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Getting ready for uni

Written by:Angela Wilcox-Watson

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PHOTO: @dtsmith_sydney, Instagram

How are you spending the Winter break? Are you on a road trip to the snow? Traipsing through Europe? Or – like me – relaxing and enjoying the local scene? Holidays are great, but no matter what you’re doing, there are plenty of things you’ll miss about Sydney Uni over the break.

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Transition into uni is a big step. In fact, in the first few weeks of each new year, a lot of the students look for assistance to make the shift to uni life a little bit easier.

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Welcome, first years! Summoning every distant memory of my first year of university, I muster a sum total of: astonishment at the mere magnitude of the campus, pondering why nobody ever seems to be in a rush to be anywhere, rating subjects based on the relative weight of textbooks, timing precisely the walk from Redfern station to arrive at your first lecture at precisely 9:00am (factoring in a coffee detour) and discovering that it’s possible to alter your timetable so that you can routinise sleep-ins for the next few years.

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Info Day is a great opportunity to talk to someone before you finalise your course preferences. It's also a great opportunity to have fun. And who doesn't love fun?

The end of school is typically a time of traditions and rites of passages. When I think of my end of high school, I remember a blur of graduations, formals, muck-up days, exams, schoolies and seemingly endless holidays. All these are fun, but without a doubt the most exciting and important summer event on anyone’s calendar should be the University of Sydney Info Day.

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Normally university education and fortune-telling don’t go together, but if you’re interested in finding out what studying at Sydney Uni will be like, then you should definitely be coming to Open Day!

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Insects, super conductors, latex bouncy balls, Quidditch, food DNA and Game of Thrones... these are just some of the fun hands-on activities that will open your mind at Open Day this Saturday.

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Research degrees provide access to like-minded peers and a very deep understanding in a very narrow field. However, the ability to express our ideas in an engaging way outside of our fields, or to think about our research in professional or even commercial contexts beyond academia, are areas that are often neglected. But where do we find the training resources needed to hone these skills, and how do we find the time to practice them?

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Dear Sydney University,

I would like to receive a scholarship because it has always been my dream to attend Hogwarts. After being terribly disappointed in not receiving my Hogwarts acceptance letter when I was 11 years old (I’m sure they made a mistake!), I have now decided that my next best option is to attend Sydney University. This is a why I deserve a scholarship.

I hope I can bring my owl to class.*

(* My sources inform me that this letter may or may not be an actual scholarship application received by the university.)

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My sources inform me that the scholarship money may or may not be secretly guarded by dragons in a vault beneath the Bank Building.

What type of ships are worth a total of $65 million, don't not sail on water but will help you immensely to navigate through the high seas of higher education?

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It has been a while since I was in Year 10, but something I'll never forget was how stressful it was deciding what subjects I'd pick for the impending HSC. Not only was it time to actually start thinking about what I wanted to do with myself*, but it seemed like there was a new language to become fluent in too. Words like “ATAR” and “scaling” were casually tossed around, yet seemed key to being able to do what I wanted. All of a sudden I had to start making some big steps, but was scared to step anywhere for fear of jeopardising it all. So what should you do?

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Journalist. Politician. Lawyer. As professions go, these are some of the least trusted and most hated of all in society – and I happen to study all three! So why pick these subjects, and why study a combined degree?

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Thinking about studying at Sydney, but not sure if you'll get a high enough ATAR for your chosen course? Come to our Revesby event to find your path to Sydney...

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Being a law student at Sydney Uni is not just about avoiding the pretentious people.

I’m a third-year Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Law student (although I once told a health science student that I study a Bachelor of Manning Bar, to which they just looked confused). Basically, being a law student means that while I drink coffee all day and make the most of having only 12 hours of classes a week, I get to complain about how hard my life is that I have to carry heavy textbooks around. So why did I choose this degree?

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As a new semester begins, all seems like it does every year. On the first day we arrive, confident of being perfect students with neatly ruled pages and sharpened pencils. We catch up with friends we only see during class time and sit in lecture theatres that are more full then they'll be for the rest of semester. However, the atmosphere is odd and slightly twinges at the skin. Something is different for me, even though most seems so familiar. This year I am a postgraduate student, working towards a Masters in Physiotherapy. What will it feel like to be a postgrad student?

