Nice to see you again

Hello there. How was your summer? Ready for a big year?

Yes, it's a warm ''welcome'', or ''welcome back'' to the 20,000 (mostly) young folk gathering for the start of the new semester at the University of Otago.

The signs of the latest incoming flood of students to Dunedin are already evident.

Look, there's the latest crop of freshers checking into their halls of residence. Aw, lovely, there's Mum and Dad towing the trailer with the mattress and the old dining table and the desk. And uh oh, there go the Lime scooters in the Leith.

Whether you are among the 85% of students from outside Dunedin who have come to this fair city, or you are one of the locals, it is wonderful to see you here.

The University of Otago is the city's biggest employer, a giant contributor to the economy with a glorious history and a bright future - just check out the massive ongoing projects, including the new dental school, and the investment in infrastructure - and a highly influential place of learning and discovery.

Most of all, the university - and you, the students - gives Dunedin spirit and soul.

Oh, sure, we have had our issues in the past. You have occasionally expressed your taste for alcoholic beverages a little boisterously, treated your flats and the streets around them a bit more like a rubbish tip than we would have liked, and done less sitting on and more burning of couches than was recommended.

But you've started to listen. Anti-social behaviour is on the wane, and binge drinking is starting to dip. Perhaps you've realised that the full student experience can still be had without endangering your criminal record or liver.

Our advice - from one of the few Dunedin institutions, this daily newspaper, even older than your university - is to make the most of this year.

Make the most of the world-class education you receive from the best lecturers and tutors in New Zealand.

Try an interesting new subject. Aim to become the 63rd Rhodes Scholar from Otago, or make a scientific breakthrough, or follow in the footsteps of the hundreds of pioneers in various fields.

Make the most of the opportunity for significant social and personal development. Meet new people. Make friends. Go flatting, learn how to cook something other than mince and pasta, have fun, and grow.

Make the most of the almost limitless cultural and recreational opportunities offered by the university and this city.

Join a club or a musical group. Play a sport. Explore the beauty of our region and its museums and its cafes and its galleries and its nightlife.

Make the most of an important year at the University of Otago, which celebrates 150 years in education. Take part in some of the festivities. Learn more about your place of learning.

For some of you, this all might be a struggle. Tertiary study might not be for you, for any number of reasons, and the appeal of student life in Otago might evaporate before you can say ''sapere aude'' (dare to be wise), the university's motto. We pass no judgement on you for that.

We've seen many thousands of you come and go. We enjoy the vibrancy you bring to the city, and take pride in your achievements.

We are not one of your lecturers but we will take this opportunity to pass on some final advice.

Be a sponge - soak it up and learn lots.

Stay safe - drink responsibly, and don't presume the student zone is a place where you can afford to leave your front door unlocked.

Enjoy reading Critic - but don't forget to buy the Otago Daily Times. And leave those darn scooters on the footpath.

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