By Zara Pritchard
First year students arrive at College the week before returning students. This week is called Orientation Week (aka O-Week) and is run by selected second year students (known as O-Week leaders or OWLs) who have volunteered to help new students settle in. It is a week involving many ice breaker activities and information sessions to help new students quickly make friends and settle into what is a foreign city for many.
Former Student Club Vice President, Georgia Taylor, said that: “coming to College, I didn’t know anyone – but there was a huge sense of camaraderie because we were all in the same boat.”
“O-Week was really full on and exhausting but that was good as it allowed you to forget about the fact that you’d just moved out of home. UC felt really welcoming,” 2019 Student Club President, Erica Roche said.
After O-Week, the rest of the student cohort arrives and there are more activities, aimed at bringing the different year groups together.
Commencement Dinner is the first formal event on the residential college calendar. The whole College comes together in the Syme Dining Hall to share a three-course meal and musical entertainment to mark the start of the academic year. Everyone dresses in their academic gowns (over formal attire), and the Head of College formally welcomes everyone.
This event generally sets the tone for the year and, “it is quite an exciting opportunity to collectively remind everyone what the year ahead will look like,” Erica said.
Rowing Day generally happens quite early in the semester and is one of the first intercollegiate sporting events. It is a great opportunity to get amongst the action and relish in the fun and laidback vibes of UC culture.
The day starts nice and early at the river and the celebrations (win or lose) often continue back at UC. Georgia said that a highlight for her was, “watching two of the first-year students DJ for everyone at College.”
The Ball is always a really big event for UC. In 2019 it was held at the aquarium with the theme ‘Under the UC’, and in 2021 a ‘Studio 54’ theme was hosted at the prestigious Palladium at Crown.
“The Ball is a really good opportunity for alumni to come back and see everyone they know, which is really important to help maintain that connection to College,” Erica said.
Re-Oweek is the first week back after the winter break. It is another week full of trivia and ice breaker activities, providing a great chance for those arriving in Semester 2 to get acquainted with the other students (and for returning students to get reacquainted).
“By that time of the year, most people know each other fairly well, so this week is really exciting,” Georgia said.
UC Day is an event a little later in the year and offers an excuse for people to dress up in their merch. For onsite residential college students, this is a great way to immerse in the UC culture.
“UC Day has a carnival-type vibe to it. With inflatables and silent discos, face paint and fairy floss etc”, Georgia said.
Boat Day is a dress up event generally held one afternoon/evening on the Yarra river.
“Boat Day is a really fun opportunity to leave the residential college and see the city from a different angle at night. Everyone is usually dressed in really creative costumes,” Georgia said.
“Boat Day generally happens at the time of year when people are craving a chance to socialise and reduce study stress in a different environment, away from where they’ve been studying,” Erica said.
Valedictory Dinner is the final formal dinner of the year, and tends to be a rather emotional event filled with awards and speeches.
“It’s a really rewarding way to look back on the year and see everyone having a really good time,” Erica said.
“It is also an opportunity for the new Student Executive team to lead an event and thank the past Student Executive team for their efforts over the year”, said Georgia.
Other important events throughout the year include: musical soirees, the Step-Up Dance Competition, Battle of the Bands and the musical production. There are also many other smaller events organised throughout the year by the social secretaries and UC students are encouraged to come to them with any ideas for events or activities they would really like to see happen at College. For Erica, “College is truly an example of you get back what you put in.” Keep up-to-date with the residential college activities on our website.
Erica and Georgia both moved away from home to come to University College in 2018 and 2019 and for Erica, “the residential college experience is something that has transcended those two years; the majority of our friendship groups in Melbourne are made up of College people, which is really valuable.”
“In terms of going to events, the people that are at the events you’re interested in are going to be your people. So spark up conversation, be a bit of a goofball and try to make everyone feel comfortable to just be themselves,” said Georgia.
“After a year jam-packed full of events and opportunities to mingle, everyone eventually settles in. It can take a while, but by the end of the year everyone has genuinely found their people,” concluded Erica.