Getting the most out of week 1
The first week of university is exciting. It can also be confronting and a bit confusing. There’s a whole lot of stuff going on and sometimes it’s hard to know what to take advantage of, where to go, and what to do. Making the most of your time at university means getting involved from the starting gun, and week 1 will test your mettle, making you balance social activities and lectures for the first time.
We asked your Student Union President for 2016 – James Baker – to answer some questions and provide some advice that’ll help you make the most of your first academic week at the University of Melbourne.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m James Baker and I’m the UMSU President for 2016. I was also an Activities Officer in 2015. I pretty much spend all my time at university. In addition to studying, I’m always getting involved in things – clubs, volunteering, BBQs, bands – you name it, I’m getting involved in it, and it’s so much fun. It’s the greatest.
Okay, first up, some questions about having fun:
What place on campus do you absolutely have to have a meal at?
You absolutely have to have a meal at a BBQ on South Lawn. There’s definitely going to be a BBQ on South Lawn and you definitely have to get there for a BBQ meal.
Will it be free?
It will be free if you’re a member of the club running it, and you can always join up on the day. And if there’s any alcohol served you’re entitled to a free sausage regardless!
If you’re going to go to only one event during the week, what would it be?
Probably go to a BBQ. Just because the BBQ on Tuesday is free to all University of Melbourne students. Which is great. There’s always a band playing as well. And it’s just a great atmosphere so you can get to know a lot of different people at the University of Melbourne.
What are the deets?
Bands, Bevvies and BBQs runs every Tuesday on North Court between 12 and 2. The actual BBQ will be running between 1 and 2, but you’ll be able to meet a lot of people in the first hour.
What’s your favourite hidden spot on campus?
System Gardens. Oh. Actually. It’s a tough one. Either System Gardens or the Rowden White Library beanbag room. It’s amazing.
What can you do in the beanbag room?
You can watch Game of Thrones every Monday at 11am when it’s on. It airs at 11am in Australia and they have it straight away in the Rowdy. You can also sleep in there. There’s comic books too. Actually the whole of Rowden White Library’s an amazing resource for you to use.
What’s the best place to have lunch with friends that’s not System Gardens?
There’s a wide range of places. You can go to South Lawn. You can go to the food court in Union House. You can go to North Court. You can go to any of the BBQs and just chill around them. There’s plenty of places.
Now on to some questions about studying, because it’s also important:
What should you absolutely not forget to bring to your first lecture?
Definitely do not forget to bring either a laptop (editor’s note: charged!) or a pen and paper. You definitely need it. You can’t absorb information otherwise.
Do I have to go to my lectures in week 1?
Look it’s really important that you go to lectures in first week even if it’s only first week. All lectures are supposed to be recorded however you get some pretty vital information for all your subjects in the first lecture. It’s also good for your lecturers to know your face.
How do you make yourself memorable to lecturers?
Always ask questions, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I know a lot of people that’ve been afraid to ask questions and a lot of people will have the same questions as you do.
Are there any stupid questions?
Where will I definitely be able to find an empty study table?
At one of the wide range of libraries we have around campus. Except the Rowden White Library – please do not study in the Rowden White Library.
Do you have a preferred library to study at?
Because I’m an Arts student, the Baillieu library is probably my favourite. Other than that, the Ancient World Studies library in Old Quad is pretty cool. But you probably won’t find out where that is unless you’re doing that major.
When should I buy text books?
Wait until about week two to find out whether you actually need them or not. Just feel it out – textbooks are expensive so you don’t want to buy them unless you think you’ll actually use them. You can also borrow them (textbooks) from the library. If you’re an Arts student you might be able to get a subject reader instead which will have all of the readings for your subject for the semester.
Did you quit any classes after week 1?
I did not quit any classes after week 1. I didn’t swap any classes after week 1. I powered through.
Is that because you made good choices?
I made good choices. Also there was one subject that I didn’t necessarily like, but I stuck through it because I just decided that was the best course of action for me. It wasn’t that it was a hard subject, it’s just that I wasn’t necessarily interested in it, which was good for me to find out for the rest of my degree.
Some concluding questions:
What will I regret not having done in week 1 by week 5?
Not going to any club events.
What clubs did you join?
M-ASS, SSS, Eng, More Beer, Heavy Metal, Canadian, CAFE, Environments Students Society. Do you want me to go on? There’s just such a wide range. There’s over 200 Clubs you can join and definitely get around them in O-Week at the Carnival Day.
Did it feel like too much, joining that many?
If you’re an Arts student, how come you got to join SSS?
Almost all of the clubs are open to anyone to join, which is great. They’re all very inclusive of everyone and it’s actually really good to join other student clubs which aren’t necessarily in your faculty. For example, in Arts, I’m part of the Melbourne Arts Student Society, I’m also part of Science Students Society. They actually alternate BBQs on every Thursday so if you’re part of both of those clubs then you’re able to go to a free BBQ every Thursday which is awesome.
What was scariest thing you did during week 1?
Asking a question in a lecture, but I’m also really happy that I did it.
What was the best thing you did in week 1 (other than joining clubs)?
Drinking with the clubs at events and pub nights.
Did you meet anyone in week 1 who you’re still friends with?
YES. So many people.
How’d you meet them?
Club events. I actually did meet some people in lectures and tutes which is fun.
Most important question for last: How do I make sure I get a beanbag on South Lawn?
Get there early.