VCE to Uni: A New Lifestyle

Lucienne has just completed her first year at the University of Melbourne. In this three-part ‘VCE to Uni’ series, she reflects on her experience of university life and shares her tips. Read on for some great advice in terms of settling in and getting involved!

For many students, moving on from school can mean embarking on a totally new lifestyle. Whether this is moving out, getting a job or beginning to use public transport to get to uni – or all three at once – it can all create a lot of stress. My aim in this post is to touch on these areas and hopefully provide a basic guide to adjusting to a new lifestyle, to make it easier for you!

Transport and location

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Many people who attend Melbourne University are not Melbournians and thus may be unfamiliar with how to navigate their way to Melbourne University. Before you start university, it is a good idea to work out how you are going to travel. Although there are a few carparks near campus, the most affordable options are: riding a bike or using public transport. The nearest train station to university is Melbourne Central station and from there you can either take a 10-minute walk or catch the tram along Swanston St. If your train goes straight to Flinders Street, these same trams depart from the Swanston St tram stop next to the station. All of the Swanston St trams go past Melbourne University and usually come every few minutes. There are also various bus stops surrounding the university, with the 401 shuttle bus going to and from North Melbourne station. For more information on how to get to university from your origin, check Use the ‘Journey Planner’ feature to work out the fastest way (or the way with the least walking!) to get to uni.

A good way to figure out your surroundings around university is to take part in the Destination Melbourne program. This is run at the beginning of the year by the student union, predominately to help those from outside inner Melbourne find their feet. It takes place over a few days at the end of January (about a month before O-Week) and you board at the colleges and get to meet a whole bunch of new people. Many of the activities take place outside of the university, so it is a great chance to see what the city of Melbourne has to offer. As Melbourne University is in the centre of Melbourne, you are around hundreds of different stores. With Lygon St and the City centre all within walking distance, you can always explore and find whatever it is you are looking for.

Moving Out

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For those of you who will be moving out after you finish school, this can come with some big challenges. For those of you interested, college is a great way to live with a group of other students and make friends. For those who are interested in this, search up the colleges and see what each are about (click here). If you want to be around other students but would rather not go to college, UniLodge is an environment you may prefer (check out UniLodge here).

For those who are looking to go to share houses, live on their own, or move closer to university – the nearby areas to Melbourne University are Carlton, Brunswick, Parkville, Flemington and the City. In saying this, do not let this deter you from trying to find housing elsewhere in Melbourne. Melbourne University is at the centre of public transport so there are always accessible ways to reach university even if you are not within walking distance. For those who are interested in student housing, check out the housing page on the Unimelb website.

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If you are unsure on whether you are financially able to move out, check out this site’s budget planner tool. I used this before I moved out and was able to approximate how much living costs would add up to be. As it is hard to estimate how much bills can be, I would recommend having some extra money saved up aside from your living costs so that if worst comes to worse, you are able to have funds to assist you. Everyone is different in terms of living costs but if you have a stable job and enough money saved (that it can keep up with your living costs for a few months), it should be manageable.

When you move out, the responsibility now relies on you to clean, cook, do laundry and ensure your bills are paid on time. What helped me manage this was to try and put aside 30 minutes a day to ensure that I am able to clean up my place, organise my next day and work out what bills to pay (if they are due). Writing down all the different bills you need to pay and on what dates ensures that I can approximate how much money to put aside for such areas. Once again, everyone is different so whatever works for you and allows you to stay on top of your finances should be fine. It can also be extremely worthwhile to research your options in regards to financial support.

Getting a Job

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If only… there are plenty of trees at uni!

Although many students have jobs before university, there are some who do not. Jobs can be a great way to be financially independent and also a way to generate savings. The biggest thing about getting a job is that you are now having other commitments aside from university. This means learning how to juggle social, academic and working life. Each person is different, but it is always good to learn how much you are prepared to dedicate to each part of your life as you want to ensure you are able to manage everything (to avoid getting overwhelmed). Using a diary can be a great way to stay organised. It is recommended by the Student Connect department at uni that a students’ part-time work does not exceed 20 hours during semester (to ensure you can perform at your best!) – so keep this in mind.

If possible, try to find a job that can work around your study. Although this is not always achievable, talk to your managers about the hours you are prepared to work. The biggest tip I could give would be to plan your timetable before you start university, so that way you can schedule your classes in a way that can still allow you to work your desired hours. For those who are looking for jobs, check out Seek and UMSU jobs or head to Union House as they often have job vacancies up on the notice board. You can join the ‘Students at Work’ program offered by Unimelb to get jobs on campus. Check that out here.

If you have never had a job before, some good places to apply could be local cafes, fast food restaurants, clothing stores, newsagents and cinemas. They are often hiring and are often open to take those who have had no experience. If you would like to become more qualified, you could always look into taking a barista course or getting your RSA certificate. This can help you become more qualified in specific fields, which many employers do look for when selecting employees.

Hopefully, some of you found this post useful in highlighting some of the things to expect after school. Remember to allow yourself some time to adjust to a new environment and that even if things do not go according to plan – you may learn a valuable life skill and lesson.  


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