Valerie Casanova discusses moving to Melbourne from an recent overseas students perspective

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

    Australian culture is very relaxed and non-hierarchical, lecturers and other students aren’t bothered when you need help, instead asking for help is encouraged. Your tutors are there to assist you with any questions you have about the course content. If you’re a little intimidated to ask a question in front of your peers, go to your tutor’s consult. It’s one-on-one and entirely focused on whatever concerns you have.

  2. It’s okay if everything doesn’t go according to plan

    A plan is all well and good, but don’t think it’s the only way to go. You never know whether you’ll have a change of heart or discover a new passion that will take you in a different direction. When you enrol in a subject and realise that it’s not something you’re enjoying or interested in, you can withdraw. Leave before the census date and you will receive a refund on your tuition fee for that subject, which you can use to enrol in a new subject of your choice. No plan? That’s ok too. It’s what the Melbourne Curriculum is for, to provide you with the opportunity to explore your options.

  3. Cooking’s not that hard

    My Uber Eats history is actually something to be ashamed of. If you don’t know how to cook, now’s the perfect time to learn. Ask your flatmates for help, ask Google, watch recipes on YouTube. Don’t spend $25 on a single serve of pasta. Get some fruit and veg into your diet too. Your bank account will thank you, and your body.

  4. Avoid taking a subject because it’s easy and you need to boost your WAM

    If you didn’t do too well in your first semester, it can be tempting to take an easy subject for a high distinction. Instead consider whether you are struggling to keep up with your workload. Maybe it would be more beneficial to take three classes during the semester instead of four - this is still a full load. You can enrol in a winter or summer subject after the semester is complete. This means you can take in subjects you’re actually interested in. Marks do matter, but would you be happy attending a class you can’t stand all semester?

  5. If you’re going to take notes on your laptop, it might help if you turn off your Wi-Fi

    Maybe you have more self-control than I do, and a longer attention span, but I can’t count how many lectures I’ve spent mindlessly scrolling through Twitter or messaging my friends. What’s the point of going to class if you’re not paying attention, right? Also, it saves you the time of watching a lecture capture later in the week.

  6. Go to class!

    I know a fair amount of people who rarely go to lectures or only attend tutes (Aussie slang for tutorials) when their attendance is mandatory. This approach may work for them, but I personally enjoy being there. If I have a question, I can ask the tutor or the lecturer. Easy. It’s also one more way for you to make friends that are completing the same degree as you. Make use of every opportunity that’s given to you. (Don’t forget, you’re paying $$$ for this.)

  7. Start exploring Melbourne from day one

    You’re only going to get busier from your first year. Check out this article for a few of my favourite spots!

  8. Take advantage of the University’s extracurricular opportunities

    The University has so many professional, extracurricular, and volunteer opportunities that would look great on your resumé. Start gaining experience as soon as possible to give you an edge when you begin to apply for internships or jobs.

  9. Self-care days are a must

    There’s always that one week of university that’s unbelievably hectic. You feel like there’s so much to do and not enough time in the day to do it. Be sure not to risk burning out by taking a step back and setting time for yourself to do nothing. Put your mental health first.

  10. Apparently, there’s free breakfast at Union House?

    I’m never on campus early enough for the free breakfast, but maybe if I had known sooner, I would’ve planned my timetable a little differently. The University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) provides a free breakfast each morning, check out their website to find out what’s on offer.

Valerie Casanova
Manila, Philippines
Bachelor of Commerce
Graduated December 2019

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