Things I wish someone had told me about LUMS — freshie year

zoha batool khan
10 min readAug 7, 2018

I’m writing from the perspective of a broke hostelite from Karachi who was not prepared at all for what a new city would be like.

This list will increase (started typing it up randomly at 7 pm) as I remember more things and if others remind me of more. If you have questions, comment them below or reach out to me. Good luck!

  1. I know everyone says you should start sticking to a budget immediately, to develop the habit. And it’s true: you should start from the very first day. But your first month is going to be ridiculously expensive anyway, despite your best efforts, because a) you need to make a lot of one-time investments like masalas, utensils (btw, have more than one of each in the cutlery dept — re: #16), etc., and b) you live in a family so you have no idea how to buy and prepare meals for one, which means you’re going to be throwing out a lot of food because you over-estimated (a lot). You can be the most conscientious thrifty little kid in your neighborhood back home but — trust me on this; I found out the hard way — you have no idea how fast tomatoes rot in your fridge or that cucumbers can grow fungus. Never buy anything perishable if you won’t immediately eat it. You’ll tell yourself that you’ll need it two days from now but I promise, you’ll forget about it until you gag from the stench in your fridge because it decayed in the back. Mourn the death and then toss it out. It’s okay; in two months, you’ll be much wiser about this. In the meantime, you can give away all your extra food to the domestic help in your dorms. Ask them what the procedure is and they’ll tell you.
  2. Start learning to cook the basics right now. PDC’s food is so bland, the water left over from boiling chicken is spicier than their salan. Even the basics go a long way. Unless you’re rich, because then you can afford to order. If your budget is anything below 20k per month, forget about being able to eat out. Forget convenience. That was a luxury you could afford only back home.
  3. You’re charged for any ‘damages’ to your hostel room. So get a plastic cover for your desk, and find tape that doesn’t leave a mark if you want to put anything up on the walls. Don’t let your shoes or laptop scrape against the wall because it’ll leave a long black streak. Don’t put too much weight on your bed or try to jump on it, because the mattress is supported by a big thin wooden board, which doesn’t take much to break (but you’ll be billed for the replacement). Don’t lose your keys because you’ll need to pay for an extra copy (if you lost your room keys, borrow your roommate’s and get a copy made for way cheaper).
  4. Another reason the first month of a semester is the most expensive: you’ll need to buy course-packs. Some teachers upload their notes online so you can just read them there but most compile them into books, which will be selling in a little shop in LUMS, above the grocery store. You’ll pay 1k for a stack of papers you will never touch again after these four months. So either start looking for buyers towards the end, or buy discounted notes from your seniors (a lot of them give them away for free).
  5. In my experience, the LUMS Super Store usually inflates prices, so if you want anything (and it isn’t an emergency), make a list of everything and go buy groceries at the beginning of every month. Carpool with a friend to cut down on transport costs — or make yourself a nice Lahori friend who’s generous with their car.
  6. Use one of the drawers under your bed to make a basic First Aid supply kit, with Dettol, saniplasts, Burnol, cough drops, cough syrup, painkillers, a brace, Moov, Vicks, a proper smog mask (should cost 300 something) instead of just that weird surgeon thing, etc. Because you’re going to be falling sick.
  7. Continuing from #6: if you’re from any city where the winter lasts two weeks (*cough* Karachi *cough*), you and your 96% lawn ki wardrobe are not ready for Lahore’s winter. At all. You need to get a shit ton more winter clothes made — personally, fake fur jackets work like magic — or you’re going to fall horribly sick in December, which is when finals start. I’m talking throwing-up, congested-chest levels of sick which force you to skip your exams, because the LUMS doctor will not back your request for a sick leave unless you have a burning fever exactly when you meet her, and without that, no teacher will excuse you, and will give you a zero on quite possibly the biggest part of your grade.
  8. Talk to your roommate to get the room swept once a week; split the bill evenly. Tip heavily, because the domestic help cleaning up after you is trying to make a living too, and if uni should teach you anything, it’s that if your one meal costs 200, theirs doesn’t magically cost only 50. Tipping should done according to realistic expenses, not to dispose of whatever chillar you have.
  9. Your classes might be terrible and soulless (Islamiat) but you want to attend them for the attendance grade — and by extension, the class participation grade. Combined, they can make the difference of a letter grade (which impacts your GPA and then your TA-ship chances down the line). This obviously means you will need your sleep, so if you want to do tumblr shit like watch the sun come up (whyyy), save that for the weekends. If you want to one-up that, avoid 8am sections like the plague (which they are), and arrange your schedule to have Friday off to do more useless things. But be careful — one slip and your entire sleep schedule will be fucked beyond belief, and can take weeks to reset, during which your grades will drop because you can’t pay attention for shit and everything hurts — if you’re actually taking challenging courses. (I personally stocked a lot of black tea so, every morning, I would always boil a mug with two tea-bags, sugar and cinnamon, and then pour it into a bottle to chug through my three back-to-back classes)
  10. Save drastic haircuts for the breaks because a) someone you trust will be supervising while you get it done by a professional and b) if it’s bad, you can wait a month (minimum) at home while you grow it out.
  11. If life is just a struggle with money for you too, you will be travelling by train. If your parents prefer that you travel in a cabin with trusted friends and associates, you will want to start looking for a group six weeks in advance, because it will take you at least two weeks to assemble one. You will then want to book your tickets in advance as well (four weeks), because those things sell out fast, especially if you’re looking for an empty cabin’s worth.
  12. If you’re one of those types who’s super excited about learning, this is for you: give yourself a couple of days to go through your pick of courses so you can make an evenly balanced schedule. Try going for 3 new courses that cover totally new territory, and 2 that elaborate on stuff you already have a grasp of (because of your previous education).
  13. If you’re gunning for the Dean’s Honor List before you’ve stepped foot on campus: you need a minimum of 16 credit hours per semester to start. After that, you need a GPA of 3.6 per semester. If you get it in only one, don’t worry. You don’t get on the DHL but you do get a special mention on your transcript.
  14. Get an umbrella. The first thing you need to buy when you get to Lahore is an umbrella. It might look sunny but do not be fooled (I was). The first week of my classes, it rained everyday. You couldn’t even think of running because you’d slip and fall flat on your face. Even if you tried, you got soaked anyway, so you would be shivering in class because they’d be blasting the AC full force.
  15. If you want to stop spending money, stop carrying it with you. Leave your wallet in your room when you go out (this actually helps because your friends are also too broke to loan you anything).
  16. Theft is a thing in LUMS. Lock your door when you sleep because people sneak into your room to steal your devices (yes, this has happened to hundreds). Don’t leave your keys in the vent because everyone does this (also, it’s against the rules so it’ll be confiscated).
  17. Get a mini fridge for your room. Secondhand is cheaper. Appliance charges are 1k per month, which is a lot more than you’ll lose from your food going missing from the communal fridge (re: #16). You’ll need to clean it out a handful of times during the year, but it’s an investment that’s worth it (also re: #1).
  18. Join LUMS Discussion Forum. It’s a Facebook group where a lot of useful shit is posted, like course packs for sale, honest teacher reviews, turnitin accounts you can use for your essays, etc.
  19. You’ll be assigned an O-week orientation group. If you like it, great. If you don’t, feel free to completely ignore them after the first day. It’s not the end of your friend-making opportunities. You can also join societies but if you’d like to settle in before you take on more responsibilities, that’s cool too. There’s no limit. Also, a better reason would be so you have more stuff to brag about on your resume (eyes on the prize).
  20. Don’t lose your ID card and don’t break it. That shit costs 1500 to replace.To get a new smart card made — copied from a super helpful LDF post:

