First_Year@UniMelb wants you!

We’d love you to contribute to the First_Year@UniMelb Blog in 2017.

  • Do you like to write?
  • Do you want to help current & future students understand what uni is all about?
  • Do you want to be part of an online community, sharing advice (and getting advice) about how to settle into & succeed in first year?

The First_Year@UniMelb Blog is currently in its twelfth year of giving first years the space to share their experiences of starting & surviving uni with others.

Future students and fellow first years from Melbourne and around the world read the blog to find out what uni is really like, day to day.

In fact, around 2000 readers a month follow the latest happenings at First_Year@UniMelb.

Want to become a blogger?

Simply submit a 100 word mini-blog about why you would be a great first year blogger!

Be quick – applications close Monday 13 March, 2017.

The end of the year (Raphael)

Hi readers, I finished my exams four weeks ago, but have been so lazy since then that I haven’t made my planned end-of-year post yet! I wanted to write this post to wrap up how I felt about my year.

There are so many different feelings I have had at different times over the last year regarding Uni, from excitement about starting, to anxiety over the change, to stress because of the workload and everything in between. I’m not sure if the year was exactly what I expected it to be, but then again you have no way of knowing exactly what to expect until you jump in.

Finishing first year Uni is not met with nearly as much fanfare as finishing Year 12 — that makes sense, given how the latter is also the end of 13 years of schooling — and the shorter semester terms and less intense timetable compared to school have made me question how much I’ve achieved this year. Did I work as hard as I did last year?

I have decided that I have, just in different ways. I’ve had a massive year and have made such a push to involve myself in whatever ways I could. I think through all I’ve managed to do, I’ve had more fun and found out more about myself this year than any other before. Uni is like a new start, starting a brand new goal of a degree at a new place with a new style of learning.

The study has been harder and more intense than it was at School despite the flexible timetable and I think I’ve learnt a lot this year. I’ve got marks that I’m happy with too, so despite some speed bumps, I think I’ve made the most of my education in first year.

I don’t have a job, and while during semester I don’t feel like I have enough free time to devote to one, in between semesters I feel like I’d like to do more to save for the future (I’m planning to go on exchange in 2018!) It’s so hard to break into the jobs market, but until I do I’ll just enjoy the extra holidays I’m having now. I’ve also got a summer subject coming up and a lot of volunteering in January, so there’s not a lot of time to spare anyway!

My only regret this year is not blogging more! It’s hard to find time in busy uni life to sit down and write for all of you, but I hope you’ve enjoyed my posts throughout the year.

I still can’t believe the year’s over and that Christmas is less than two weeks away. Each year goes by faster than the last, I swear! I have had a massive year, and am so happy to have successfully finished first year Uni!

So bring on 2017, whether it be your second year like me, Year 12 of school (strap yourself in!), or if you’ll be starting your first year at Uni and maybe joining this blog. Well done on your work over this year, be proud of yourself and Merry Christmas!


Roots (Aimee)

Image result for spring bud

Hello my reader buddies! How are you? Enjoying all the marvels of Springtime? If you’ve got hay-fever, probably the only thing you’re enjoying is a box of Kleenex. If so, that’s awful! (Have you tried the new aloe vera 3ply??) In a way, Spring’s arrival is quite appropriate. This time of year is all about transitions and here we are: about to go our separate ways! *Sniff, sniff* But before we rugby-tackle the hay-fever sufferers for their tissues, we’ve got one more post to get through! So, prepare those stiff-upper lips, my reader pals! (Though not literally, because that would be slightly weird…)

The other day, I was – you guessed it – in an exam and a tiny-huge event happened: I dropped my biro. (Thrilling, I know!!) The soft ‘clunk’ of my pen on the floorboards gave me dejavu. I could picture myself as an unsuspecting first year, diving to recover a much-loved yellow highlighter, in my very first week. Well, I thought, I’ve moved on since then! With confidence, I leaned forward, deploying the utmost subtlety, to retrieve my biro. Leaning subtly, though, is harder than it looks. (Especially if, like me, you identify as ‘clutzilla’.) In one ungraceful move, I slid straight off the chair and nearly smashed my head on the table leg. *Sigh!*

