Getting used to a university campus, a new city or even a different country can be tough for new students, so if you find yourself feeling a bit, or even a lot, lost in your new surroundings, don't think that you're the only one! It's good to remember that everyone can feel lost when they are in a new and unfamiliar place, regardless of their social capabilities.
For most students, going to university is a time of great freedom and independence. You will be dealing with new financial demands, as well as new social and intellectual opportunities. This might seem a little overwhelming at first, and it is really exciting to know that you are in charge of your own life! Still, it's important to remember to find the right balance between study and social life.
Below is a list of some of the more common issues faced by students:
- Adolescence to adulthood: : If you're moving from school to university, this is an important phase of moving from adolescence to adulthood with increased responsibilities, independence and freedom.
- Increased responsibility: You are now in charge of your own learning and study. Lecturers and tutors will be available to help you throughout the semester, but you will have to seek them out if you are having problems.
- Culture and lifestyle: Monash, and indeed the city of Melbourne, have a very culturally diverse population. If you are from overseas, you might find that adjusting to some of the Australian ways of doing things can be challenging. Australians tend to be quite laid back and also quite direct.
- Friends: One of the most difficult things about starting University is that you may no longer be surrounded by old friends, and will start the semester feeling isolated without those familiar support networks - this is particularly the case for those of you who have moved away from home, are without your friends or you family and are experiencing some homesickness as a result. Even if you come to university knowing a lot of people already, it is likely that you will make new friends and perhaps find that your friendship groups will change.
- Finances: You may find yourself having to juggle competing financial demands, part-time work and budgeting for the first time.
- Accomodation: Living with housemates dealing with landlords are some of the challenges you might face if you're moving out of home for the first time. Finding your own space to study within the environment of a share house can be tricky, and conflicts between housemates can sometimes arise.
- Balance: One of the biggest challenges of university life that you are likely to face is learning how to balance your academic life with the exciting opportunities outside of class, including working part time, meeting new people, joining clubs and trying new activities.
And here are some tips on how to overcome these issues
- The best way to get familiar and feel comfortable with a new culture is to get out and experience it! Click here for good places to eat and to go shopping. You could ask a local peer about some of their favourite things to do/places to go in Melbourne (or better yet, ask a local friend to show you!)
- If you join a club, become an active member; go to meetings and get involved in running activities and events. Working on projects with other people is one of the best ways to establish friendships.
- Same goes for participating in tutorials! Lectures are often delivered to large groups of students, especially in first year, and so you might find it quite difficult to establish connections with people in this environment. However, if you make an effort to really get involved in tutorial discussion and lab classes, you might find someone, or even a group of people that share the same interests and opinions that you do!
- One of the best ways to keep yourself out of financial trouble is to make a list of essential living expenses eg. rent, bills, food etc. and stick it on your fridge, or somewhere else you're likely to see it every day.
- Monash offers a number of avenues for financial support, including scholarships, so make sure you check and see what assistance options are available to you.
- Living with friends or peers can be lots of fun, however sometimes it can be difficult to adjust to; you might find that someone who you get along great with in class is not always the best housemate. The best way to handle household conflicts is to raise any grievances when they arise, and if you treat your housemates with respect, it is likely that they will do the same for you.
You'll find that no matter where you end up, there are always plenty of fun distractions at university. Your faculty, department and the student clubs will all provide lots of opportunities for you to get to know people in your course/subjects or who have the same interests as you. Whether you're into sport, politics, art, theatre or chocolate, there's always something going on around campus. The toughest part will be trying to fit it all in and finding a balance between social life, study, part-time work, family and other activities. Achieving this balance will be hard work, but it will also allow you to get the most out of your university experience.