that each time I walk into a tutorial or lecture, I am handing over $50 at the door for that time. It has been very motivating for me up to this day.

4. I attended heaps of social events and joined student groups!

Again, if you don’t have heaps of friends on campus, this is easier said than done. BUT, you only need to go along with a person you know a little to be a hundred times more comfortable. I found that while taking the first step was the hardest part, these events are actually really fun and everyone is willing to introduce you to new people.

Honourable mentions go to the crappy shirt party at the Eagle Bar (by which point I was back to being brunette) and the Law Ball (the start of my long-term relationship with blondehair).

In the long run, this helped me to network and make more friends. I love coming to Uni because most days I will meet a friend for coffee or have a study date. I’m a very social person, so this is a huge motivator for me.

5. I took the time to start exam preparation early.

Yuck. Exams. But, at the end of the day, it’s often the biggest measure of our success at University. I set aside about 3 hours a week to prep for exams which is often on a Sunday afternoon in my PJs. However, it did make a huge difference to my results. So many students put off exam study, I would highly recommend reserving a couple hours a week from the start of the semester to make your life a hundred times easier when exams come around.


Jo Rattray-Wood is a travel enthusiast and a lover of all things dog-related. Currently studying a Double Bachelor of Law/Psychological Science while trying to save money for future adventures. You can find her on Instagram @jorattraywood or Linkedin at www.linkedin.com/in/joannerattraywood.