Written by TJ Srihari, currently a UC Resident Tutor and Post Grad Student
Amongst the excitement of receiving an acceptance letter from your dream university, and the opportunity to experience postgraduate study in Melbourne, the thought of finding student accommodation can be an intimidating one. Especially if you are in my position, coming from overseas as an international student. After some initial research, I decided that staying at a residential college, and in particular University College (UC), proved to be the best solution for me. It offered things that many other student accommodation options weren’t able to offer, like a close-knit community, peer support and all meals. So, if you are an international or postgraduate student looking for student accommodation, read on, because I am going to share my experience with you!
Give yourself time and do the research
I can’t stress enough that part of the process of applying to residential colleges is doing the research to find out which one is the right fit for you. This is even more important at a postgraduate level, since I found that different residential colleges have varying things to offer. I mostly relied on the University of Melbourne website and the websites of individual residential colleges. While these are really informative, I also found myself reading up on residential colleges on Reddit communities like this UniMelb Reddit page, where it’s easy to read about first-hand experiences or even find comparisons between the colleges. I would also definitely recommend having a cheeky look at their social media pages, they are always up to date with events and happenings at each college! You can find out more about University College here.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to residential colleges
University College (UC) was my preferred choice among the residential colleges because I found a strong sense of community was commonly mentioned in everything I read about them. I also had really positive interactions with the staff before travelling to Melbourne. Being in a different country and trying to handle your accommodation is a tough ask already, so don’t make it harder for yourself by not reaching out with concerns or questions. The colleges are understanding of that, and work really hard to make that transition easier for you. Interacting with the University College staff ahead of my arrival gave me immense comfort and really just set the precedent for my experience here.
As a residential college affiliated with the University of Melbourne, UC and its student community did a lot to ensure that Melbourne was welcoming, and it truly was! I felt well prepared, well informed and equipped to handle my move, and a large part of that was being able to openly communicate with UC (outside of a lot of my own planning and organisation, but that goes unsaid).
The postgraduate experience
Residential colleges may seem like more of an option for undergraduate students, but speaking from personal experience, you might be missing out if you’re quick to disregard them! Since I can’t speak for other residential colleges, I can say that University College has had a lot to offer me as a postgrad student. Having a community of fellow postgraduates, however big or small, is comforting and intellectually stimulating in many ways. Community events like ‘Chat & Chill’, ‘Shut Up & Write’ and ‘Fireside Chats’ present many occasions to pick a few brains while also sharing a few laughs, often with good food and a few social drinks.
The friendships that UC has given me, irrespective of study-levels, are ones I cherish and respect, and they have offered me comfort, advice, company and many, many good memories. I never imagined that moving to Melbourne could be even more exciting than I had imagined before coming here, but being a part of UC quickly made me realise I had underestimated this journey. I have experienced so many new things here, and beyond networking and forming very strong relationships, I have learnt a lot about myself. I hope that you’re the next in-line to have some of these amazing experiences!