Why Pop the College Bubble When You Can Gently Let It Open?

2016 was weird. We all know that. It was occasionally sunlit, but mostly full of political and social storms. At its close, it was infamous for the deaths of so many legends across all forms of media.

Now, I invite you to visit 2016’s tombstone. Next to Harambe’s.

Okay, I’ll stop.

As well as being a generally havoc-filled year on a global scale, 2016 was also the year I was a fresher to the uni and to my residential college. I’m from Melbourne, and can commute to uni very easily, so going to college was about the enrichment and experience for me. This involved embracing college history and culture in equal parts, from the ‘fresher exam’, to the eclectic lingo that brings together interstate slang and phrases from all languages, to discovering the joys of UberEATS and late night Lygon Street hijinks.

I recognise the inherent privilege (another buzzword that 2016 took from feminist literature and catapulted into the mainstream) that I have in even admitting something like that, but being aware of that privilege going in, I was even more determined to make the most of college living and culture. I wanted to see what I could learn, how I could grow, and how I could use these new experiences in the real world that I’d eventually return too.

Of course, I had these good intentions, but sometimes found myself slipping into the hotel-like convenience of college as well as the hive-mind of being around 300 of people my age from sunrise to sundown. I can confirm that things like travel and other little things like essays that are worth 65% of your total subject mark can (and will) slyly sneak up on you, and you will find yourself retreating into the warmth of the bubble occasionally. But hopefully, with the following strategies, you can learn to nourish, pay attention to, stay active with, and give back to the things and people that lie outside this small portion of your life and university career. Here’s how I managed to achieve the best of both worlds:

1. Sign up to all the college clubs you can

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Source: giphy

Yes, in order to tentatively build yourself a way out of the college bubble, it’s important to establish it first! There’ll come a time in your O-week (and later in the semester) when every college and college-affiliated club will set up a stall, talk to you about what crazy adventures they offer and ask you to join them. They’ll also usually throw in a generous freebie because most club memberships are expensive. Really expensive for the average Melbournian like me. But it’s well worth saving up for before you blow your money on last-minute text books or those uber-hip fairy lights for outside your room.  It’s well worth joining the clubs early and receiving those member-subsidised tickets later if you plan to go to every ‘steamer’ at college.

Going to these clubs will help you realise in what ways you do and don’t like to get involved in college and it’ll help you develop precious allies that you can borrow laundry detergent from in the future. You can also get a glimpse of other colleges and their kingdoms…and by that I mean Ormond’s tribute to Hogwarts’s Great Hall.

By building the bubble through increasing exposure to what it means to be in the bubble, you can escape to or from different parts of it when you need to, whether that simply be another college campus that isn’t your own, or that flight you booked for home.

2. Try and combine your college and uni social lives

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Source: giphy

If you have friends from uni or precious, rare companions from high school that go to your uni, invite them on your college campus. Go for a walk, take them to dinner, sit in your room and let them absorb the college vibes via osmosis. I found this to be a really relaxed way to still engage in college living myself while still socialising and spending quality time one-on-one with non-college friends.

Moreover, your old mates might appreciate expanding their own friendship circles and can give you fresh perspectives on how funky your room actually looks, and how college has ~changed~ you in a  just a few short weeks. Basically, you can refer to them to ensure you have enough life and warmth outside the college incubator. They can give you a wake-up call if you need it.

A fine example of that may be when family birthdays, celebrations or gatherings clash with a (usually pricey and/or MUST DO OR ELSE WHY DID YOU ENROL HERE?!) college event. Talking to external friends or even older college mates can help you to figure out whether your Aunt’s birthday or the College Ball should earn the final slot in your calendar.

3. Join uni and external clubs

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Source: giphy

If you actually need any more incentive or reason to join some of the uni’s 200 clubs, go here.

My advice is that whilst college clubs should be your primary focus while you are in college, joining in uni club can help keep you grounded and remind you that you are still here to study.