It’s not the first time I’ve had a ‘just-kill-me-now!’ moment. It certainly won’t be the last. The truth is, though I’ve been here for nearly a year, uni still manages to throw-up occasions which are embarrassing/shameful/make me want to wear a paper-bag on my head. It’s even more mortifying when these mishaps are entirely preventable. Sometimes, for reasons known only to my inner-idiot, I make the same mistakes. I procrastinate. Don’t study enough. Study too much. Put my foot in my mouth. Put my foot where there is no floor and fall over backwards. (Yes, this happened!)  Or else, I make the egocentric blunder of thinking that I’m in control… only to discover (for the eight-thousandth time!) that I don’t have complete power over the entire universe. (And frankly, the universe should be grateful!)

The only thing that comforts me (metaphor incoming!) is thinking of myself as a plant. (And by this I mean something appropriately poetic and sweet-smelling, not a venus fly-trap.) Every day, I grow a little, only to be stepped-on or squashed because I’ve set down my roots in the wrong place/at the wrong time. It’s okay though, because every day, I learn. And even though, sometimes, I have to build myself up from the bottom again, my roots are strong and I’m hanging out for that sunlight, baby!

I could have written you posts about study-techniques and strategies. I didn’t. Mostly because everyone else already knows better than me, anyway! Yet, I also figured, we’re all in the same rickety boat: trying to improve ourselves and seem flawless. Meanwhile, we’re still tripping, blundering and dropping our stationary. That’s okay. However many times/how badly we stuff it up, there’s always a better tomorrow coming… so long as we’re resilient. Still, it’s easy to think that you’re hopeless and everyone else is perfect. If you get anything out of my blog, I hope it’s that you’re not the only one who occasionally finds yourself in a bit of a stinker. We all do. Whatever lengths we go to to hide it, we’re all stinky underwhelming human beings at heart.

Whew! Enough deep stuff! Time for a quiz!

Q1. It’s the first week of uni and you can’t find your tut-room. Do you…

A. Get on your knees and pray for strength

B. Go visit a random tut-class and learn about the socioeconomic ramifications of climate change instead

C. Get so upset that you decide to skip the tut, go home and watch netflix

Q2. You’re having an ice-breaker convo with someone you just met on campus and you uncharacteristically say something awkard. Do you…

A. Ask for cosmetic surgery on your tongue.

B. Burst into tears and book a flight to a deserted island where no social-interaction is required.

C. Pretend to have been possessed by aliens and use your phone to dial the mothership, requesting an emergency beam-up.

Q3. You have an exam tomorrow. Your reaction could most accurately be described as:

A. I’ve been studying for this exam on quantum physics my whole life.

B. What exam?!? (Due date, do date!)

C. I hear the Bahamas is nice at this time of year…

Adios, my blog-readers. Thank you so much for being there for me, throughout all of my triumphs and challenges. In return, I wish you all the best for all of yours.

Love always,


*Cue happy dance music, balloons and party poppers*






Computer Science @ Unimelb (Raphael)

Hi everyone, hope exams are going well for you all! For anyone interested in it, I thought I’d make a post to reflect on my study of Computer Science this year at Uni. It’s an area that really interests me and that I’ve really enjoyed learning about this year.

A core part of Computer Science is programming; writing the foreign-looking code which forms instructions for computers to carry out tasks for you. You start very basic, but it’s immediately powerful and magical, letting you take input from the keyboard and do whatever you like with it, using the insane power of computers to execute countless commands in fractions of a second.

If you’ve done a little bit of programming in the past like I had, and been hooked on the feeling of seeing your program work perfectly after a long time spent writing it, I’m happy to tell you that this feeling continues at University. Creating something from nothing, after a long time spent thinking, reasoning and solving the problem one line of code at a time feels great, and it’s one of the things I love about the discipline. I was worried that as programming started to get more advanced and complex that it would lose this aspect, but I’m happy to report that first-year CS has been all I was hoping for.

