By Tom Collins (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia).
On my first morning at Burton and Garran Hall, I’m not gonna lie, I was scared to leave my room. It was the first time I realised I was actually on the other side of the world and had no one. When I finally did leave my room, I went over to the main block and we were all divided into groups of about fifteen and were taken on a tour of the city centre, which they call ‘civic’ in the same way we’d call it ‘town’. Each group bought food and cooked together and everyone shared the food. It’s a really good idea and it was from this that I started to make friends. It was so easy in the end!
During the week there were loads of events including a drag night (knocking on a random girl’s room and asking if I could borrow a dress was something I didn’t expect to do). There was also a toga party, a murder mystery night and finally a music festival, a bit like ANU’s version of Pangea. I only knew one of the acts, but the Australians seemed to know who the others were and it was really good! Of course these nights always ended up with us going out. Canberra’s nightlife, unsurprisingly, has nothing on Manchester.
The biggest difference between O week and freshers’, however, was the amount of events that occurred in the day as opposed to just at night. There was a freshers’ fair just like in Manchester, but throughout the week there was also a trip to the local swimming pool, a water fight with another hall and lots of BBQ’S! The best thing about B & G is that you get fed during O week so there’s no need to buy your own food.
My advice would be to get involved as much as you can. No one here has any desire to be cool, and therefore everyone gets involved and judges a lot less. This all creates a really good ‘college spirit’, which is really nice to be part of as it is so different to back home. I probably met more people in my first week at B & G than I did in my whole first year in Manchester. The University of Manchester and all universities in the UK could learn a lot from the college system here at the ANU.
The following week was the first week of lectures. In this week I sat in on several different courses to get a feel for them. I went to two lectures which were at least third year subjects, and I knew straight away they were too difficult for me. I then met with the exchange advisor at ANU and finalised my choices. I ended up taking Foundations of Australian Law, Australian Public Law, Corporations Law and Succession Law. I’d definitely recommend sitting in on a few courses before committing yourself, it really is the only way you can properly understand whether they are suitable.
My first impressions were that the lectures were very similar to back home. One difference was that our timetable is not generated for us like in Manchester. You have to go onto a timetable builder and click on your courses to build it yourself. I also had to get used to using Wattle, which is the ANU’s equivalent of MyManchester. It is very similar however and was not a problem. Academic differences are something I’ll talk about more when I’m more familiar with the system.
Overall, O-week was amazing. If you are going on exchange I can say with almost certainty that you’ll make friends, so there’s nothing to worry about on that front. That’s speaking from my experience at the ANU anyway!
Get involved, or as Aussies would say, ‘get around it’!