After receiving a great response from my last blog post Frenchy’s VCE Survival Guide, I decided it was time to share my experience as an undergraduate student at the University of Melbourne (UNIMELB).
What did I study?
In 2015, I undertook a Bachelor of Arts degree at UNIMELB. I took a variety of subjects, from Philosophy to Gender Studies, until I figured out what disciplines I wanted to major in for my second year. I decided that I would major in Italian and English and Theatre Studies, the latter more colloquially known as Literature!
The Melbourne Model
Compared to other universities, UNIMELB has a different study structure. To sum it up, there are generally two types of courses – undergraduate degrees and postgraduate degrees. Arts is an undergraduate degree, and once you complete that, you can then go on to study Honours or Masters, where you can specialise in a given field. You do not have to complete postgraduate studies, but many students decide to.
Another unique aspect of the Melbourne Model is breadth subjects. For every undergraduate degree, you will have to study a certain amount of breadth subjects. These are subjects outside of your given course, which are designed to keep you open-minded.
I studied two of my breadth subjects at the Victorian College of the Arts at the UNIMELB Southbank campus, where I tested out my more musical and creative side. These subjects included Glee Singing and Making Movies. I then studied at the Melbourne Law School back in Parkville, when I undertook Legal Language and Public Trials as part of breadth. I enjoyed all of these subjects, as they each challenged me in different ways and gave me new skills that I would not have been able to develop in a solely Arts-based degree.
Most Arts graduates will agree that the UNIMELB degree structure really opens your mind. It also means that if you have passions outside of your course, like music, science, mathematics or a particular language, you can still study them at a tertiary level!
I did not have a group of friends going into university with me back in 2015, so I knew I would have to open myself up to new friendships. This required a sense of confidence, and was a lot easier than I thought it would be.
I would sit next to people in lectures, or arrive early to my tutorials and introduce myself to the people next to me. To my surprise, most people would reciprocate, and that is exactly how I made my first friend!
On my first day, I met Jane, who I am still friends with today! Jane introduced herself to me, and then I to her. We exchanged social media profiles, and kept in touch. When we had a lecture together, we would organise to meet up beforehand so that we could sit together. That is how easy it is to make friends at university! Just remember, the more open you are to making new friends, the easier it will be!
After a year of meeting new people, you slowly form a great network of friends. I found people so approachable at university, whether it be in classes, around campus, or even at parties.
I also found from my experience that I made more friends through my Italian language classes than any other classes. This was due to the fact that in Italian, we had a variety of group assignments, which meant we all had to bond at some point! For the three years of my degree, my Italian classes barely changed. It was mostly the same group of people year in and year out, which meant by the end of third year we were all a “famiglia”, and had lots of fun!
I have had a few questions on my YouTube channel regarding student life at UNIMELB, so I want to discuss this in as much detail as possible!
Firstly, I did not live at any of the colleges on campus, but if you are looking for the full university experience, that might be an option for you! I lived in the city throughout my degree, which was close enough to campus for me! I spent a lot of my spare time on campus, which I believe allowed me to make the most of the student experience. Just by being at university, and choosing to hang around between classes, I met a whole heap of friends, who I now consider my best friends!
During my time as an undergraduate student I also joined numerous clubs. There are over 200 student-run clubs and societies at UNIMELB, which means there is most likely a niche group out there who share the same values and interests as you! Some of these clubs include:
- Kpop Club
- Potter Heads (for all you Harry Potter fans)
- Coffee Appreciation for Enthusiasts
- Wine Society
For the full list click here.
You can also test out your leadership skills within each of these clubs and become a general committee member, or an executive committee member. Last year I was the co-president of the Melbourne University Italian Social Club, which was an incredible learning experience for me. I managed a committee of 16 students, and a paid-member base of over 400 students.
Events held by clubs and societies can include weekly barbeques, food-based events, film screenings, boat cruises, bar nights, pub crawls, balls and even camps!
UNIMELB has some great facilities. My favourite is the Arts West building, which is designed for Arts-based subjects and students. There are spaces designated for each discipline across campus, but you are not limited to them! You can find study spaces in most buildings, from actual libraries, to other, more casual communal spaces.
In my third year, I spent a lot more time studying at university, so that I did not have to bring my work home with me. I would spend my nights in the library until around 7pm or so, and then walk to Lygon Street to have dinner.
Location, location, location
If you ask any student what they love most about attending UNIMELB, I am certain that many will say the actual campus itself! The UNIMELB Parkville campus is incredible. This is especially the case in Autumn, when you will walk along South Lawn and see crisp autumn leaves cover the path leading towards the Old Quad.
For anyone who does not know, the main campus for UNIMELB is located in Parkville, an arm’s length away from Lygon Street in Carlton. There are many public transport options to get to university, which makes travelling a breeze. The location of the university also means that on those long study breaks, you can take some time to explore the beautiful city of Melbourne!
My time as an undergraduate student was incredible. I could not recommend a Bachelor of Arts degree enough. It was everything I dreamed of and more, and because of it, I am such a more well-rounded, open-minded and analytical person.
If you have any more questions about life at UNIMELB, leave a comment below as I would love to help you out in any way that I can!
Chelsea Elizabeth xx
P.S. If you would like to watch some of my UNIMELB-related YouTube videos, here are my favourites:
Explore campus with my friends and I…
Come along to a Pizza Party on campus…
Walking and talking around campus…
See what the 2017 UNIMELB Italian Social Club Ball was like…