In semester one, you study the subject COMP10001 Foundations of Computing. It’s been a very vibrant subject I’d say, with great lecturers and an interactive learning site to guide your beginnings in programming. Most of the subject is about programming (with the Python language) but there’s also a bit about general computing topics like the internet and problem-solving algorithms.

Projects formed a major part of the assessment, and were fun for me. There were three of them, and they got quite difficult, with the second one being widely complained about! There was a particularly memorable moment of solidarity a few days before the Project 2 deadline, where computing students crowded a computer lab, getting the last bit of help we could from the tutor-on-duty and trying, individually but all at the same time, to figure out how to do the project. The last assignment involved writing an AI player for a card game, which may sound crazy for an introductory subject, but you’d be surprised by how much you can learn in a semester, and the card game project was a great experience.

Second semester is COMP10002 Foundations of Algorithms, where you go much more in-depth with techniques for solving Computer Science problems like sorting and searching data, comparing algorithms and figuring out the trade-offs for each. There’s a lot more learning under-the-hood, and going more in-depth with programming using the harder C language. However, there’s still plenty to enjoy, including a great, engaging and entertaining lecturer! Seriously, if you can do this subject in second semester instead of first, it will be worth your while! (I can’t speak for the lecturer in S1, but S2 is just so good!!) The two assignments in COMP10002 were very challenging, but also very rewarding and I learned heaps from them.

Both subjects include a mid-semester test as well as an end-of-semester exam. The COMP10001 mid-sem was the first time I had been in exam mode since VCE exams, and it was significant to go back into a big room (Wilson Hall) with rows of chairs and have to find your seat. Uni exams are better than VCAA exams though, you can even take your phone into the exam room as long as it’s turned off and under your table! During end-of-semester exams, you’re in the huge Royal Exhibition Building with thousands of other students, you have a seat number that you have to find and you have to have your student card to get marked off. There process feels different but becomes familiar after a while, even though I’ll still never be comfortable with exams!

So whether you’re thinking of doing a B-Sci in Computing and Software Systems, or you’re set on Arts but will take Computing as your Breadth elective (both good choices), get excited for Computer Science @ UniMelb!

I’ve got another couple of weeks of exams, but I’ve got a bit more to write about before my year blogging is over. So keep checking back over the next few weeks!

Raph 😄

PS If you’re interested at all in how quickly Computing as a field has grown, check out this article I wrote about it for the student magazine Farrago!

The Food Episode

Back home, the streets were never really made for walking, with grotty public transportation and consistently hot climate. While it didn’t really limit the paths I could take (taxis were much cheaper), it made “random” encounters to a restaurant, bistro or specific café require planning to an extent, and random discoveries to eateries are unseen aside from the ones that are located inside shopping centres. Melbourne, with its push towards public transport and temperatures that aren’t consistently above 30 degrees Celsius allowed me to walk every day, either within campus, around the CBD, or even the odd trips to North and West Melbourne for some bargain tech hardware. This also allowed me to just explore the city for various things that sounded good, and end up being a unique experience. Continue reading “The Food Episode”

Who you gonna call?!? (Aimee)

Image result for the young ones

Hello there blog-readers and other life forms!

I hope you’re well and feeling on top of exams/work/life in general. At least, I hope exams/work/life aren’t on top of you! (It’s okay, they’re on top of me too – ssh, don’t tell anyone…) Today I thought I’d embrace my inner journalist and give you an exposé. That’s right! Today, I’m going to give you all the dirt (literally and metaphorically!) on living in a share-house.