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I never really meant to get into med school. I wanted to be a Vet or an Architect in high school, and couldn’t imagine being the lead actor in the blood and guts of TV medicine. I dressed like an architect – matching colours and structured outfits are still my thing – and loved talking to animals at every opportunity. But somehow, I ended up here at Sydney Medical School. And I’ve loved every minute of it.

So how did I get here?

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Starting University is a pretty damn exciting time in one’s life. For me it was such a mix of emotions. I cried at enrolment and nearly exploded with excitement at 0-Week. At the time, I had spent a year off from study, travelling and working so I was very ready to learn.

If I could go back and tell 19-year-old me a few things, what would I say?

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Walking through uni the other day I saw people setting up a multitude of stalls along Eastern Avenue. A giddy sense of excitement welled up inside of me as I braced myself for the fun ball of happiness that’s about to explode on campus: O-Week!

Speed dating in Manning Bar isn't the only way to meet new people during O-Week; you can also get an Access card and join a million clubs and societies. But what exactly are clubs and societies?

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Enrolment for me was a painful experience when it needn’t have been. At the end of 2010 I was offered a place to study Arts at the University of Sydney. It was so exciting to me. After 6 months working as a receptionist after school and saving all my money, and 6 months touring Europe alone spending all my money, I was ready to study and ready to learn.

I opened the Arts Handbook to choose my subjects and the sheer number available overwhelmed me. I was meant to choose eight junior subjects, four for each semester and these junior subjects needed to lead to the major I wanted to do. I felt like then and there, in the summer after a very long holiday and time off studying I had to plan the entire course of my next three years. I was sufficiently whelmed.
I asked my friends for help choosing and they offered the following pearls of wisdom “do one about aliens, or gender stuff,” “do what you want” and my favourite, “follow your dreams.”

In the end I decided to just wing it, to rock up at enrolment, burst through the doors of MacLaurin Hall, and just choose then and there.

However when I got there, I was nowhere near as bold and confident as I had hoped to be. I received my forms, attempted to fill out a few boxes and then when it came time to choose subjects I froze. I couldn’t decide. Should I do Music? French? Biology? English? The possibilities buzzed around in my brain and I suddenly burst into tears. I looked around through tear-filed eyes. Other people had brought their parents. I should have brought my parents. Or my mum at least. Mum would have known what to do. I franticly scribbled that I would do Music, Biblical Studies, Australian Politics and Sociology and shoved it at the enrolment officer before I could change my mind.

I’ve now just finished my second year and see that my enrolment experience could have been entirely different. You can change your subjects very easily until the HECS census date, which is usually a few weeks into semester. And I only needed to nominate some subjects for the second semester, but could change them very easily too! Uni is much more flexible that school, there is greater choice and thanks to the online admin systems you can do a lot of it yourself at home. If you have any questions about enrolling to study at Sydney in 2013, jump on here and have a read.

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Today marks the start of the HSC exams. I’m sure many hopeful future Sydney University students were there in the English Paper 1 Exam today; frustration levels rising as their handwriting slowly became illegible amid hand cramps and annoying people clicking their pens a million times.

I was there not all that long ago. I remember HSC exams as being a frantic time, where I organised my colour-coded notes and tried to condense a whole year’s learning onto a single page, crammed with mnemonics and diagrams. I would repeatedly read and re-read this sheet before going into exams slowly rocking back and forth, trying to reassure myself I would be okay.

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I graduated from Sydney Uni two years ago and it was all pretty standard. I posed for the cheesy purely-for-the-benefit-of-Facebook photos. I shook the hands of ridiculously overqualified academics. I walked out of the university grounds and bid farewell to student life, finally ready to take on the “real world”. And then, *poof*! Just like that, everything I’d ever learned, from my very first semester to that momentous occasion, evaporated from my brain.

