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!
The biggest social change that occurs in first year is that you are no longer in the same classes as the people you went to high school with for years. This means that most of you will be stepping into a new environment and thus may not know anyone. Although this can be daunting, the university provides various ways for you to get to know people in your course and across other faculties.
At the beginning of each semester, there is an Orientation Week. This is when all the newbies have a chance to meet each other at various events and also mix with the returning students. Different clubs run different events and everything is voluntary. There is a huge range of activities on offer that include everything from pub nights to Luna Park outings, so there is something for everyone. Throughout O-Week, you will also have the chance to become familiar with social clubs on campus, the music groups and the sporting teams.
For more details on what O-Week entails, visit: the orientation website and the the student union (UMSU) website (The site will be uploaded with some information on O-WEEK closer to the beginning of Semester 1, 2016). Speaking of UMSU…
UMSU – The Student Union
UMSU run programs across campus (including O-WEEK and Destination Melbourne to name a couple), social events (such as trivia nights, comedy nights, gigs and cocktail parties), assist with student services (legal, health, counselling) and much more! The student union is always looking for volunteers and participants so if you are struggling on how to be a part of the university, UMSU is a great place to start.
At the beginning of the year, many of the major clubs on campus host camps so that students can meet new people and settle into university life with ease. As these camps are designed for you to make friends, they are the perfect way to get to know people before classes start. I attended Arts Camp in 2015 and I believe this has what really helped me settle into university as I immediately had something in common with 100 other students. Camp activities are all team-building and aim to encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zones and meet new people. As most of the camps are held before classes start, it is a great way to make friends in your lectures, tutes and faculty. If you are interested in attending any of the camps, the information is released in O-WEEK and on the club Facebook pages.
Although I was not a part of college, many of my friends were, and they believe it’s a great way to step out of your comfort zone, build a network of friends and also explore co-curricular activities. Colleges encourage you to get involved with their music groups, sporting teams, theatre productions – this way you are able to explore areas you may not have previously had an interest in. Also, colleges run extra tute groups for your subjects, so if you need extra academic assistance, this can be very beneficial. Although most colleges focus on residential students (students who live at the college), there are also some colleges that offer places for non-residential students so that they can be a part of college life without actually living there.
If this is something you are interested in doing for your first year – there are applications and interviews that are done the year before so make sure you are well informed.
If I could offer one tip, it would be to get involved with the clubs on campus! This is a great way to meet like-minded people with similar interests. The biggest clubs on campus are UMSU (the student union) and the faculty societies, which include SSS (Science Students Society), M-ASS (Arts Students Society), ENVI (Environments Students Society), CSS (Commerce Students Society) and BSS (Biomedicine Students Society). If you are looking to make a start at getting to know people, I would highly recommend becoming members of these clubs at the beginning of the year. Many of the events they hold draw big crowds of university students (such as paint parties, foam parties, trivias, balls). This can give you a great start in terms of getting to know people from different faculties. Also, search the clubs on Facebook and like their page for information on any upcoming events, and to view the photos afterwards.
Although there are other larger clubs, the university also has specialised clubs which also run a variety of events throughout the semester. The smaller clubs provide a way for people with more specific interests to bond, participate and be amongst like-minded people. There are drama clubs, music clubs, debating clubs, sporting teams, religious clubs, social clubs and much more. My recommendation would be to have a look at the UMSU clubs list and the Melbourne University Sport web page to see which clubs/sporting teams interest you, as they are all always looking for new members. The clubs are all very welcoming, so go ahead and join as many as you want!
Another big social event where it can be easy to make friends is in Week 9, Semester 2: Prosh Week! Prosh Week is where a variety of big and small teams of students compete in a variety of challenges. This includes everything from a pub crawl to billy cart racing and a 24-hour scavenger hunt. I participated in Prosh this year and I found it incredibly exciting and fun so I would highly recommend getting involved. As hundreds of people participate, you are bound to make friends, work on your team-work skills and get to know people of all different year levels and classes. Nothing is compulsory, and if you do not feel comfortable getting involved with the teams – you can always just watch the crazy events taking place.
Although university can be a big change for many of us, if you choose to get involved with the social side of university, it can really enrich your entire experience. My first year would not have been as great as it was without my new friends, so I highly encourage having an open mind and putting yourself out there so you can create positive memories for yourselves.