It’s a hard but inevitable truth that when you move into cheap lodgings with several other messy and confused young people, it can feel like living in a third world country. For starters, you have the conventional hiccups. By these I mean the zoo of uninvited pests, the various species of mold growing on the walls and the frequent house-fires. (Our kitchen has caught alight so many times this year that if you announce, “THE STOVE’S ON FIRE!!!” the most you’ll get by way of response is, “I’ll be down in a minute…”)

To these we must add the food-shortages, which I guess, aren’t that surprising, given the complete lack of kitchen competence. In case you’re wondering, the two-minute noodle stereotype is absolutely true! Yet, I’ve seen some  more creative solutions to an empty food cupboard. One day, when he’d run out of both microwavable meals and milk, my housemate dined on a bowl of weetbix with Up & Go for lunch, followed by a loaf of frozen garlic bread for dinner. Parents’ reactions to these teething problems are always interesting… The more devoted types will arrive at your door every week with care-packages of soap and frozen dinners alla Red Cross. Others keep well clear, in the hope that the ‘little darlings’ will sort it out for themselves.

So much for the boring stuff… But what is an independent student supposed to do about the utterly unexpected – nay – ridiculous? What, for example, do you say when you can’t sit on the toilet because, last week, your housemate stood on it and snapped the seat in half? (Apparently, he wanted to see what his hair looked like from the back!) What becomes of diplomatic relations when housemate A wants revenge because housemate B ate all his peanut butter? Then, while avenging himself, he accidentally eats all of housemate C’s vegemite, by mistake!

This might make share-house living sound a bit anarchic… which, to be honest, it is! But a journalist should consider both sides of the story. So, it would be remiss of me not to tell you about the magical side of becoming a housemate…

A while back,  my very humble abode was disturbed by blood-chilling screams. The noise was coming from Housemate B’s bedroom. First on the scene was Housemate C, who thought that Housemate B had been bitten by the mouse and was bleeding to death.

“Is everything alright?”

More screaming. I followed, thinking there had been a murder.

“Do you need help??”

Housemate B’s screams became sobs. Lucky last came Housemate A.

“What’s all the noise about!?”

Housemate B continued to cry hysterically.

“ARE YOU OKAY???” bellowed the other three.



The housemate rescue team sprung into action. In a mad rush, I grabbed some paper towels, Housemate C changed the sheets and Housemate A turned on the washing machine. Housemate B stood back, wiping her eyes and hiccuping, “Thank you… I love you guys!!”

It was only after the initial panic died down that we noticed Housemate B’s laptop. Skype had been left open. There, on the screen, was the smiling face of Housemate B’s boyfriend. He had been sitting there the whole time, watching on serenely, while his lady-friend and her housemates ran rings around each other.

It’s irrefutable that a bunch of naive and vulnerable adolescents, stranded in a crummy flat, spells chaos. The wonderful thing is, when you’re in a share-house, you and your fellow inmates bond over your shared vulnerability and naiveté. After all… who will be there with a congratulatory doughnut when you score an H1 or a big tub of ice-cream when you’ve been dumped? Who will run to your side when you need love to depend on or a shoulder to cry on? Who you gonna call?

The answer is simple. Your housemates. Every single time.



Week 12!!! (Raphael)

It’s week 12! Congratulations to all my fellow first years for making in this far for a second time, it’s certainly an achievement!

This semester has been a whirlwind for me for different reasons than semester one, and while I started off better this time around and had a better idea of what to expect, there was still a lot of intense and challenging study, and I’m realising that that side of things isn’t going to slow down any time soon. But I’ve managed, I’m mostly up to date with all my subjects and have been more organised than last semester to fit a lot more into these 12 weeks. So I’m feeling somewhat confident going into SWOT Vac (if that’s possible haha!)

But Week 12: It’s that time when semester’s basically over. Some lectures and classes have already finished up and you’ve strangely got a bit more time on your hands. You have half a dozen emails from the University asking you to give feedback for the subjects you’re still finishing, and another couple prompting you to re-enrol for next year.

I’m the kind of person who likes to procrastinate by thinking to the future, and what I’ll be doing once the next wave of exam stress clears and the future opens up once more. So I’ve been looking at the handbook today, trying to figure out how to pick subjects, and especially which elective breadth subjects will be the most worthwhile and let me make the most of the choice I have.

