Really, burden away - it's winter break and I don't mind!
Cut throat students? I really didn't witness that at all. The program is tough. They try to make it seem way scarier than it is. That was the hardest thing in the beginning. The first thing they do on the first day of all of your classes is tell you all of the different ways you will fail the program. What I saw with the students was more of a banding together to survive than anything else. Everyone is equally scared!
Some of the instructors were - umm - nicer than others. Do you know who you have yet?
My advice would be to take a deep breath and not let your nerves sabotage you. That's what will get you in your check offs. I would also say from my experience, don't bog yourself down with reading the 500 pages a week that they assign to you in 115. Pay attention and take good notes in class, study your power points, and use the book for supplemental knowledge (ie - topics you don't understand or to answer specific questions on the study guide that you can't find in the power points.) I saw people get overwhelmed at exam time trying to memorize every bit of material from every chapter of the book and lose sight of the important points. 114 you will have to read your books because there are no power points.
Clinicals - Do you have any hospital background? Dive in and do everything that you can. The first semester is pretty easy. Show up early, keep busy all day, finish your preps and care plans, and don't miss any classes, and you should be fine.
I can't think of anything else offhand - if you have any specific questions please feel free to ask.