Eliza Berlage debunks the myths about starting university and shares her wisdom about making the most of your time at UTS.



It may be a simple ten letter word, but if you’re about to start your first year then it ’s enough to induce a serious case of word-vomit (and maybe actual vomit). UTS may be big. It may be dark. And considering that there are no limitations on the way men (or women) can grow their facial hair, then I suppose it is also a bit hairy. But it should never be scary.Some people believe that if we define something, we make sense of it. And having gained understanding, the thing is less scary. A university is formally defined as “an educational institution designed for instruction and examination of students.” However, it is essential to consider that a university also refers to the “members of this collectively.” As corny and clichéd as it sounds, University is about U!

Afraid you won’t fit in? Don’t worry, it ’s far better to stand out! There are thousands of students buzzing in and out of UTS with various routines, so the prospect of the campus having a popular group or Queen Bee is impossible. Devastated that none of your old friends are going? Consider uni a fresh start. It ’s a melting pot of cultures and subcultures. You’ll be mixing with people from all over Sydney, as well as interstaters and international students. Hipsters, socialists, greenies, budding politicians, athletes, engineers, they’re all here! They’re also all supported. Our fantastic Students’ Association is available for advice and support on legal matters, and there are dedicated spaces and groups for wom*n, queer and indigenous students. Embarrassed about going to an ugly university? Don’t be. Think of UTS like a pug. We may not have the ‘pretty’ poodle prestige of our sandstone frenemies up the road, but you will learn to love our strange, vaguely intimidating appearance.

And though we may be grass-deficient, just remember, it is not a crime to expand your social circle further afield and chill up in Victoria Park or on the USYD lawns from time to time. Sure there are lots of people you can meet, but how do you make friends? Well, actually just talking to people is an excellent start. UTS is an active campus with a variety of social events and groups. There’s something for everyone – from sports to beer appreciation, from entrepreneur events to gamers’ tournaments and theatre performances. At O Week and throughout the year, you can sign up to as many societies and clubs as you like (just remember that many have a joining fee, so shop around before you decide where to commit your hard-earned or government-funded money). Don’t have time for social groups? There are plenty of other opportunities to make a splash. Start a conversation with someone in your tutorial. Then if you hit it off, invite them for a drink or coffee at your favourite café or dumpling bar. Always start your Wednesday with a free gourmet breakfast and some new faces at the Bluebird Brekkie Bar and finish up the day getting creative, crunk and competitive at the Glasshouse for trivia. They also throw themed events for special occasions like St Patrick’s Day and the Melbourne Cup, or if you want something classier you can find a tasty tipple, live music (and me) at the Loft.


Don’t let geography cripple your social life. There are many ways to be in the middle of the action even if you’re still living in the ‘burbs with your parents. Make uni your second home! The campus is equipped with everything you need to feel refreshed. Take advantage of discounted gym memberships (showers!) or get yourself a locker. For $20 a semester, you can have your own storage space in Building 1 or 2. It ’s a whole lot cheaper than renting an inner-city apartment, and it has most of the benefits (aside from being able to bring a ‘special ’ friend home). Keep your university supplies like laptops and lab coats safe or turn your locker

into a pop-up wardrobe! Just stock it with spare clothes, toiletries, a hair straightener and heels so you’re always ready for a quick change before a big night out. And what about the day after? Whether it ’s dancing ‘til the sun comes up or studying until your head nods off, allnighters take their toll. Luckily for you, UTS provides.

It ’s common to see students snoozing on the bed-like couches in the Tower, dozing on the tabletop desks in lecture theatres or pulling up a beanbag under the library stairwell for a siesta. Getting forty winks is as easy as finding the right spot. Returning to the idea of defining something to make it less scary, let’s take the word ‘campus’. A campus refers to the ground or buildings or a university or institution. If you weren’t already aware, UTS is unique and unlike USYD or UNSW, an area of plazas, buildings and alumni grass doesn’t define it. UTS does not warrant its own postcode, it ’s just a university that’s one with the city. Travel between classes requires careful jaywalking and navigating different parts of the CBD – Chinatown, Broadway, Ultimo and Chippendale. Each has a slightly different vibe and food, fashion and fun to sample. In a way, the boundaries of the UTS campus don’t exist, and not to sound cheesy, this seems like the perfect metaphor for the kind of university experience you can have here. If you grab opportunity by the (metaphorical) balls and run with it, then your student life can be limitless and prosperous.

It ’s all up to U.