By Jake Vernon-Elliot
Moving into College is always an exciting, yet unnerving experience; the opportunity to become more independent and meet life-long friends vs. the uncertainty of the unknown. The whole prospect can seem daunting at times, moving out of home, meeting new people, and of course facing the challenge of packing the optimum number of socks and undies. Although, at the same time, it’s definitely a time of excitement and opportunity as you look forward to the experiences and adventures that the year to come may bring.
With Welcome Saturday quickly approaching, I’m sure like most people you have a million and one questions flying around your head. I remember that about this time last year.
Being the eldest in my family, knowing no-one down in Melbourne, and having only visited Victoria once when I was about three years old, to say that I was a “little in the dark” before coming to college would be an understatement. Besides, I was stressed about making sure I packed all the right things, was sad to be leaving my dogs at home and quite frankly, was desperately hoping to make friends quickly. Oh, and on the topic of O-Week – I had absolutely zero clue of what to anticipate. Instead, my only real expectations had formed from a peculiar mesh of trashy American teen comedies, and vague, echoey speculation – how perfect!
Now? I know that Kmart is just up the road for any packing mishaps, I try to FaceTime my dogs every Saturday afternoon, and the friend’s situation…? Well, it became quickly apparent that the people at UC are quite possibly the kindest, most legendary, diverse bunch of people you’ll ever meet, so making friends, settling into your second home and finding “your people” was a breeze.
When first moving into college, it’s obviously difficult to anticipate how these things may come about, and likewise, predict exactly what happens in the age-old tradition of orientation week or O-Week. As such, hopefully to calm some nerves and give you more background, here’s what to expect at O-Week hosted by yours truly, University College.
What is O-Week?
First and foremost, O-Week or Orientation Week is about meeting and getting to know new people. Likewise, it’s a time to explore and discover your new “home away from home” in Melbourne.
Throughout the week, there’s a jam-packed schedule of activities to get you settled into college and pumped for the year ahead. There’s everything from picnics down by the Yarra River, to races around the city, to formal dinners, “corridor cuppas”, and of course, some epic nights where you’ll get to boogie away with all of your new friends.
These student activities are meticulously designed for you guys by a team of around 50 O-Week Leaders. In doing so, it’s our number one priority to ensure the events are both accessible and inclusive, that they are founded with the goal to promote friendship building and comfort in your new home, and of course, for you have the most amazing time possible. Looking back, it’s safe to say that my O-Week experience was absolutely incredible, and to this day, I still look back on the whole week with a smile. All in all, it’s pretty awesome, and I sure hope you are able to love it as much as I did.
Meeting New Friends
You might also be thinking, “surely it will be difficult to meet and get to know new people with so many first years?”. Never fear! Throughout the week you’ll be grouped into small teams of about 10-15 people with a trio of O-week Leaders helping you out along the way. Last year, I was in Team Grey (undoubtedly the best team may I quickly add!! #NotBiased), and it’s funny to look back and see how many of my now incredibly close friends stemmed from that group. Similarly, my O-Week Leaders soon became a make-shift college parents, who I was able to ask for advice, get tips from for both college and university, and who I knew would always be there
for me if I needed anything. Ask anyone from any team, and they’ll say the same thing.
Beyond your immediate team groups, of course, there are also plenty of amazing dinners, picnics and opportunities throughout the week where you’ll get to meet new people from other teams, bond with your corridor and get to know the other O-Week Leaders, the Resident Tutors, and the Staff!
Alright, so Jake, this sounds great and all, but, what if I start feeling homesick? Also, what on earth should I expect from my first year at university?
Homesickness is certainly a common feeling when moving out of home and into college. It’s something that I’ve definitely been through myself, and I know countless other O-Week Leaders and returners have felt too. So, first of all remember you’re not alone, and in many cases, your friends (who might even be feeling the same way) will always be around to help out, comfort you with late night snacks, and take your mind off things. Similarly, University College has an incredible structure of wellbeing support from O-Week Leaders, to our Resident Tutors , to our Wellbeing Coordinator Alex, there is support all around which is accessible nearly 24/7.
People are always here for you at UC, and you shouldn’t fear chatting to someone about it all (people are a lot more mature here than in high school).
And University, well, the best thing to keep in mind is that all the first-years at University College are in the exact same boat as you, and your tutors/lecturers know and understand this. No one expects you to already know what you’re doing! If you have any specific concerns just flag them to your O-Week Leader, our Dean of Studies, Andre, or anyone you trust. Everyone here is more than happy to help out.
An Unforgettable Experience
Whilst this time of the year can seem scary, and perhaps even a little bit daunting, moving into college is an amazing experience that I’m sure you will look back on with a smile and talk to your grandkids about one day. Helping you throughout the week is a team of absolutely legendary O-Week Leaders who have been through the trial and tribulations of it all before, and are there during the week to help with anything you may possibly need, and likewise, ensure you’re having the most amazing time possible. Similarly, when you think that you’re alone, trust me, you’re certainly not. Coming to college is a new and unknown experience for everyone, so find comfort in the fact that everyone is probably just as clueless as yourself, and that there are countless people here at the college to help you out if you need it.
Finally, for those coming to UC in 2020, I cannot wait to meet you all; it’s going to be an absolutely incredible orientation week, and indeed, it’s shaping up to be an amazing year. And for those of you coming in later years, I sincerely hope you enjoy University College as much as I have, for, if you embrace everything that it has to offer, I promise you’ll have the best time.
We here at UC are all super excited to welcome you to our second home, and give you a taste of what life is like at this special place they call University College.