#1: Make friends with people who live downtown
I cannot stress how important this is to do, especially to those of you who live as far into suburbia as me. Having a friend with a Ste.-Catherine St. address is like opening your social life to endless possibilities. This friend not only has access to all the great bars and clubs within a reasonable distance, but their apartment makes a great location for an hour of solid pre-drinking. But, even better than that, they often have a couch you could crash on! Because there is nothing worse than cabbing home by yourself, at 3 a.m., spending $25 to end up drunk at your parents house with no friends. Nothing, except maybe waking up in the McGill ghetto without your underwear (a lesson I learnt from a close friend one week into our first year).
But this relationship, like all successful relationships, is also about giving, especially when your friend is from out of town. Be sure to invite them over for a home-cooked meal, to offer your car for a trip to IKEA and to sometimes supply the pre-drink booze as a “thank you for letting me crash on your couch after Reggie’s Thursdays.”
#2 Don’t address emails to teachers with ‘Hey’
You are probably asking yourself, ‘who would be stupid enough to do this?’ The answer is: me. Late one night, I shot off an email to a teacher without rereading it. Big mistake. Sunday morning, I woke up to this reply: “Hey &- that’s a rude way to address one of your instructors.”
It’s an understatement to say I was mortified, and after sending out an apology email and spending hours refreshing my inbox, I received this response: “apology accepted…” This of course did not make our intimate 18-person class on Monday any less awkward. It is also important when entering university to create a professional email address you can use to contact teachers. It is hard to make a good impression when your writing from email@example.com
#3: Learn to like beer (or at least to drink it)
Before university I had never had a whole beer to myself. Despite a few sips, my friends and I go for wine, sangria or hard alcohol on nights out — none of which are popular drink choices at campus bars or for drinking games. So after spending my first year avoiding the stuff and therefore missing out on some typical university experiences, I decided enough was enough: it was time to start liking or, at the very least, drinking beer. I split my first-ever pitcher with another beer rookie but we both barely finished a glass before auctioning the rest off. Several nights out later we were veterans, managing to finish a pitcher on our own. I soon even started liking it. Now a year and a few pounds later, I can honestly say that forcing myself to like beer has saved me on numerous social occasions.
#4: Buy Concordia paraphernalia a.k.a. attend more Concordia related events and parties
This suggestion came from a friend of mine who is convinced that she would have more school spirit if she had purchased a Concordia University-embossed sweatshirt. While I doubt this is what makes a person more involved in school events, it raises a good point about school spirit: have some. Whether it comes in the form of attending sports game, guest speakers, or the annual Halloween party, these events on campus that enhance your university experience. Often, attending these events does more than fill you with school spirit; they are also great places to score free food, meet friends and network.
#5: Explore your campus and the surrounding blocks (and be careful crossing bike paths)
Filled with used bookstores, frozen yogurt restaurants, fashion boutiques, comic stores, sex shops, local cafÃ©s and pool halls, the blocks surrounding both Concordia campuses are worth checking out. Rather than spend your hour-long break eating Pad Thai, take a walk around and discover the area you will be inhabiting for the next three or more years.
Warning Tip: Treat bike paths like really busy intersections with 18-wheelers. Just how you always check both ways when crossing a busy street, do it when crossing bike paths — whether you’re on a bike or on your feet.