Dawn of the second day (or in this case- semester)

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on what’s been going on, but that’s primarily because not a lot has happened.

Second semester seems much the same as the first one with the exception that i have some idea of what I’m doing now. Not that it really helps!!

I changed my subjects, (switched chem for a second bio) not because it was too difficult but rather because I was getting tired of my number of contact hours, and I think it was a good decision.

I’m also still in the early stages of making friends in tutes , which is what I’ve found most difficult, but other than that things are going well. I intend to write a post about how I organise my notes and also an update on how I am in the near future, so watch out for those! I will pick up the pace with this soon 🙂 I’m just trying to get back into studying again.

The turbulent road from VCE to university

By now the first semester of this year is officially over and everyone is on holidays. This will be the first ever semester break for all of those other first years out there and I’d just like to say congratulations on transitioning to university! You did it! We did it. In this post I’d like to talk a little bit more about myself and to reflect on how things have been thus far.

In high school, I wasn’t the popular kid, the sporty one or the artist. I don’t know how other people saw me, but I like to think that I was un-categorisable (don’t tell me that’s not a word because it should be). Who knows though, perhaps that is a category in itself? I went to a government school in the west of Melbourne and I’m proud of that because it’s meant that my peers and I have never had anything handed to us. In school, I did a bit of everything. I was a student leader, I took piano lessons and was in my school’s senior ensemble and even, briefly, a choir. I went on a leadership camp in the country for a term, travelled to Japan and even took part in a philanthropy program.

But the thing is- I’ve never really excelled in any particular area. I changed my subjects so often that most of my VCE subjects were done without units 1/2. I completed Further Maths and History Revolutions in year 11, and Maths Methods, English, Japanese, Biology and Psychology in year 12. I liked the challenge of science subjects, but enjoyed the thought that goes into humanities. My grades were reasonable (though this was not always the case) but I’ve always done better studying what I enjoy.

However, when my mental health declined (think anxiety and depression), these grades that I had always been used to, well they plummeted. I came close to failing exams and sacs (thankfully my school’s pass mark was 20%), I would fall asleep in class, come late almost every day and rarely did I even look at my homework. In year 12 I had daily anxiety attacks. I’d go days without sleeping or eating properly and if anyone asked, I was ‘just tired’. I didn’t think I’d graduate. But I’m so glad I did. I stuck it out, maybe not with the scores that I know I could have achieved, but I got into my dream course and that’s all I could have asked for.

I believe that VCE is a lot more stressful than it needs to be. For me a lot of that stress came from my teachers as they would often tell us that we could be doing better, and as a perfectionist better meant not good enough (I’m not saying that it was unfair for them to do that but rather that too much importance is placed upon student’s outcomes in their final year). It’s common knowledge that people learn differently and we all have different strengths yet somewhere, someone decided it would be a good idea to rank us all against each other and tell us that our future depended upon it. Kind of ironic. I wish that someone had told me that I did not need to put so much pressure on myself. Where there’s a will there’s a way- as they say. I also wish I had known that you don’t need to have everything planned out straight away because that’s what life after school is for.

I wasn’t sure about university at first and if you go back and read the first posts I made on this blog, it’s obvious that I found it difficult. Nobody tells you that tertiary education isn’t suitable for everyone or that it can be bland and unenjoyable. They tell you that it will be a time of discovery and partying, yet leave out the fact that for many people, the adjustment can be tough. Don’t get me wrong- I love uni, but it took me a whole semester to get to this point. The difficulties had less to do with the actual workload and more to do with making friends, feeling like I didn’t deserve to be in my course and with travel time.

Forming friendships, especially when you’re shy, takes time but to anyone out there struggling with this don’t be disheartened because it will happen and sometimes the best friendships take longer to form. It’s just a matter of taking those in class relationships out of the classroom and even in a course with a large cohort it’s possible. In regards to not feeling like I deserved to be in my course, I’ve only started to realise that this is the right place for me very recently. It’s difficult to gauge how you are going when you only get a few marks back during the semester and the expectations at university seem foreign at first but after receiving my exams results, I’m feeling okay. I can do this and those H1’s? They’re within reach. Public transport is still horrible and if I could live on campus I think my performance would definitely benefit but living at home isn’t so bad. The train rides have just become a part of my daily routine and I barely even notice them anymore (Okay, that’s a lie, just ask me again in peak times when I usually end up sandwiched between people with nothing to hold on to).

