UWI Mona Demystified: 7 pieces of advice to help you in your first year

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Woi! Big up yourself and welcome to the Pelican family. The University of the West Indies Mona is arguably the flagship tertiary institution of all tertiary institutions in Jamaica, and now that you’re a UWI fresher that makes you a pretty big deal *pops collar*. But don’t get too jumpy, as UWI is no bed of roses. From the struggle with Monadisconnect to Beehive tough gravel rice, there are so many hurdles you will have to jump on your daily commute to and from or on the campus. But rest assured, I have compiled a list of 7 pieces of solid advice, based on personal experience and the experiences of others before me, that could make your life way easier if you try them out:
1. Get your Foundation courses buried from now. 
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You’ll be required to do 3 mandatory foundation courses during your stay at the UWI Mona. These are Critical Reading and Writing, Science and Technology and Caribbean Civilization. Now, according to UWI, the order in which you do them is up to you since you’re an adult and have your life all figured out. Most of you would’ve done Caribbean studies in sixth form, so it makes sense to use that faculty of knowledge while it’s still fresh and bury these courses. Don’t wait until your third year, when your final year courses are at their hardest and then run the risk of failing and having to go summer school or spend an extra semester/year.  Save your pocket the stress, and bury them from now
2. Use your Thursdays wisely and Join a club/society
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Clubs and societies are the foundation blocks of UWI Mona, and second to the halls of residences are significant drivers of culture on campus. They are also excellent spaces to build your social and professional network, in and outside of the UWI. Visit the Office of Student Services and Development to collect a free booklet and in this you’ll find the most comprehensive directory of all registered clubs and societies currently active on campus. Through clubs and societies the possibilities are really endless, and with this recent interest from Corporate Jamaica in these entities over the last 5 years, the benefits are bound to double up. Some great clubs to check out this year are the UWI Marketing Association (UMA), UWI Banking League, CARIMAC Students’ society and the UWI Young Investors Club
3. You can leave campus and buy food, detention-free
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When it comes to food choices on campus, unfortunately there is where the UWI Mona has fallen short. Choices for a while now have been limited to fast food, “snackables” and traditional Jamaican cooked food. To those of you with a wild appetite, I know this feels like a punch in the stomach but don’t worry, the options are actually quite bountiful. A simple walk over UTECH will present Burger King and Island Grill at your disposal, and further down the road Wendy’s, Pizzahut and the infamous Sovereign food court awaits you. Also, use up the free bus; it’s your miscellaneous fees at work.
4. Don’t skull tutorials 
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Better you neglect on your lectures than your tutorials in all honesty, because you can pretty much lecture yourself from reading the slides. Tutorials now, are supplementary learning that serve to reinforce the lesson delivered in a lecture. So you see, lectures pretty much touch on the surface but tutorials dig into the flesh. For that deeper understanding (that you’ll be tested on) about the course, go to your tutorials.
5. Make friends with people in higher years than you
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It might seem a little intimidating at first, but older students are not as mean as they usually look. That look we have is sometimes a result of the stress of 2nd and 3rd year courses, but for the most part you can get help if you ask the right way. I’m not saying you should be weird and go up to a group of seniors asking them to be your friend. No. Try to go through a friend of a friend, link with them through a club/society/sport or start a conversation if you see them one away. UWI people are actually nice…….sometimes. Having friends who have been there and done that will undoubtedly help you better navigate through the darkness of your first year.
6. Treat this year as if it counted towards your degree 
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The determination of your degree class actually starts in your second year, a fact often not adequately emphasized upon in orientation activities. I would like to believe the UWI Mona does this because they don’t want students to deliberately under-perform, and while I agree with them to this extent, I still think this is information you guys should know from the start. Try your best to break your own academic expectations in first year and get a high GPA. Going into 2nd year with a good GPA is easier to maintain than if you had a bad one, for obvious reasons.
7. Don’t fall in love
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The only thing you should be loving during your 3-5 years of study is OURVLE, your respective syllabi and YOURSELF. Ladies especially, he could be the most “perfectest” guy you’ve ever met, don’t drop the catch. Most guys at UWI and college in general, only have one thing in mind for their experience: Up the number from high school and experience everything (well, not every EVERY THING but you know what I mean). Manz dem, a serious relationship can be expensive and physically strenuous and with the pressures that UWI will already advance on you, you may very well crash and burn. Leave love for after your first degree, in fact, after your masters when you money up and you’re wise enough to see through the fakers. But of course, there are exceptions to this piece of advice and if you happen to find such an exception then work with it. Just don’t get too lost in the grandeur that is love.

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