For example, I joined MASS (Melbourne Arts Student Society) and MUPA (Melbourne University Psychology Association) so I could access resources such as peer-assisted study sessions, merch, forums and networking opportunities. Through clubs like these you can get the career trifecta: resume boosting opportunities, professional mentoring and advice, and club merch! Even though I was a very chilled member of MUPA, the study sessions they held which were tailored to each subject felt as personalised and as pastoral as an iddy-biddy year 12 classroom. Did I mention the expertly filtered and relevant resume-boosting gold that lands fresh on your FB-feed courtesy of these clubs?

Also, shout out to external clubs! Joining external clubs, say at your local council if you’re a domestic student or maybe a club online at a library or even a different uni around the city, is just as important. This again helps you to expand your social and professional networks as well as helping you to access holistic, social development that is not connected in any way to the college you are staying.

Many of the opportunities at college are advertised and handed to you — and yeah, that’s handy — but it’s also important to seek adventures that appeal to you as an individual, and that push  you to sell yourself as your own entity, away from college

4. Let the college bubble melt before you!

So there you have it! Although I decided one year of the college lifestyle was enough for me, I encourage anyone and everyone to give it a go if you’re able and interested. Someone once told me: “You can move out of home anytime, but you can only to college once.” College can be exhausting, demanding and make you routinely pine for the warm glow of home, but it is truly one of the most uniquely riveting journeys you can add to your personal narrative.

You can’t go wrong if you join clubs in a variety of contexts and try to kill two birds with one stone by inviting your external friends and family into the college bubble every now and then, so they can give you fresh perspective on your home whenever you need it most. These small, early investments and first-semester efforts to get organised will save you from straining to pierce the bubble later; instead, you can let it melt in front of you when you reach the border, as all the hard work is done.

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Source: Annihilation 

Cover meme credit: Leo Dunstan-Potter (Ormond College)


About the author:

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Taylor is in her third year of a degree at Melbourne University, studying creative writing and psychology. She loves a good dose of pop culture and would love to be able to tell a story that helps people. You can email her here: tcarre-riddell@optusnet.com.au.

VCE to Uni: The Social Transition

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.

O-WEEK

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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

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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.

Camps

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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.

College

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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.

Thinking of applying for a college? For more information on Colleges, visit the college website and check out sub-editor Jacky’s post for some tips on nailing the application process here.

Clubs

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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!

Prosh

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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.  

Applying to College

So, you’ve chosen a college. The college application process can be strange and confusing, but we’re here to help.  When you’re putting together your application, try to give some thought to the college’s perspective. Colleges thrive on diversity and participation. No college wants to offer their limited places to people who are just going to sit in their room all day and only want to go to college because it’s convenient. You’re aiming to put together a group of people who want to be involved and share their interests and skills because that’s what makes a good college community.

The college application process has three major components; your online application, an interview, and an offer.

The online application

You should aim to do this part in a few sittings as it’s quite long. Make sure you write down your application ID because for some reason it’s not emailed to you. Don’t send this straight to your college of first preference – they don’t need it just yet.
You’ll need a few things to complete your application:

  • A list of the colleges, sorted by preference
  • A passport sized photograph of yourself
  • An academic referee
  • A personal referee
  • A current CV
  • A 500 word “personal synopsis”
  • “Skills and contributions”

Here’s some things you should know about the form:

  • Your academic reference should be someone who understands how you work with others – a teacher you get along with is a good choice
  • A boss, family friend, sports coach etc. would be a good personal reference
  • Your CV is a really good opportunity to show your level of involvement with your school/sport/community/dance crew/church. This isn’t the same as applying for a job so you can put down your blog, performances, projects – whatever you want.
  • Personal synopses should demonstrate why you want to be a part of college and what makes you a good candidate. If you’re not sure what to write, remember this doesn’t have to be something you’ve already done – some amazing prize you won, or how you volunteer to build homes for orphaned puppies, or that you fight crime by night. Discuss your future goals, or an experience you’re waiting to have, or a skill you want to share and develop. You’re probably only 18 – nobody is expecting you to be Leslie Knope.

