First Year Survival Guide

What is life, if not a Skyrim-esque role playing game with tonnes of side quests, shiny collectibles, and upgradable skills? As an incoming first-year student, you have been training for this moment in an 18-year long tutorial. You’re in for a treat because what ensues is another, even arduous 4-year long tutorial, which the developers intended to call “College” (fancy, eh). So much to gear you up for the main game, Life.

The Golden Rule.

Now, if you’ve ambled your way on to this particular article, chances are that you’re looking at MIT, Manipal as your college (of the various training grounds available all over the World Map), or you have already enrolled yourself here and are simply looking for a walk-through.
It’s so hilariously convenient for one to write a walk-through of college, that no one actually cares to write one. But I shall; here goes.

Walk-through: Pass all subjects. Don’t die.

You can always take the simplest, and the most straightforward way to the end of college. But in case you want to optimize your experience, and make the best out of it, you need to immerse yourself in a multitude of activities and side quests, thus enhancing your skills and forming memories. In the process, the complexity of college also increases several times.

Here are a few tips that will help you get through the first year of college. They’re categorised under four sets: gear, skills, exploration, and survival, for convenience.


  1.  Try not being the noob who gets lost on Day 1. Engineering Graphics labs are in AB1, PSUC Lab is in the Innovation Centre, Chemistry lab is the basement of AB1, and Physics lab is in the basement of AB2.
  2. Know your way in and around the campus. Did you know, there’s a road adjacent to AB2 leading to the back gate of AB5? It saves you a lot of time if you want to access the Hotel Ashlesh auto stand. There are several such shortcuts to explore and exploit.
  3.  Travel smart. Already excited for your first trip to Udupi or the beach? You can reach the former for a mere 16 (round trip) in a bus, while in an auto you would be shelling out 200.
  4. Leave places unexplored. Unless you plan to have nowhere new to explore in your second year, don’t be in a rush to go everywhere right in your first year. The thrill of looking over the valley from the gazebo at End Point for the first time, is incredulous. Take it from someone who saved it all the way till second year.
  5. Walk to NLH. Surprisingly, it will be faster than hailing an auto (unless you live in the 18th Block). This also keeps you fit, and helps you shed some of the calories you’ll voraciously ingest outside the campus on account of the travesty that they serve in the Food Court.
  6. Take a solo walk to End Point. If you feel low at any point of time in your semester, just leave your room; walk. Solo walks in Manipal are cathartic, and refreshing.

Gear and Money:

  1. Keep your friends close, and umbrellas closer. Invest in a good, sturdy one, and protect it like Smaug protects his gold. Here’s a bonus tip: Do not keep your umbrella on the drying racks, in the Food Court.
  2. Don’t buy all books on your first day. Spend a week, and gauge each subject and its syllabus. P Venugopal Rao will probably be the only book you’ll need, a copy of which you can pick up from the library. If you didn’t study C++ back in school, you might need additional resources, although you can find decent online sources for the same.
  3. One notebook to rule them all. Except for Maths. You’ll never need notes for BME, EVS, or English. You will be provided PDFs, and slides, for most other subjects.
  4. Insist on the loose change in shops. Candies are nice, but you’ll have a jar full of coins adding up to a few hundred if you save the chillars (spare change).
  5. Do your own laundry. The cost of availing the laundry service, aggregated over a semester easily runs into a couple of thousands. Doing a fraction of the laundry will help cut down the cost significantly. If you are sharing your room, reserve a portion of your room for a drying rack. 18th – 21st Block folks are at a huge advantage as they can utilise their common room for the same.
  6. Buy a kettle. Along with a stash of noodles, it is an absolute life saver in the boss levels of the college: examinations. Will save you money too.
  7. Invest in a good pair of shoes. The terrain of the town is such that there will be a lot of walking along slopes, and gravel laden roads. Get a comfortable pair of sturdy shoes, that will serve you on a daily basis for rough use. Flip-flops won’t last long, but a good pair of Woodlands will for four straight years.

Find a detailed money management guide here.


