After the international students welcome on Monday and Tuesday, it was time for the official welcome to all new students of USYD began on Wednesday. Australians call this Orientation Week (O-Week for short), which, as a name, is a tad misleading as it only lasts for three days. It’s basically an Australian Freshers Week, which is a great an opportunity to get as many freebies as you can whilst also joining various clubs and societies.
Eastern Avenue – the main road on campus – and the lawns outside the Quad were filled with white tents, each housing a society or sports clubs. The range of things to take part in here is great. There are the usual academic societies to join, including the Social Arts and Sciences Society (SASS) and the Sydney University Global Exchange Society, both of which I joined. Jared made me buy one of the GEX T-shirts against my will, but in the end I’m glad I did because it’s quite cool to have as a souvenir. On top of this there are the usual sports clubs that you see – I joined Squash, Triathlon and Social Soccer (it should be called football). Various musical groups took to the stage to perform, and there was even a marching band strolling around the campus.
However, there are also the societies that we don’t have back at home. Many societies were for exclusively for Chinese students, which makes sense considering how close Australia is to China. The stand out society, though, was the ‘Banter and Meme Society’, who were selling ‘Make USYD Great Again’ caps, a parody of Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan.
Many companies were there promoting their business and offering student discounts, but the main reason people went along was for the freebies. I now have a little collection back in my flat of all the free things I received, including various pens, bottle openers and a Coca-Cola cap! One drinks company had a whole area set aside for people to go and chill in, so we went and played table tennis for a while.
The free food was also good – this included doughnuts, popcorn and a sausage sizzle (basically an Aussie hot dog). You could get this if you had an ACCESS card (which I did because I had joined the Student Union). The best thing was that is said VIP on, which made you feel fancy even though most other people had one!
The next day there was another talk, but this time it was a welcome from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences! Luckily, as I walked into the Great Hall I saw one of my European friends (it’s always good when you see a familiar face). The talk itself was less of a welcome – in fact, it was a debate on the question ‘What is Love?’. Nonetheless, it was still interesting. To finish off, we were invited to a free BBQ organised by the Society of Arts and Social Sciences (SASS), which was a cheap sausage sizzle (basically a sausage and a slice of bread). I’m pretty sure the best thing about O-Week was the free food!
The day was spent exploring O-Week with various friends. In the evening, there was a free outdoor screening of Willy Wonka, held in the courtyard of one of the older buidings. The weather was great for it, and even though I was sitting on the ground, it was surprisingly comfortable. Also, there was free ice cream, even though it was a bit small (did I mention I like free food?!).
After this, a few of us spent the night talking in the middle of the Quad, and avoiding the rain when it really started to rain hard. It was a great night!
There isn’t really that much to say about the third day of O-Week as it was pretty much a repeat of the other days – explore the stalls, collect freebies and eat free food. I took part in an escape game in the library, which I’m sorry to say we failed at!
We’d organised a movie night in our accommodation, so I decided to go out and get some snacks for it. The manager of the building, Karen (what a babe), is also British, so we got talking about home and then she told me about the British Lolly Shop in Darling Harbour, which is essentially a shop dedicated to selling British food!
I made it my mission to go and find this shop and buy some British snacks for the movie night. It was only a half hour walk away, so it was nice to stretch my legs and explore, even though the clouds were a bit grey. It turns out that the food is all really expensive because it’s imported, which means Pot Noodles are over $5! However, after I’d bought my Rich Tea Biscuits (delicious), it began to rain. Really hard. And I was walking home. By the time I had returned, I was soaked through. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s always dry in Sydney, because they would be wrong.
In the end, it was a good night to watch a film – we had the media room all to ourselves and I could introduce my American friends to British food. God save the Queen.