First-year performance student, Naoise tells us about her first weeks of uni, how it compares to high school and how she’s adapted to her new home.
1. It can be scary
Moving away from home for the first time, especially at 18, is a scary experience – even before you add starting uni on top of that! I’d only ever visited Wollongong in the past to enjoy the amazing beaches, so moving here, there was definitely a sense of uncertainty. Initially, I began to miss the little things I’d taken for granted, like knowing where the closest bus stop was, or supermarket, or petrol station. Leaving that sense of security and certainty was definitely a daunting concept.
2. You’re not alone
It’s been such a phenomenal experience to be thrown into a new environment with new people. Living on campus definitely allows for this even more so than just simply starting at university. I live on campus at Kooloobong, which has been amazing. It offers a lot of opportunities to meet people and make friends with others who are all going through the same experience as you, as well as people older than you who have already been through it and can guide you along the way.
3. I’m finding my voice
The atmosphere is completely different to that of school. There’s such a variety of people, so every day you step onto campus you’re bound to meet someone new and interesting. I also find that there is more opportunity for self-expression in classes and through the clubs and societies. It feels like there’s a place for everyone, whereas sometimes in high school it can be difficult to find that same sense of connection and belonging.
4. Learning can be fun
Performing is something I’m very passionate about, so learning doesn’t feel like it did in high school, which was at times mundane and tedious. My degree is very prac based, so I’ve been loving every minute. Every day I get to learn and do what I love, so regardless of how demanding the study or assignments may become, I’m sure the experience will continue to be more enjoyable than high school.
5. Everything’s at your fingertips
It’s like an entirely different world here. I had high expectations of the facilities before I began as I’d heard amazing things from second and third-year students, but the options available to students is amazing, even if I have gotten lost more than a couple of times! With a huge variety of food choices, a supermarket, banks, travel agent, hairdresser, gym and library, UOW is like its own town.
6. There’s so much to discover
I’ve been really trying to make an effort to get to know all that UOW and Wollongong have to offer. The friends I’ve made are just as confused as I am, so every week we’ve set a challenge to visit as many new restaurants, cafes, beaches and local tourist attractions as possible. So far these little adventures have included attempting the Mount Keira hike, relaxing in the Botanical Gardens, falling in love with the burgers at Chickos and eating ice cream by the lighthouse. The next adventures on the list are skydiving and learning to surf, so we’ll see how that goes!
In-story photos supplied by Naoise Champion. Main photo by Paul Jones