Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25. No. 13. 1962
Varsity—A Fresher's Viewpoint
Varsity—A Fresher's Viewpoint
Life at the University is an experience so shattering, and yet so absorbing, that the fresher, just out of High School has a hard struggle to accommodate and redirect his life into the correct dimensions. For many of the first year students, this very struggle can be the basic trap, which can turn the fresher year into a success or a failure.
At the beginning of the year. I was a first-year student. Never for one minute have I regretted enrolling at the university, but I have witnessed a number of incidents, a number of circumstances and pitfalls into which the unwary, in-cautious, and irresolute student can fall.
The first real insight into some of the more unpleasant aspects of the University came when I joined the cast of Extravaganza. However, if the fresher can avoid falling into the pit of alcohol and sex, Extrav can be great fun. It could become the highlight of the Varsity year. Lasting friendships and contact with some of the administrative officers can throw the student immediately into some of the extra-curricular activity which is so necessary to the enjoyment of Varsity life.
Frances Lipson, who wrote this article, is a fresher at Vic She went to Chilton St. James and to Hutt Valley High School for her fifth and sixth form years. She is doing a B.A.-L.L.B. Recently she was placed third in Vic's first-ever Miss Victoria contest.
Some say that to join Extrav. is to see the authentic Varsity life. I thoroughly disagree. In general, Students are reasonably clean. intelligent men and women. Don't be taken in by the bearded, duffle-coated pseudo-intellectual, nicotine-stained Bohemians. They represent a very dubious section of the students. Under those beards are weak chins, and under the dirt and long hair are weak brains. In truth, the real intellects and the real thinkers are well-dressed, clean, and rather charming people.
Contrary to official opinion, Extrav. cannot lose units for the student. The season finishes well before there is any need for great stress on the student's mental capacities.
The cafeteria is a deceptive time-waster, for the greater part of the lecturing year. Time seems end-less to the first-year student, but don't be deceived by the apparent amount of spare time that seems to be at your disposal, because a few weeks before the final examinations, which are terrifyingly formidable to most freshers, the syllabus seems suddenly to assume enormous proportions.
The fresher's first venture into the big, main library, is a gruel-ling experience. But the sooner the fear of the impersonally curious stare of the resolute, working at the tables, can be overcome, the better. The silence and the heat can become oppressive at first, but it is the only place in the whole of the university, where one can achieve really concentrated swotting. Only the lucky few can work in the common rooms, or out in the sun.
I found the common rooms full fascination at first. This fascination quickly palls. For those who can find compatible spirits, especially in the main commonroom, they could remain full of interest. The room is inhabited mostly by heavy smokers, and dedicated card players, who concentrate on bridge and five hundred, who constantly fail units, and a great deal of whom are no-hopers, merely spongers living off the fat of the land, and the gullibility and purses of their parents.
Don't be daunted by the slight stigma that is associated with the Word "fresher." In general, it is easily overcome, and is found mainly in the ranks of the second years. They can become intolerable with their Wordly-wise expressions and condescending attitude. The fact that the student is a fresher shoudn't make any difference to his progress in the social, cultural and sporting activities in and around the campus.
The organisers of all the university clubs are only too glad to gain fresh, talented recruits, and if the freshers have the ability, the freshers will get the positions on the teams. The committees of these clubs, which are largely made up of more advanced students, are always eager for help in the organisation and administration, and any offers of help are received with open arms.
To stay with the constraints of a high-school clique is fatal. It is only too easy for the fresher, during the first few weeks to congregate with the familiar, friendly faces of school friends. I am not advocating complete severence with people who might have been firm friends for a number of years, and who understandably group together for self defence. All the other hundreds of strangers appear enviably at ease, and irritatingly condescending towards the greenness and inexperience of the first year student.
However, the sooner the fresher can bring himself to talk to strangers, to enter rooms and not retire abashed and timid into a corner, to join clubs, and almost literally to push himself into as many new activities as possible, the sooner he will find himself at ease, with dozens of new acquaintances and many new friends. Above all he will be able to make contact with those students of the university who can show him all the advantages of extra-curricular activity, and who can give him all the recognition he needs to enjoy all the good things on the calendar.
The fresher who has the commonsense and presents of mind in introduce himself to people, to find out about the important occurrences about the campus, to be outgoing, will enjoy Varsity life to the full.
The moment you enter the University as a bona fide student, learn all you can about the professors and the leading administrative Officers Of the university. When elections for the officers for the student executive come around, learn to recognize the candidates, attend the Annual and Special General Meetings. Learn about the hotheads the Anarchists, the brilliant scholars and talented sportsmen among the students. Learn all the names of the students you meet, and remember them.
I have hardly mentioned the academic side of the university, which is the most important one. Each student must work out for himself, which will be the method of study best suited to his inclinations. What I can say is this—it is extremely difficult, amidst all the distractions of other agreeable things, to work up the resolution and the determination to keep up consistent hours of study. There seems always to be "plenty of time." Don't be deceived. An iron will power can make all the difference between units failed or gained.
I realise that this article does not reflect the opinion of a great number of this year's freshers. Some of the opinion expressed is dogmatic, blased, and probably exclusive to me. But the general concensus of opinion amongst those who want to give and get everything possible from their years here, is: Have some backbone, get to know as many people as possible, and have the time of your life.