“That subject looks good” … “But it’s similar to what I’m already doing”
“What about that one” … “Well, you already want to do two music subjects, you surely shouldn’t do a third!” And on it goes. It also doesn’t help that there are five subjects which I would like to take which are all only offered in second semester *groan* but that’s a problem for another day.

So good luck everyone with exams, and stay motivated with the knowledge that Summer and Christmas (my favourite time of the year!) are just around the corner. 🎄

For all you doing Year 12 exams, even better luck for the coming weeks, and I’ve got a few more posts planned just so you keep a clear view of what you’re looking forward to next year!

Raph ☺️

The Pizza that Broke the Student's Back (Aimee)

Image result for mouldy pizza


Hello and welcome, my blog-reading pals!

Seeing that we’ve reached the business end of Semester 2, I thought it would be nice to start this post with some meditation… that’s right, meditation! Because, let’s face it, life can sometimes be as fast-paced as a Vin Diesel action movie. And, even though we can’t rewrite Fast and Furious, it’s comforting to know that we can always hit the pause button!

So, put away your cringey-sceptic face and let’s begin! Wherever you are (wouldn’t it be a stroke of brilliance if you were doing this in a lecture theatre?!?) I want you to sit with your legs crossed… or maybe lie down… or lie down with your legs crossed and a paper bag over your head, if you must! Now, close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths. With each breath-out, release whatever worries are floating around in your head. Now repeat, “I am not the body. I am not the mind. I am eternal love.” Just for fun, take another deep breath, vibrate those vocal cords and say, ‘OM……!” All done? Good!

I don’t know about you, friends, but I’ve definitely had to channel my inner Zen Buddhist these past few weeks!  As an Arts student, I was promised a few hours of class a week, with most of my time free… free to drink lemonade… through a windy straw…with a cute little umbrella attached…on a beach… on a far-away tropical island. (Okay, maybe they didn’t promise me the umbrella!) The point is, I came to uni expecting a healthy work-life ratio.

This semester, however, things changed. I decided to take both Italian and Psychology, which each involve 5-6 hours of class a week, plus plenty of homework. If that wasn’t enough, due to the gods of university timetabling, my schedule included three 9am-6:15pm days a week… which meant leaving home at 8am and returning at 7pm…with hardly any breaks between classes… Are you starting to get the idea?

By week 3, I was diabolically whacked! Every day, I had to leave my alarm clock on the other side of the room, just to force myself out of bed. Even then, getting up in the morning made me want to punch my alarm clock… and smash it into a million pieces… and burn the pieces… and destroy the ashes in a melting pot of lava! I was starting to speak my own special language (which only the severely sleep-deprived or Biomed students will understand!) and fall asleep in the middle of class. Worse still, things which used to be easy (like trips to the supermarket) began to seem overwhelmingly hard. In a few short weeks, I had become the walking definition of a ‘place-all-over-the-head’.

In vain, I went to medical experts, expecting to be diagnosed with some kind of rare tropical disease. Actually, the only thing wrong with me was a bad case of burn-out.

The climax came when I was on my knees, trying to shove my home-made veggie-lovers pizza into our desperately over-crowded fridge. After the third attempt, there was a food-avalanche! Suddenly, I was snowed under by a wave of decaying risotto and some left-over mould with a bit of pizza on it.  My poor house-mates had to, quite literally, pick me up off the floor and brush me down, while I wept tragically over the imminent demise of my pizza! In that heart-rending and, at the same time, vomit-inducing moment, I realised how awful I was feeling. It was like I was no longer a complete human-being. My identity had been reduced to student no. 833803. It just took a bit of mouldy pizza to help me make the link!

Twenty-four hours before the census date, I did what I should have done in week 1. I dropped a subject. The following weekend, I spent my entire Saturday in bed.

I told you last week that you should be open to new experiences and pursue your dreams, whatever the risks. All of that’s true. However, knowing your limits is important, too. So is making time for the non-academic things which really matter to you. If something seems like too much, it probably is.