  1. Master the art of ninja texting in class. You might want to avoid a trip to a certain professor’s office and make a long and arduous apology in order to retrieve your confiscated phone. Not that we advocate such practices.
  2. Learn a language. No, not Spanish, or Japanese. Learn Kannada if you want your way around the shopkeepers and auto drivers. Knowing the language, coupled with a bit of politeness gets you concessions, and extra services. Learn Assamese if you want your way with the guards. Or, maybe you can befriend people who speak either language and stick around?
  3. Get yourself enough sleep. Because soon enough, you will be running on fumes (and coffee darker than your heart).
    Memorise the time durations you require to traverse from your room to FC, and FC to NLH. This comes in handy when you have a morning class and still want to catch a few more z’s.
  4. Maintain your attendance. Tattoo these words on your forehead, laterally inverted. Professors will be merciless if you fall short of even 1% of attendance. Stay on the safer side of 75% attendance and avoid repeating the subject in your second year.
  5. Get a good CGPA. College is all fun and games until they hand over your grades. From 3rd Semester onward the college will destroy your grades like Hasan Minhaj destroyed Trump. A good CGPA in your first year will reduce the damage. Here’s a detailed Guide to Academics.
    Though, here be dragons. College isn’t as easy as school. You may have been a topper in your school with stellar extra curricular activities. You may have been the Head Boy/Girl; the rockstar of your school, with a habit of winning. But be prepared to sit in a class of 80 rockstars, and a level playing field.
  6. Learn the colloquial names of places and the abbreviations. KC can be any of Kamath Canteen, Kamath Café or Kamath Circle (though more often than not, it is the last one). Temple Run is the name given to the route connecting the 16th, 17th and 18th blocks to the Food Court. FOA is nothing but AB2. TC is Tiger Circle. You’ll figure out what SP (truly) stands for, soon enough. Here’s Manipal A-Z, if you can’t wait to explore.


  1. Don’t sign up for everything. Don’t be the noob stuck in 7 different clubs, running from post to post, with no time to spare for academics. Take up fewer side quests, and focus on them. Also, try joining MTTN. They’re an amazing bunch and have cupcakes.
  2. Take good care of your health. Regardless of how pathetic the food in the Food Court might be, do eat on a regular basis. With no one around, you must take care of yourself. Given the lack of pharmacies in the campus, stock up on some medicines as well. You wouldn’t want a reason for your mom to worry about you, miles away, would you? Here are a few other places if you want a change of palate.
  3. Shift messes. It’s a myth that first years can’t shift messes. Girls can avail Ashraya mess, while guys can move to Annapoorna mess, or Aditya mess, if the Food Court seems unbearable.
  4. Try not to date someone right away. You may brush past that person in the lab and believe it’s love at first sight, but it might just be one of Satan’s cruel games with you. Ultimately, you might be left with a broken heart and a lighter pocket. Not to mention a possible drop in your grades. While it’s not unreasonable to think relationships made in first year will last, it sure is unlikely.
    Instead, make as many friends as you can. Over the semesters, your friends’ circle will keep changing, and quantitatively smaller. Therefore get to know as many people as you can in first year. You can find a few good conversation topics here.
  5. Don’t take signing late for granted. You may have a brilliant rapport with the caretakers, but don’t stretch their liberality too much. Once you make your way to the watch list, things can get unnecessarily messy (specially in the girls’ hostels). Try avoiding that.
  6. Don’t get caught drunk at KC. Unless you are fine risking the confiscation of your combo card, and a call to your parents, take an auto straight to your hostel. Again, we do not promote such behaviour, but even in the worst case scenario, it is better to sign late, than getting caught drunk anywhere outside your hostel.

Here’s a word of advice: do take college seriously, but have fun. Venture into side quests, and hustle to upgrade your skills. The four years of college will leave you with fond memories while developing you as a responsible adult capable of handling Life.
And at the end of 4 years, you may not remember the day you woke up at 7:50 to make it to an 8 AM class, but you’ll remember the 8 AM class you missed on account of a conversation till 3 AM, with your roommate about your purpose in life. You might not remember the time you bought another umbrella (after losing three), but the time you forgot it and a kind classmate offered to share hers, kindling a long lasting friendship. The first heartbreak, the answer sheet with a “3/15” sprawled over it, the impromptu race down Temple Run to reach your hostel on time, with your friends. These are the memories you’ll save in your game. Enjoy them, while they last.
– featured photograph by Manan Dhuri
– article, and designs by Agnihotra Bhattacharya

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