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What student life has been like in 2021- A reflection by Zara Pritchard

When we asked University College (UC) students to describe UC in three words the word that came up the most was fun; followed by friendly and supportive. 

This year, although COVID restrictions continue, University College students were able to get more of a taste of everything that Melbourne has to offer, as well as other College perks that 2020 could not provide. Some of the highlights for the second-year students have included the return to larger density limits in our shared spaces and the re-opening of the pool-table (yay) and the gym (which apparently exists). Other small yet notable changes are the return of the salad bar and the ending of mask wearing (albeit short-lived!). 

Picture from one of the PFAs earlier in the year
Picture from one of the PFAs earlier in the year

As a first year University College student, I entered College just after Victoria’s third lockdown. Because of the COVID restrictions we were required to say goodbye to our parents in the carpark (being able to avoid embarrassing emotional goodbyes was a perk in my opinion) and move into the student accommodation with the amazing help of the O-Week leaders. The O-Week leaders worked really hard to make the orientation week as enjoyable as possible whilst following restrictions. Some highlights from the week included the amazing race, game night, the quiz, bush dancing, morning yoga and my favourite part which was the two external rodeo-themed evening events. After that week I, and many others, formed enduring friendships with the people in our groups.

For most of the first semester many of the plans went off without a hitch. Some of the student activity highlights included UC sports, in particular cricket at the start of the year. Step Up, which is the intercollegiate dance competition and UC came second! The Musical Soiree and Pleasant Friday Afternoons (aka PFAs) where UC students get the chance to showcase their musical talent or watch along with their friends, sometimes with a sausage sizzle. Rowing Day, which was a huge highlight for many UCers despite the early morning wake up. The Donor Reception, where students finally got a chance to meet some of our alumni and wider members of the community. Assassins Week, where UCers are randomly given another student’s name as their assassination target and are required to ‘kill’ their target before they were killed themselves; this is usually achieved in a variety of creative ways including the ‘sock of death’ and ‘sticky bomb’. Lastly, a personal favourite was our Studio 54 themed Ball, with dinner held at the Crown Casino followed by Bond nightclub for the after party. 

Just before SWOTVAC Victoria entered its fourth lockdown. Our boat trip was cancelled and there were increased feelings of uncertainty for first year students and a familiar sense of dread for the second-year students. The mood and energy at College was low, along with the rest of Victoria. 

However, upon reflection, lockdown actually provided some of my fondest memories from College and selfishly I (and many of my peers) would say that we are grateful for it. After the initial shock and anxiety wore off, the vibes at University College lifted again and with everyone’s busy schedules now being cleared, I found that I formed much closer friendships over this period. The lockdown also allowed me and many others to spend some extra time focusing on our studies, which proved beneficial. 

Semester 2 has now begun and there are a few fresh faces around College and a new wave of excitement for what will be the last semester of College for some of us. As I write this we are expecting another lockdown announcement, but despite ongoing changes to COVID restrictions, and having to adapt plans, the collective experience of UC students is that College has still been able to provide a heap of fun and new experiences. Our motto is Frappe Fort, which is interpreted as ‘love, passion, die hard spirit’ and it is clear that the spirit of UCers has not been dampened.