SLICE: When the party turns into a hangover

By Naledi Mashishi

IT’S THAT time of the year again when wide-eyed first years, still wearing their matric jerseys, descend on Wits University campuses for the first time.

Entering university is like entering an alternate world: the buildings are bigger, the crowds are larger, and everything is seemingly much more relaxed than parents and teachers have made it sound.
You don’t have to go to school assemblies, or wear uniforms, or cheer at house events. In fact, there’s no one telling you to do anything. There’s no teacher ordering you to go to class, or calling your parents when you don’t do your work, or yelling at you for having the wrong colour hair.

When you enter university, the world is your oyster. In fact, the world is a party. You’re exposed to so many new sights and sounds and people. Societies clamour to convince you to sign up, you can queue on the library lawns to get your name printed on a coke can, and your nights are long evenings filled with dancing and drinking, with no mom back at home to tell you to be back before curfew.

But inevitably it happens. You go from getting As and Bs in high school to praying for a 50%. The “one or two” lectures you miss result in you being weeks behind your work. The late nights turn from parties to last minute 2000-word essays.

And after another unappetising meal of chips and pizza at the dining hall, all you want is to taste mom’s cooking. The excitement you felt from entering varsity turns into feelings of anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, far from your support structure, and overall sense of feeling alone. The great party turns into a hangover.

When talking about the transition from high school to university, much emphasis is often placed on the workload. In reality, one of the biggest shifts often experienced is on your mental health.

The pressure of varsity work, the knowledge that family members have sacrificed immensely for you to be able to go to university, and the alienation that comes from being in a new, unfamiliar environment surrounded by unfamiliar faces, can all play a negative role on your mental well-being. In a number of cases, this leads to anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts.

So how do you cope? There are a number of mechanisms students can use to keep their stress levels down and mental health in check. And drinking alcohol is not one of them. Coming up with a study strategy that allows you to keep up with your readings and school work by working consistently throughout the term, rather than leaving work until the last minute, can help reduce the stress and anxiety that comes with last minute work.

Joining one of the numerous societies on campus can help build solid friendships with new people and provide a great hobby that keeps the stress at bay.

The most important step is to ask for help. Ask your lecturers and tutors for help when you are struggling with your schoolwork. Reach out to your friends and family when you need a shoulder to cry on.
Importantly, there are a number of campus counselling facilities such as the Counselling and Careers Development Unit (CCDU). Reach out to them when you feel that you’re battling to cope.
Above all, remember that you’re not alone and that there is help available.

Honestly, you’ll be okay.

One common course for all first-year engineering students

By Naledi Mashishi

First-year engineering students will now complete the Common First Year course which will teach core subjects equally across the board.

STARTING in 2019, all first-year engineering students, regardless of branch of engineering, will begin their studies with the new Common First Year (CFY) course which will teach core subjects such as science and maths equally across all branches.

Although students are still expected to register for a specific branch from first year, the new CFY course means that students who choose to change branches in second year, will now be able to do so without taking an additional year.

The different engineering branches at Wits include: architecture and planning; civil and environmental engineering; chemical and metallurgical engineering; construction economics and management; electrical and information engineering; mechanical, industrial and aeronautical engineering; and mining.

Executive dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, Prof Ian Jandrell, told Wits Vuvuzela that in addition to maths and science, the new course will include communications, problem solving, understanding the engineering profession, and design.

First-years will also be expected to complete a Humanities course. “[This is] speaking to the growing need for engineers to be cognisant of their role in society right from the very start of their university career,” Jandrell said.

The CFY course will be assessed by a team of academics across all the faculty’s schools, under the oversight of the Academic Development Unit. According to Jandrell, there will be continuous assessments, dedicated test weeks after the Autumn and Spring breaks, and the final assessment at the end of the year, will be done through the submission of portfolios.

“Students whose overall result is between 45 and 49% will be invited to an oral exam, but this is the only exam for the course,” he said.

Third-year BSc metallurgic engineering student, Asakundwi Ramurafhi, said that the introduction of the CFY was an improvement on the previous years.

“The differing first year [courses] put people at a disadvantage in second year because of the differing intensities of the courses. I wish we had had a joint first year for the more difficult courses like maths to make second and third year easier,” she said.

Jandrell said that the CFY course aimed to produce a “21st century engineer” who can work across boundaries, is confident in their own abilities, and is willing to learn and serve in society.

FEATURED PHOTO: The Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment is introducing a Common First Year course for all first-year engineering student.

Photo: File

Muggers chased down in Braam

Two suspects were chased down by Wits students and arrested by security guards after they tried to rob a female student in Braamfontein last weekend.

The suspects approached her with a knife on the corner of Bertha and Stiemens streets and stole her bag around 8:30pm last Saturday.

Matthews Bisse, 1st year BSc, was walking along De Korte Street with two friends when he heard a scream.

Listen to Bisse’s eyewitness account below.

Mboniseni Sikhwari, a security officer for a private security company, said the suspects approached him before he heard the call for “backup” on his radio.

One of the suspects was chased by a motorist along Jorissen Street, while Bisse and his friends intercepted the other outside Braamfontein Lofts.

The suspects were arrested by Urban Genesis security officers, who are contracted by Wits to patrol walking areas around the university.

A case was opened with Campus Control and the police.

Bisse said he was ahead of his friends as they chased the thieves.

“… what we’ve read on Vuvuzela that people are being mugged just gave me confidence when I saw that I wasn’t alone … there were a lot of us chasing that guy.”

Sikhwari said muggins are more common during university terms. He advised students to be more streetwise.

Listen to Sikhwari’s advice to students below.

Michael Mahada, Campus Control investigations manager, said Campus Control does not escort students to off-campus residences but has arranged with Urban Genesis security guards to do so.

Wits Vuvuzela was unable to reach the student.

Published in Wits Vuvuzela, 17th edition, 27 July 2012.

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