A magical O-Week

By Sarah Seery

The day had finally arrived; it was time for me to pack up the life that I knew, and move to college!

It was a weird feeling for me, I had lived in one town (one house even!) for my entire life, so to move away was a new and exciting adventure. I packed my most cherished belongings into the car and along with my family, we drove from my home town of Bendigo in country Victoria to Melbourne so that I could begin my Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Melbourne.

Pulling up to International House, I remember thinking about the fact that I was going to have to make new friends and honestly, I felt a bit nervous. In that moment I realised there were people who would be coming from not only all over Australia, but the world, and we were all in the same position. I forgot about my nerves when I was greeted at the International House gates by some of the friendly Orientation Week leaders, known as ‘O Weekers’. Walking through the doors of International House, I was blown away. My family and I were personally greeted by the Deputy Head of College, Peter Cole, followed by the Head of College, Dr. Deborah Seifert, which made me really feel truly welcome. I walked around the Junior Common Room passing different stations, to get the essential items; my pack containing my room guide and my academic gown for formal dinner. At one of the tables around the room I picked up a name tag and I noticed that all of the name tags had different pictures on them, mine being a witch. Little did I know that I’d soon learn the meaning behind the picture. I picked up a goody bag and signed up to all of the O Week activities (which I would highly recommend!) and headed off to find my room.

2016 o-week at IH
Playing Dodgeball on day one of O-week

After I settled in and all of the students and their families had a welcome ceremony, I said goodbye to my parents and headed outside with my fellow ‘freshers’ (students who are new to IH) and joined in a game of dodgeball. I met so many people within that game and it was probably the only time in my life that I’ve actually wanted to get out so that I could keep meeting people. As the game went on, we went around and tried to find people with the same pictures as us, and at the end of the game, the O Weekers told us to gather in our groups. We met our O Week leaders and went into the Dining Hall where all of the O Weekers introduced us to our orientation week… ‘A Magical O Week’. The O Weekers introduced themselves to us and told us their ‘punny’ names which were all, in one way or another ‘magical’. I was fortunate enough to have the ever enthusiastic ‘Professor McConnorgal’ (after Harry Potter’s Professor McGonagall) as my O Weeker, also solving the mystery of the witch on my name tag!

2016 o-week at IH
Learning the fresher dance

Once we were in our groups, we got to complete an activity which really introduced us to one another, and really opened up my eyes as to what an amazing experience I had just entered into. My group was half boys and half girls, as well as half local and half international students. It was really amazing hearing about everyone’s lives up until this point, with people coming into my group from New South Wales in Australia, to people from Delhi in India, everyone had their own stories to tell.

2016 o-week at IH
Getting to know Melbourne during O-week 2016

Over the coming week, these people became my ‘family’. We had a sister group in ‘Cheshire Kate’s’ group and together with the rest of the Fresher Group, we participated in a fun filled week of activities and getting to know one another. Our magic themed activities ranged from cultural seminars and running around the city, to climbing on tables and learning dances, during which all of the freshers bonded and created memories that will last all of us a lifetime.

2016 o-week at IH
Performing for the IH crowd

I could describe all of the activities to you, but that would ruin half the fun and anticipation in not knowing what will come next! O-week is nowhere near as scary as I thought it would be, but one thing is for sure, in just one week, you will form friendships with your fellow freshers as though you have known them for your entire life, and that O-week will, without a doubt, be one of the best weeks of your life!

Published on Tuesday 19 April 2016.