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    Image: toptenz
  • The skills and contributions section is a great way to add extra goodies to your application. Got a weird skill/hobby that doesn’t really belong on your CV? Add knitting/baking/French speaking here. You want to show you’re willing to be involved and ways in which you might do that.
  • Save a copy of everything you submit. It’s likely you’ll be asked about it in…

The Interview

Your college of first preference will interview you after your application is submitted. From this point you’ll be communicating with the college directly, rather than through the intercollegiate body who deal with the online form. The style and format of the interview varies a lot across the crescent. It might be just you and the head of the college. It might be over Skype. It might be you and a small panel. Be prepared to discuss things you wrote in your application, what you like about the college, whether you were there on open day, what you’d like to study – that kind of thing.

For your enjoyment I offer one of my more embarrassing tales: My College Interview.
I didn’t know how long it would take me to get from Southern Cross to College Crescent so I took an earlier train just in case, figuring I could just wander around if I was early. However, by the time I got off the tram it was raining. A lot. I didn’t know anywhere dry to go, so…I arrived for my interview 45 minutes early. Except I went to the wrong office. They showed me to the right office who told me to wait in the Senior Common Room and did I know I was quite early?
I brought a reference letter my school had written after I had submitted my application but was so nervous I forgot to give it to anyone so I just held this piece of paper for no apparent reason the whole time.
I had spent hours the week before thinking of a good question to ask in my interview, and finally came up with what I thought was a brilliant question – it was responsible, it was thoughtful, it showed character. And halfway through my interview…I forgot my question. I panicked and made up some terrible, vapid question that showed I was painfully nervous and possibly stupid.

That night I researched share houses while definitely not crying or drinking.
And you know what? It was fine.

Here’s what you should know about interviews;

  • Be polite. Quite often, the people in your interview will be living with you, and they don’t want to fill their home with jerks.
  • Write down your questions.
  • Be honest. Don’t say you’ll sign up for every sport if you won’t. If asked, say something along the lines of “I’m interested to try new things, but sport isn’t really my strong suit. I’m better qualified to contribute to volunteer work/music/drama/arts and crafts.”
  • Read over your application the day before so any questions about it don’t throw you off.

Offers

You’ll receive a phone call in January to confirm whether you have received and accepted an offer from the university, whether or not you’re still interested in your college of first preference, and whether you have been offered a place there.

You got in

Source: Photobucket
Source: Photobucket

Congratulations! Make sure you get the details of what happens next – usually a welcome pack is mailed to you with details for payment, O-week, and a move in date. If you applied for financial assistance, you should ask about it now.

You missed out
Bummer. Every college has a limited number of places and changing needs each year. Sadly, they just can’t take everyone. Don’t be disheartened, there are options for you!

  • The Waiting List: It’s not uncommon for a student to decide against returning to college after offers to new students are made. It might be the case that a place opens up in a few weeks, so ask whether it’s possible to be considered in that circumstance. Note that sometimes the waiting list will already be full, so this might not be an option.
  • Non-residential programs: non-residential programs vary across the crescent and are a great way to be involved with college life. A non-resident student can sometimes move in at a later date if a room opens up. Ask if there are availabilities in the non-residential program and whether there are anticipated vacancies mid-year/next year. This works well for some people, but won’t suit everybody.
  • The Collegiate Pool: applicants who are not offered a place at their first-preference college can be considered for availabilities at other colleges on their list of preferences.

Good luck, future freshers!

– Jacky

What is the Inter-Collegiate Dance Off?

Hi everyone! I’m Evie – second year Arts student, second year living at International House. I’m also the Vice-President of the International House student club.

Some people ask me why college life is awesome. Well, the Inter-Collegiate Dance Off is part of the answer!

Continue reading What is the Inter-Collegiate Dance Off?