In Limbo: Being New in Semester Two

With semester two starting this week, you may be finding it difficult to get back into the swing of things. However, what about those who are starting University for the first time? Although Bush Week attempts to help new students integrate into University life, the semester two intake can feel as though they are in an awkward limbo – as if their University experience is out of sync with the norm. I sat down with three students who started university in semester two, 2017, to hear about their experiences and any advice they have to fellow students who are new to ANU.

  1. What were the challenges of starting University/moving to a new residency in semester two?

 Shannon: Starting university in semester two was exciting, as it would be for most students starting university. I can’t say I had a very difficult time but I did face a few challenges that I don’t think would have been present if I started in semester one. Integrating into residential life was challenging. Although people were friendly, they weren’t always willing to invite you to coffee the next day. Friendship groups had already been established and the excitement I was experiencing had slightly faded for those who had already been at university for at least a semester. It was really until the next intake of first years that I felt fully settled.

Vegnesh: I wasn’t introduced to the concept of the Resident’s Committee, nor did I have an understanding of their roles until later on. It was harder to make friends as the new students all arrived at different times, and residents who had been here since semester one had already formed friendship groups. Trying to fit into a group that were already close friends was sometimes uncomfortable and nerve wracking. I found that Bush Week was not as helpful as O-Week, as it didn’t have all of the essential information that new residents need to know. Instead, I had to figure these things out over time. There were also less events, and understanding the whole college system and university took longer. Overall, it was pretty intimidating jumping into a cohort that already was familiar with one another and knew how university worked.

 Marina: There were less activities in Bush Week to help meet new people, and everyone already found their good friends. There was also the trouble of trying to plan out your courses. For example, an introductory course usually starts in semester one, so when you start in semester two, professors assume you have knowledge you don’t actually have.

  1. What were the benefits of starting university/moving residencies in semester two?

 Shannon: I feel that starting in semester two meant there was a lot more individual attention on your university experience, unlike semester one intake with a very large cohort. Coming in semester two allows you to get an inside perspective of uni life, and then you can come into the following year, still as a first year, ready to hop on board every opportunity.

Vegnesh:The older residents were so nice and welcoming. It was easy to ask people for help, as people already had knowledge about College life and University. It was also easy to put yourself out there and be noticed, instead of being lost in a sea of over 150 new residents.

Marina: Since there were less people around, it gave me a better opportunity to get to know everyone. Although there are also downsides to this (such as everyone already having their group of friends), the whole experience was a lot more intimate compared to starting in semester one.

  1. What would your advice to those who are in a similar position and are starting university in Semester two?

Shannon: My advice would be simple – despite being half a year behind those born in the same year as you, come into your first year with enthusiasm and a confident attitude. Know that although there is a difference between the first and second semester intake, this should not alter your university experience. University is what you make of it and the outcome of your experience falls largely on you, so try be open minded and make your time here a good experience.

Vegnesh: It takes time to get used to being a student when you start in semester two. Patience is key. Eventually, you’ll find your groove and your group of friends. Joining in semester two already makes you unique because you have a story to tell about why you joined in the second semester. You’ll get the hang of everything! Remember that although you want to step out of your comfort zone, don’t do anything that makes you feel really uncomfortable. Finally, always remember to be yourself.

 Marina: Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to a group of people, even if it’s intimidating! You’re new, so this is your excuse to interrupt and join in conversations. Try not to get too disheartened when it seems like everyone already has a friendship group. You’re not alone in that feeling, just try your best, take a deep breath and put yourself in the weird situation of reaching out to others!

Shannon Viall is a first year Commerce/Design Student who started university in semester two, 2017. She calls Namibia home and currently residents at Burton and Garran Hall.

 Vegnesh Ganesan is a first year Medical Science student who started university in semester two, 2017. He hails from Malaysia and is currently an International Representative at Burton and Garran Hall.

Marina Mito is a first year International Relations and Sustainability student who started university in semester two, 2017. She calls Japan home, and she currently lives at Burton and Garran Hall.