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Every year in high school my friends and I would moan about how old we were getting, and how close we were to having the whole safety bubble of secondary education popping from around us, forcing us to stumble blindly towards the mysterious world of “real” life.

I’m not really that shy, but I am ridiculously clumsy, and still share the same concerns as all first year students (apart from perhaps the freakishly confident and/or the nonchalant and apathetic): will I make friends? How will I find my first lecture theatre? At what rate of frequency will I humiliate myself on the first day?

If my beginning days of high school are anything to gauge by, I should rock up to uni brandishing a book with “Don’t Panic” inscribed in large friendly letters on the front, several maps, and at least ten different kinds of personal entertainment. Let me explain. On our High School orientation day, my dad and I arrived on time, and all was hunky dory until we realised we had left my passport (for some kind of personal identification) at home; I was stranded in the Fountain Quad, clutching origami papers and putting on a real show of pretending like I truly wanted to be there, completely alone. On my real first day of school, I managed to catch the wrong train – an express from Redfern to Ashfield which slowed down to a torturingly slow speed at my stop, Petersham, but still never let me out. As I tried to rectify the problem, I almost caught an express all the way back to Redfern.

These days, however, we are not alone. Somewhere along the way, it was decided that shoving all the first years face first on the first day was slightly overwhelming, and so apart from O-Week, different faculties have organised day events for students to come in, mingle and get to know each other - aided by peer support style activities, trivia, and of course, free chocolates. So last Saturday I attended the Science Students Transition Workshop (and no, we don’t have a cool name like Arty Starty, but in our defence, our formal at the end of the year is called Buckyball, the geekiest science in-joke that hopefully only Chemistry students will get).

After our registration and welcome speech in the Great Hall (I was disappointed that the ceiling didn’t replicate the changing sky), we were herded off into “smaller” groups of 70 or 80, clustered together based on our subject choices. Our lecturer Lisa gave us some valuable advice to put Manning Bar out of our radar until second semester, informed us of her own false expectations of uni being filled with kegs of beer and pillow fights, and also taught us the importance of being able to do a good Mexican wave.

Although my high school was fairly wide scope in terms of multiculturalism, I was happy and yet somewhat shocked to meet people from all over at the Science Day. I live fairly close to Sydney Uni, and was definitely considering myself lucky when I met students from Tasmania and Bathurst who have moved into the colleges, as well as kids from Gosford and something that sounded like Minto, who spend around two hours on public transport just to make it here. Miss Tassie and Mr Bathurst could count the number of students coming from their high school to Sydney Uni on one hand, while I estimate that more than half of my grade will be entering with me this year. It really gave me some perspective and I realised that this day gave everyone a chance to meet some new people.

I suppose the moral of the story today is not to be scared. We were categorised into even smaller groups with people we will actually be having tutorials with, and were forced to swap phone numbers and email addresses so we could catch up at O-Week. We were slightly scared by the fact that first years are apparently so easy to spot by their constant state of confusion and their always holding a map, and we know that we basically are the small fish in the big, bad pond, but with so many opportunities to meet new people (even if it’s just asking them where Fisher Library is), we’re bound to see at least one familiar face in a lecture or lab, and it is this comforting thought that makes the transition a whole lot smoother. At least this means I can retire my “Hi I’m Asako, Be My Friend” nametag!

Comments

Congratultions on your first "blog" Asako-Sophia. Your entry has brought back memories of my first day at high school, and I too remember how my first attemt at making new friends was walking up to a girl and asking her, "will you be my friend?".(True story) Even though that was around 30 years ago, she turned out to be my very best friend and was even a bridesmaid at my wedding. I still keep in touch with her today and treasure her friendship dearly. I have no doubt that you will make many many new friends, and be succesful in your new ventures. I was not fortunate enough to have enough brains to get into university all those years ago, but I look forward to hearing all about uni life through your eyes. To all the new students there, good luck to all of you. You are the future of Australia and one day you all will be running this country. Make good choices and always think before you act in whatever you do. My best wishes go out to all of you, and time has a way of travelling fast, so make the most of it and don't blink cause you might miss something. To Asako-Sophia, I have no doubt that my beautiful neice will make the most of her uni life. I have been there from the day you were born and love you very much. You have grown into a beautiful and very popular young lady, and I wish you luck with everything. Your enthusiasm will get you far..... Your favourite Aunty, Poppy.
P.S. So sorry if i have embarrased you, but thats part of uni life....

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