Now normally, this wouldn’t be too much of an issue. Normally, you can get by with foggy recollections of your studies – even score a reasonable job with a respectable salary. For me, however, that’s not the case.

You see, I’ve returned to Uni this year to study Honours in Psychology (madness!). And not only do I have no recollection of what I learned in two units of statistics, but I can’t recall how to perform a single one of those important “uni student skills” that all uni students are supposed to have – like how to borrow textbooks from the library, and how to reference textbooks from the library, and how to read textbooks from the library, or whether people even use textbooks from the library anymore.

The only upside is that whatever I now lack in book smarts, I can more than make up for with my street smarts. All I have to do is figure out a way to incorporate my wealth of “real world” knowledge into uni life. So I’m wondering, would a thesis on the topic of “101 unique excuses to get out of work” count…?

Bring on semester 1!

When we graduated from year 7 into year 8, it was imbued in us that we were above the incoming year. They were still children, yet to learn the delicacies of high school life. We were higher up on the social ladder than them, finally no longer clueless and in our own minds somehow wiser. We looked down on those little year seveners with a combination of scorn and misplaced pride. Throughout high school, the year below wasn’t of much concern, yet the sense of superiority never left. We were better than they, and they had no idea of what was in front of them.

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Getting ready for uni is both a delicate balance and an all out battle between being comfortable and looking relatively presentable. In this horrific cold, comfort is starting to take precedence over looking good. (That and the fact that not being warm may result in frostbite.)

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Had a great trip to the Bureau En Gros (stationary shop) last Monday. For some reason I love picking out pens, books folders etc... This was followed by the dreaded trip to the uni bookstore, the worst of the damage was my $166 electromagnetism book.

The other thing about canada is that you need to get ready for winter early, so the shorts are going away, and jackets are coming out, even though its only the 3rd week of autumn. It's an exciting time, starting uni in a new city - everything is new and you feel like a first year again, I dont even know where the uni bar is!

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Everybody ready!
Sydney Uni is going Live! This Saturday 29th August.
Everyone is coming out to play,
Join in for the action!
(Don’t forget your sunscreen)
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The clouds have parted, the sun has come out, the blue birds sing and the flowers are in bloom. Spring has sprung, and this can only mean one thing. The HSC trials are over.
Some of you are undoubtedly about to be reported missing, last seen laughing maniacally as you run from the exam room in your underpants, ready to obliterate any brain cell that dared to learn anything useful for the exams. Those of you not on this “Quest to Ingest” may be thinking about university. Quite responsible for someone who is (clearly) not yet eighteen!

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One of the joys of coming to university is getting there.
(Please note I say this with the most sarcastic of intentions possible.)

Before setting foot on the hallowed grounds of Usyd, I actually came from a small country town with not very many people living there. My family lived on a farm half an hour out of town and, needless to say, public transport was non-existent. So when I moved to Sydney, I was at first excited by the glamorous prospect of commuting, bussing and travelling on the likes of CityRail every day.

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There are many kinds of bags that you one can take to uni, I realise. Tote bag, handbag, satchel, backpack, green bag and no bag! Obviously, as has been mentioned by the other bloggers here, there are different bags that people can and will take to uni. However, this is not a post that will hail the fortunes of all the bags there are. There's a time and place for those sorts of shenanigans. This is about why one kind of bag is better than them all, and how that bag is the backpack.

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With less than two months till the completion of my degree (arggghhh!) my mind is awash with decisions, choices & opportunities. This is one of those crucial turning points where your life changes forever. And if you are sitting at your desk procrastinating from study in post-trial exhaustion, then your position is not all that different from mine!
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Even with the temperamental weather that’s plaguing Sydney this week, nothing can dampen the spirits for Sydney Uni LIVE! on Saturday because we won’t let it and because sandstone’s just as sexy, if not sexier, in pseudo-British rain. If worst comes to worst, we still have incalculable numbers of plastic ponchos for the fashion conscious, or so I hear.

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So. I checked my timetable.

All my starts were at the same time, quite early. Poo.

But then I looked closer...

