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A guide to surviving your first year of Hogwarts





Starting Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is a bit different to a Muggle school. Sure, theres anxiety about getting your uniform and books, but there are also poltergeists throwing things.



Enter into negotiations with the Sorting Hat



One of the first initiation tasks at Hogwarts is to get sorted into your Hogwarts house but you dont have to just sit there without a discussion. During Harrys experience, he had a full-on internal debate with the Sorting Hat (which can communicate with you inside your head) on whether he should be in Slytherin or Gryffindor. More people should try this! The next seven years of your life is pretty tied to this moment after all.



In fact, the Sorting Hat can get stumped itself  this phenomenon is called a Hatstall, where the Sorting Hat takes over five minutes to decide on a students house. Both Hermione and Neville nearly ended up outside of Gryffindor due to the hats indecision.



Remember your password (or just generally how to get into your common room)



Once the small matter of your Hogwarts house is determined, its important to know how on earth to get into your common room, seeing as every one has its own set of rules. For Gryffindors and Slytherins, a simple password is all you need, but for Hufflepuffs, you must tap a barrel in a specific sequence to enter your common room, and for Ravenclaw, even worse!  you answer a new riddle every time to get in, which feels exhausting. Sure, Ravenclaws famously have wit beyond measure, but we all have off-days.



Watch out for ghosts (and one poltergeist)



It's always a big deal moving to a new place, meeting new people, etc.  but its an even bigger deal when some of your co-inhabitants are dead. Despite this small fact, they are still very active around Hogwarts (Nearly Headless Nick is particularly talkative) and if you walk through one, youll be hit by an awful, icy chill. Still, weve all had frosty exchanges with new acquaintances, right?



Youll also want to stay clear of a different sort of apparition, Peeves the poltergeist, who has dwelled in the castle for centuries with nobody successfully being able to remove him. Some of Peeves favourite pastimes include making up mean little songs about you, causing general chaos and tormenting the cantankerous caretaker, Argus Filch.



Also, watch out for Filch and Mrs Norris



Speaking of Filch, hes not much fun to run into either. Theres also his beloved pet, Mrs Norris, who will grass you up if she sees you wandering around the castle after-hours too. For a cat, shes remarkably purr-ceptive.



But play by the rules, and Filch usually leaves people alone, even if he is prone to confiscating fun magical objects. To be fair to Filch, though, being a Squib (AKA not having magical powers) and having to deal with the chaos left behind by Peeves all day would put us in a bad mood too.



Befriend the portraits



They say a picture speaks a thousand words, and in the case of the Hogwarts paintings, thats actually quite true. Indeed, the portraits that hang around the castle all feature old witches and wizards of yesteryear who magically still hold a presence long after theyve passed. While sometimes, you might not fancy small talk with a piece of sentient art, (Sir Cadogan is usually quite hard work) they do sometimes come in handy for pieces of advice, spying on people or passing on messages, etc. And if youre a Gryffindor, you really dont want to get on the wrong side of The Fat Lady, seeing as shes the one who lets you into the common room.



If someone challenges you to a duel  maybe dont?



Theres always one kid in the class who thinks theyre about five years older than they actually are. In Harrys case, this was Draco Malfoy, who challenged him to an actual grown-up wizards duel, in their very first year. In classic Draco style, he was all talk and no action and confronting an eleven year old with a wand that can cause actual explosions is never a good idea anyway.



Bear in mind Hogwarts likes to mix it up



If youre a little Geographically-challenged (AKA, you get lost a lot) you might want to watch your step a bit when roaming the Hogwarts corridors. The staircases like to move around, which is not ideal when youre trying to get to your next class in time. Isnt being a young student with a busy timetable enough stress?



Reading Hogwarts: A History might help!



Look, we acknowledge that Hermione was showing off a little when she mentioned (on several occasions) that she had read Hogwarts: A History as prep for her magical education, but to be fair, you cant blame Muggle-borns for wanting an extra leg up on these sorts of things. And Hogwarts: A History does seem genuinely helpful, almost like a cheat code to the castle. Without Hermione having read this book, we might not have known so readily that you cant Apparate within the school grounds, Muggles cannot see the castle, or even about the Chamber of Secrets!