The road back to fully-charged is a long one and I still sometimes feel so under-pressure that I just want to curl up in a ball. Recognising that I was slowly mutating into a zombie, however, definitely helped! As did reducing the load.

So, to all of you at school, uni or work who are working too hard and potentially burning-out – you have my blessing to hit the pause button on life and take some much-needed rest!

Meanwhile, this blogger is going to descend upon the proverbial hay and catch some z’s.

Goodnight, sweet blog-readers!






Splat! (Aimee)

Image result for lorikeet

**WARNING: The following blog post contains a few extremely-justified uses of the ‘s’ word, plus a couple of timely references to poop – reader discretion is advised *nay* required**

Hey there my reader buddy!!

Long time, no see! How are you? You look great! Is that a new t-shirt? (Wouldn’t it be awesome if you just bought a new t-shirt before reading this blog? Psychic connection!!)

It’s so wonderful to be here (in your virtual presence) about to enjoy another tête-à-tête! I hope you’ve come prepared with tea and cake! (If you haven’t, please head straight to the kitchen and grab some – I’ll wait!) Meanwhile, I’m keen to fill you in on an (quite literally) eye-opening experience I had recently… So, are you comfy with your cuppa and fruit loaf? (Or your billy and ANZAC biscuit, complete with jolly swagman, if you’re feeling patriotic!)

Excellent! Let’s begin!

The other day, I was walking down the street in the springtime air. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and I happened to pass a beautiful banksia. Full to the brim with the joys of Spring, I stopped to admire its lush red flowers. The branches of the tree rustled. I, veritable tree-hugger, looked up, hoping to catch a glimpse of the magnificent creature concealed there…

Then, out of nowhere: splat! Something warm, sticky and mildly odorous descended from the branches and landed straight in my right eye. It was bird shit. I ducked out from under the banksia and immediately performed the, what I like to call, ‘a-bird-just-shat-in-my-eye-dance’. If you’ve never been in this sticky (or I could say shitty) situation, said dance involved me hopping in circles on one foot, madly rubbing my eye, while screaming, “IT JUST WENT TO THE TOILET IN MY EYE – IN-MY-ACTUAL-EYE – WHYYYYYY!?!?!” and wondering if this is how one contracts bird flu. Looking around, I saw a lorikeet, whose sparkling black eyes seemed to be saying: “Sucker!” If it hadn’t already unloaded on my eyeball, I reckon it would have wet itself. (Your sympathy please!)

Reading this might make you think that I’m just talking crap (and well, fair enough!) but the whole mess caused me to have a philosophical break-through. The fact is, life is full of moments where we avoid doing something for fear of ending up in the poo. Generally, it starts with someone asking us, “Are you sure about doing X/Y/Z? Do you think you’re ready?” Then, we begin to question ourselves. Have I really thought about this? Am I prepared? Finally, unless we’re the sky-diving-off-buildings type, we conclude that we’re barking mad and give up the idea immediately. I know because I’ve done it at least a million times before.

Realistically, we muck-fearing mortals encounter situations which we’re not ready for on a regular basis. Getting dumped on by a lorikeet is only one of them. (Scary, I know!!) I’ve had about 55% of these experiences while starting university. How, for example, do you prepare for the day you first leave home? Or the first time you fall head-over-heels in love? Where is life’s how-to handbook when you’re an Arts student trying to discover your life’s purpose?

The short answer is that there are some things nothing can prepare you for. Probably the biggest one is failure. Which, I think, is why we continue to doubt whether or not we’re ready. But, please don’t, come shat or shine, be afraid to try something because you’re too busy nit-picking about the what-ifs.

Some situations you will never be ready for. Until they happen. And then you will be.

Happy poop-free pursuit of your dreams!






Stuck in a rut?

Pretty much 3 quarters of ‘First Year’ has passed for me, and things are gradually becoming more stable. From locating lecture/tutorial spots to awkward hours on-campus and sleeping time, life in uni gradually becomes… normal, though some of it not in the way I want to. Continue reading “Routines”

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