Image: Flickr (Pryere- 'Life Advice')

#Lyfe101- How to adult

Words by Holly Hales | @hollyhales

As the fresh university year commences, young students everywhere are regretfully waving goodbye to a season of rural bush doofs, regional rock jumping enclaves they found on Instagram and evenings spent getting drunk on any of one our city’s rooftop bars. Alas, many are becoming reacquainted with the terrifying concept of “reality”.

Whether you’re an eager freshie or a veteran at the whole uni thing, a new semester is often wrought with equal parts hope, promise and dread, especially for those dealing with the very adult prospect of moving away from home.

As someone who faced these challenges prolifically over the past year, while treading dangerously close to the poverty line, I know the ins and outs of thriving in this most liveable city on a survival budget. Trade secrets can be liquid gold when navigating the twists and turns of university and beyond, no matter how ridiculous they may seem…

Don’t buy textbooks: Yes, this may seem like your academic promise is being hijacked before it’s even begun, but think of the dollars. Textbooks can cost up to $100 each, many of which you may not even need. Wait until your lecturer assigns readings from textbook and only when you’re at least two weeks behind in said readings and visibly struggling to grasp what is going on should you make any financial commitment to it. If it’s absolutely necessary to acquire a textbook check out secondhand suppliers like Academic & General in Moonee Ponds or

#Friends4lyfe: Apart from the eventual hope someone will one day employ you in the area you’ve paid $20,000 to get a degree in, university will also present opportunities for new friendships. Advice? Don’t rush. You’ll find your crowd eventually. There’s no need to jump on the back of the first people you lay eyes on at O-day. Three years is a long time and group chats can be exhausting. Choose carefully and find your mould.  

Pay your rent: Although this may seem obvious tender to a mid level functioning person, rent should always take precedence to other bills because there’s actually going to be an individual – aka your landlord – waiting to receive that money each month. Many times my Internet provider (shout out to Dodo!) have let me keep watching Netflix for four well-timed weeks after the bill has been due. I’ve found their nonchalance is never replicated by my real estate agent on the 13th of each month. So if anything is to be paid, rent is number one.

To kebab or not to kebab: Don’t buy kebabs after a night on the tiles; don’t buy kebabs at all. If my waltz with poverty taught me anything, it’s that food is damn expensive, especially the delicious kind. Alternatively, have some food at home that will satisfy you on arrival. It’ll probably be marginally healthier and you won’t be rapt with guilt for spending that for the next three days.

Dirt Water: It’s okay to drink 7/11 coffee the day before you get paid. Fuck the haters.

If you get a Myki fine, own it: In the moment you may want to go all Law & Order on the undercover that’s nabbed you, but unless you’re willing to concoct a bull ‘faulty machine’ story, cop the $75. Or just leg it, depending how confident you are as a runner. Another trick of the trade? Jump on the ‘Where are our PTV Mates’ Facebook page to stay up to date with where our PTV friends are around the network at

Dumpling o’Clock: It’s always time for dumplings. No matter what the occasion. They’re cheap and tasty but be careful when ordering the banquet at Camy Shanghai dumpling. Your eyes are always bigger than your stomach, trust us.

Use Uber; it’s faster, cheaper, more reliable. End of.

At the end of it all, you’re about to embark on an adventure of sorts. Stressful? Yes. Overwhelming? Yes. Ultimately a pleasurable experience? Yes AF.


Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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