Student Voices: Freshest Fresher? | Work of Arts
Student Voices: Freshest Fresher? | Work of Arts

Student Voices: Freshest Fresher?

As 4th-year student Ashton Mucha begins her study abroad term in Australia, she finds herself feeling like a first-year all over again

Student Voices is a WOA blog feature that presents the experiences and point of views of current Arts students around campus. Get to know our creative and passionate students through their “voices” and get a snapshot of life as an Arts undergrad. The views and opinions expressed within these student voices posts are solely those of the author.

G’day everyone! I’m now settled into my dorm in Sydney, and unfortunately I have recently started school (sadly this is not a vacation). This doesn’t mean I don’t have time for adventures, it just means I have to multitask. So, naturally I’ve become really good at doing homework on the beach. #LifeInAustraliaBeLike

Even though I’m finishing up my degree in the land Down Under, I couldn’t feel like more of a first-year or “fresher,” as they say here. That means I’ve done all the O-Week events, checked out their version of a “Clubs Fair” and gone on a campus tour. It feels like deja vu for me. It feels like deja vu for me. (Okay, Ashton, not funny). But unlike my first year back home, I now have a tiny bit more knowledge of what “Uni” is all about, and this time around, I’m a first-year in Australia.

JoeyUnlike in Edmonton, I’m living on campus, which is proving to be fantastic both for the convenience of the location and the friendliness of my fellow residents. But apparently living in a dorm on campus and being a freshman means you’re susceptible to hazing. That’s right, we were woken up at 5:00 am to clanking pots and pans in the hallways and pounding on our doors. I felt like I was in an American comedy/horror movie. I can’t say I’ve experienced this back home.

But besides the hazing, I’ve begun to love adapting to my new environment and learning about the differences in cultures and university life at the University of New South Wales. My college (residence) houses many different types of students, both Australian and international, who are studying a wide variety of things. At UNSW, students are able to combine degrees: two degrees for a total of five years, or three degrees for a total of six years (AKA sheer madness). So, I’ve met a few Engineering/Arts students, and one Business/Arts/Science student. Oh, and I’ve also met several 17-year-old Med students. Yes, here students can go directly from high school into Medicine. I still can’t quite wrap my head around that. It’s also extremely uncommon to see a fourth-year student here because degrees like a Bachelor of Arts or Sciences are only three years. This makes me one of the oldest Arts students and one of the oldest students living in my particular college.

One of the reasons I love the U of A is because of how many different opportunities there are to get involved within the university community. UNSW is very similar in that respect. Not only are there several clubs you can join (including the Quidditch team), but there are several organized events through both the university as a whole and within my college. There’s everything from trivia nights to formal nights in the Hogwarts dining room, and day trips to the Blue Mountains or walks to the beach to watch the sunrise. And with a pool table, ping pong table, piano, TV and kitchen in our common room, there’s always something to do and always someone there to visit with.

Bondi Beach Iceberg PoolsBut one of the major differences between the U of A and UNSW lies in the formatting of classes. All of my classes are divided into lectures and tutorials. Lectures are typically large and primarily for note-taking; tutorials are quite small and function as a place for participation and questions. My first-year Media class has 1,000 students in it. No, that’s not a typo. But there aren’t any rooms large enough to house that many students at one time, so the lecture is divided up into two separate days of 500 students. Needless to say, it’s a little overwhelming. And I get horrible flashbacks to first-year Economics in Tory Lecture, but back then I was a dazed and confused 18-year-old, and now I’m a dazed and confused 21-year-old. So much has changed.

Even though my classes have just begun, I cannot wait for what this semester has in store for me. As I’m starting the semester late (well, during Australia’s fall semester), I will not be finished until the end of June. This gives me plenty of time to read Australian literature (I can’t wait!), experience the Aussie culture, attend festivals (like Mardi Gras on March 7th), do touristy things (I’ve already checked the Opera House, Harbour Bridge Climb, Taronga Zoo, the Great Barrier Reef and Bondi Beach off my bucket list) and enjoy my time traveling through Australia and wherever else my travels take me!

If you’re thinking about participating in an exchange abroad, wherever you may want to go, I encourage you to go ahead and do it. If you have the opportunity, why not take advantage of it! You’ll be taken out of your comfort zone and placed into a new environment, but hey, when else could I get hazed before sunrise, feed a baby joey and listen to lectures while on a beach?

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About Ashton Mucha

Ashton Mucha

I'm Ashton Mucha, and I'm in my fourth and final year of my undergraduate degree with major in English and a minor in Philosophy. I am fortunate enough to have been attending the University of Alberta for the entirety of my university career, and I'm looking forward to potentially continuing my education at the U of A in the English graduate program. I love being involved with and taking advantage of the various opportunities and events that UAlberta has to offer. I recently volunteered as an orientation leader for transfer and mature students entering the University of Alberta for Fall 2014. I can confidently say that I am proud to be a UAlberta student, so I was very pleased to show the new students around our beautiful campus and give them any information or advice for their first year. Thanks to the Education Abroad program, I will be finishing the remainder of my final year and the winter semester (yes, I get to skip the snow) at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. I'm interested in learning about Australian literature and comparing it to the types of Canadian, American and British literature that I have learned about over the past few years!