· E-mail vigilance

· They send you a fee voucher that you have to pay at MCB (can be paid off at the LUMS MCB Booth). It costs Rs 1500/-

· Take the depositor’s copy of the fee voucher to the Security Office

· Get your smart card the very next evening

Edited: In case you want to get your picture changed as well, at Step (3) let the security office know your request. They’ll ask you to send out an e-mail to vigilance with your presentable picture.

21. If you’re a kid who is on or wants to get on financial aid, you want to start preparing your documents in November, because that’s when application time starts. It usually ends in the last week of January but trust me when I tell you that things will be way too crazy to get it done at the last minute.

22. Get yourself a massive suitcase, the biggest you can get your hands on. This will be important when the year ends because you’ll be expected to clear your whole room out (anything you leave behind becomes LUMS property) and you’re allowed to stow away only the belongings you can fit into your one cardboard box downstairs in the storage. So start posting your things home at least one month in advance, or find Lahori friends who are generous enough to lend you space in their storage.

23. On a tangent from #22, you will find your cardboard boxes (for packing) from all the department stores and malls nearby. Even though there are many such buildings in your vicinity, you want to go box-hunting at least one week in advance because everyone from LUMS will descend like a horde of furies last minute, just like you, so you’ll find nothing, except maybe shoe-boxes.

24. Btw, LUMS’ hostel kitchens contain a big communal fridge, two microwaves, two stove tops, two toasters, and one water filter. Everything else is to be brought by you (and stashed in your room or it’ll be stolen). I brought a blender to make milkshakes and coffee in. It also helps with garlic paste.

25. That 300k per semester figure you see on the website? That’s false. For the first year, at least, you’ll have a minimum of roughly 70k as admission fees. There’s also 50k extra for hostels, 5k extra for appliance charges, yearly fake hostel room damages, a price hike in the fees as you move up, the travel costs between cities/countries (because you have to go back home during the break), the budget every month just to feed yourself (15k is a minimum if you don’t want to be starving by the last week) etc. There are a lot of hidden costs when it comes to LUMS. You might want to start looking for a job about halfway into freshie year, to help your parent(s) offset your growing uni costs. That gives you enough time to settle in and find your groove.

26. In the first week of uni, you’ll get a handbook. There’s a PDF available on the LUMS portal if you ever lose your hard copy but try not to, because — believe it or not — that thing is actually important. What I found about a month before freshie year would end was that there are a bunch of pages in there that tell you what kind of courses you need to take for your degree. You can’t just go around studying whatever you like (the dream); you have to cover a certain number of courses pertaining to your major (some of them above 300 level and some below), and then a number within your school but not of your major, and then a number regarding your minor (btw, you can do a double minor) which can’t overlap with the first two categories (one course can only fulfill one category’s requirements), and then a number from outside your school. Surprisingly, that’s a lot to cover in just four years, especially if you’re in HSS where there are never enough courses to go around. If you don’t entirely understand how it all works, that’s okay. You can book an appointment with counselors (in your first year, you’re assigned one and if they suck, you can go to Eliya Mohsin to report their incompetence; after that, you can pick one that’s actually relevant to your major). As long as you’ve read the pages, you’ll know what questions to ask, instead of just showing up at their office and waste their time by demanding they explain everything to you (which they won’t, because their job isn’t to spoonfeed you).

27. If you’re ever struggling to pay your fees for whatever reason, you can ask for an extension. Download the form off the LUMS Portal and print it out to fill. If you’re significantly ahead of time, you can print out the copies of the documents they want and then TCS them. But if that isn’t an option, scan and attach everything to an email meant for the RO. Just make sure you do it a day before the actual deadline, before 3 pm ( yeah, they have a deadline for submission… for a deadline extension).