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One thing I was always curious about was what kind of bag I should bring to uni every day, and what people filled it with. So here goes:

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You've made it. You've got your offer. You've enrolled. Now you're ready to start uni. There is a simple list of to do's to get ready for uni.

Oh, and by the way, welcome to the University of Sydney!

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In high school (how many blogs have I started with this phrase?!) we were able to borrow textbooks from the school each year, but at uni you have to have access to your own copy. Sometimes it's enough to go and read the library's copy whenever you need it (though "whenever you need it" may also turn out to be "whenever everyone else needs it" too and you may find the library stripped of copies), but usually you will end up buying several expensive textbooks each semester.

A cheaper alternative is to buy second hand textbooks, and you will see many ads on the back of toilet doors advertising cheap "barely used" (often true) textbooks but you have to get in FAST - I'm often too slow, but...

Here's a fun story about The First Time Asako Actually Got In Early Enough To Snag A Textbook Second Hand, and wow.

Talk about an adventure.

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First year is over!

I know, I know, Keren, Lauren and Cath have dibs on “aaaaahgrhagrhagrhg/%^&@($* uni is over!” but I am still quite shocked at how quickly that went by. So I’m making a little comparison of what I’m doing now, and what I was doing this time last year...

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Despite the fact that I’m a serial procrastinator, I always get excited about preparing before each academic year by buying and covering books, getting my pencil case ready and organising my pens, notes, textbooks. In fact all this may be a cleverly disguised form of procrastination in itself.

The only problem this year was that I didn’t know what to bring to uni! So here’s what I’ve found to be the best options for the newbies.

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Sydney Uni LIVE! A fun filled day of frollicking amongst the sandstone. It's actually the only day of the year where I don't feel a twinge of guilt walking on the grass in the Main Quad. Then again, I am mildly obsessive compulsive.

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I think the one month break I had was the perfect length: I was able to go away for a bit with my family without feeling like I had missed out on too much in Sydney; there was enough time to cool off and forget about exams before results came out; and also to watch two seasons of Scrubs - enough to be (almost) sick of it.

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No, I’m not referring to anything indecent involving a higher than PG rating, but rather the unnerving thought that I have to pack my bags tonight and head off to live on Campus in the Women’s College tomorrow morning for the next 5 years of my life…

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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.

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The last few weeks of these holidays I’ve been enjoying my last vestiges of freedom; seeing crappy and overpriced movies (why oh why didn’t I read Cath’s post on Just Friends?), making money any way I can, having staring competitions with my bedroom wall… the usual.

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If you're like me and you:

- are about to move to Sydney for Uni
- don't know anyone in Sydney
- don't know Coogee from Cronulla, and can't even find your way around the CBD...

then first things first, DON'T PANIC! Although it might seem a little redundant having a newbie write a guide for other newbies, let’s establish one thing: we interstate first years are of one breed and, at least during O-week, we’ve got to stick together...

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I don't mean to alarm anyone, but there i sless than three weeks until the start of semester. The good news? It's less than two weeks to O-week!

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I actually think that packing your bag for uni is a bit of an art, so here is what is in my bag of tricks on any given day

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Ah, textbooks. They're keeping your chiropractor in business, but how do you actually get your hands on the damn things? Look no further, I've got it all in my little black book!

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Ever wondered what it's like to go to Sydney Uni, or any uni, for that matter? Here is my unofficial, unsubstantiated guide to getting ready for uni vicariously.

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Righto, track 19, lets put together a list of songs to get your offer to.

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VS who?

7 Jan

If you're up early on a Sunday to watch the lovely Jana Wendt, no doubt you've heard of VSU. Love it or hate it, it's here now. And before you lads and ladies grace the campus in March, it's a good idea to get a heads-up. Here goes...

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What's SWOT???

3 Jan

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Next year is going to be a new and exciting experience. For those of you who like to be prepared to take the bull by the horns, here are a few ideas to help you get ready.

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Uni will sneak up on you before you know it, so it is best to get a head start on the preparations sooner rather then later!

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Everything you ever wanted to know about uni but were too afraid to ask....
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