So then, how is life after high school going? It’s going reasonably well. My passion for knowledge, which was cruelly crushed during VCE, has been rekindled and uni makes me happy. It is difficult, there’s a lot of work which I know will only increase and I miss having my friends nearby, but I’m glad that I’ve made it this far. At university it feels like the world is at your feet and that you can do anything because really- you can. For the first time in a really long time, I feel free.

Thanks for following my journey and here’s to the next time we talk  -S

(PS. I Apologise for any spelling/grammatical errors that occur as a result of my writing this in the middle of the night)

Absence makes the mind grow fonder

It’s been a while since I’ve updated! But the semester has flown by and a lot has happened since my last post.

First, things got pretty difficult

I was struggling to make friends and to adapt to the fast pace after 3 months of not doing anything. What really got me wasn’t the travelling or the lectures but the BREAKS! I confess that a few tears were almost shed when I discovered that I had to spend an hour eating lunch alone each day. As someone who struggles with a lot of anxiety, this was a big issue. I was too scared to explore the uni and I thought that everyone was judging me. Of course they weren’t, and if they were why would it matter? Then I discovered the systems garden, an oh so magical and peaceful place, and north court (north of union house) where I could eat in peace. it wasn’t just the lunch though, I struggled with the work and I felt that everyone else was above me academically.

Of course I wanted to drop out

I came home crying for the first two weeks. What nobody tells you is that starting university is hard. It’s a world away from the structure of VCE and you’re doing it all on your own. I thought I was going to fail and that I’d be kicked out for not getting high enough grades. I also wasn’t enjoying myself. The content wasn’t what I expected and some things such as the biology pracs were pure torture. You’re taking marks off me because I can’t slice a eucalyptus leaf thinly enough when it’s inside a piece of carrot? That actually happened. I left that day vowing that I would never go back but I did and it was worth it.

Then things got better

I discovered that the lecturers change and that the whole biology course was not about cells or plants and that although my poetry was terrible, other people had difficulties with it too. Then again it was pretty bad (I’ve burned all evidence). People started recognising me in lectures and I began to make friends in my lab classes-though I still didn’t learn everyone’s name. The content got better and I began to enjoy what I was studying. I could do this.

I found my favourite coffee shop. House of Cards- if you were wondering.

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Wrote a rather bad but sensual essay on a sunset. I enjoyed my time philosophising and came up with what I thought was a rather insightful essay. My tutor thought otherwise.

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I visited an art gallery- The Kaleidoscope Turn at the Ian Potter Gallery at NGV. To be fair I probably spent more time taking photos than I did researching the psychology assignment but I was learning after all.

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Here’s where I leave you. I just wanted to reiterate that my experience did improve drastically and I’m now looking forward to the future and am considering a career in academia (in psychology of course). A lot can change in 12 weeks.

The end of a beginning- my first week at the University of Melbourne


My first week at uni is now complete, well technically it’s been 6 days.

I’m completing a bachelor of science with this semester’s subjects; psychology, biology, chemistry and creative writing. The first day was hard, I’m not going to lie, and it ended with me going home vowing that I’d never go back again. Tuesday was much the same but I did go back. And Wednesday. Thursday. Friday. Slowly I got through it.

Monday morning I made sure I had researched what time train to catch and what buses and trams, and set out for my first ever lecture- an 8am one.  Awkwardly waiting with my phone I was not prepared for the sheer number of people in my lectures. Going from sitting in a classroom with 24 other students to being in a lecture theater with approximately 500 was nothing short of terrifying. There was the problem of who to sit next to, where to sit, and of course what was one meant to  actually do during a lecture? I’m still not sure about that.

On Tuesday I suffered my first anxiety attack at uni in,  funnily enough, a psychology lecture. The music that was playing beforehand was loud and terrifying to my anxious ears. It was bound to happen at some point. Luckily nobody noticed that my heart was going a million km/min.

I decided I’d make some friends and so I did. I chatted to people in my lectures- then I lost them. I chatted to people in my tutorials but they didn’t seem to like me much. I tried to find the few people who went to my high school- no luck there. Keeping friends at uni is difficult and so my first week was quite a lonely one. I ate my lunch alone, in a different spot each day and wandered around camps yelling at my phone and the lost on campus app when the wifi cut in and out.

My first biology prac was an experience. I have absolutely no idea what it was about and I can’t remember what I did but I do remember feeling like I wasn’t smart enough to be there. Going to a prestigious uni wasn’t something that really influenced my decision. Instead it was the location and lack of a career path. That’s why I was quite taken aback when I started and left feeling quite small and alone and honestly, dumb.

Sorry if you just read all of my rambling and here’s hoping week 2 is better!!