Life at Uni

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Students can do much more than just assignments at University

Saylee Gaonkar (extreme right) with performers at Nashaa
Photo: Priyank Menezes Photography


After graduating from High School, young people today opt for different pathways to progress their lives, and one of these going to University to further their education.

So how do students find the experience of studying at Uni – is it daunting, exciting or just an extension of school, a lot of work and no play. Two Uni students share their experiences with Indian Link.


Cultural cooperation

Starting University can be both an exciting and nervous experience, and from a current third year student’s perspective it’s important to find a good study-work-friends balance during your time here. Finding a hobby or interest that you can pursue through the University you attend is a good way of finding new friends, settling into Uni life and finding an escape from all the assignments.  All three Universities in South Australia have cultural groups for students looking to expand their involvement and interest in their culture. I began my tertiary studies in 2012 at the University of South Australia, and will begin the third year of the Bachelor of Physiotherapy degree, which I look forward to successfully completing in the next two years. When I began university, though there were a number of groups affiliated with UniSA’s student-run organisation ‘UniLife’ which strived to improve student life. But there was no cultural society for people of South Asian descent or for those who were simply interested in South Asian culture. This led to the creation of the South Asian Arts Society (SAAS) in January 2012, whose vision was to create a society to celebrate and foster the development of South Asian cultural arts and youth artists in Adelaide, of which I am a Founding Member and current President. The organisation offered a number of opportunities for its members to participate in cultural nights, network, get involved in dance teams and created a link to the wider South Asian cultural arts-loving student community. Since its inception, the SAAS has gone from strength to strength, with the girls dance troupe ‘Adelaide Jazba’ performing at a number of events such as the Indian Mela, UniSA’s Masked Ball, several Diwali functions, to being placed within the top 15 contestants at the 2012 Indian Australian Dancing Star Competition. The group won first place in the group performance category at the Adelaide auditions for this event. The SAAS held its very first cultural night for the student community of all three universities in Adelaide, called ‘Nashaa’. Over 150 students arrived dressed in their Bollywood best to enjoy a night of Bollywood dances, music, prizes, yummy food and drink, and most importantly, fun before the stressful exam period began! The event was as intoxicating as its name, and ended a very successful year for SAAS. 2013 saw another great performance by SAAS’s co-ed dance performance team ‘Adelaide Agni’, at different events including the Mela and the Adelaide Tamil Association’s Diwali Night. The return of ‘Nashaa’ in September was welcomed by an increased number of students interested in the fantastic evening that followed.

As I complete the next two years and finish my leadership within the society along with my degree, I look forward to all the other dance performances and events in which we will be involved. I also welcome all current and new university students interested in our vision to join us in participating and enjoying our beautiful and colourful culture. Visit the SAAS fanpage on Facebook for more details.

Saylee Gaonkar


Volunteering works

Being a new migrant from India, my life at University has been exciting, as well as challenging. I finished my year 12 in India and came to Australia with my parents for my further studies. I was very excited and curious to experience and learn about this new world and culture. With some time before starting Uni, I got to know this new lifestyle through my job at a local retail store, which gave me good insights. I learnt that people here are very hospitable and accepting by nature. They are outgoing too, which inspired me to come out of my shell and has helped me make more friends at University. I am currently in my third year of Electronics at University of South Australia.

Life at University here is very independent, which came as a real shock. In the beginning I found it hard to adjust to the new ways of learning and organising my workload, but good friends helped and we got through difficult tasks together. Regular communication with my lecturers has been a great advantage as well, and after the first year I realised that, if you want to know and learn more, the University will always provide you with lots of resources.

I started participating in various extracurricular activities, it was hard not to, as they are so much fun! I have joined the student association at UniSA, and am in the loop with all the events that happen on campus.

Organising the South Australian Multicultural Debate  (SAMD) has been a very rewarding experience. Its vision is to improve student life by bringing international and domestic students together at Uni, as well as providing an opportunity for students to improve their networks across other universities in Adelaide. This event stages debates about prominent issues that have been both, a hindrance and a symbol of success to Australia’s multicultural society. I participated in this debating competition in my first year, and the following year, I was invited to be a part of the executive committee. Students have to plan and organise activities for the day of the event and work together throughout the year to make the event possible. My role over the two years was that of deputy convenor and a topic director, and I learned many valuable lessons while organising this event.

I also worked with Elabtronics, as a part of my work experience which was great; but more importantly, I got a chance to contribute to the community. I took part in establishing a society called ‘Robo Angels’ to encourage women to take up engineering. It is our goal to bring the simple technology of elabtronics to schools which allows students to gain an insight on how engineering enables them to be creative with technology. Our motive is to eradicate the influence of the stereotype that girls are good at reading, writing and comprehension, while boys excel in science and maths. We want to prove that, with hard work and an interest, anyone can be successful.

Through volunteering in various activities, I have met and worked with new people, and improved my interpersonal skills. It was a bit of a challenge to plan activities around Uni assignments, but it was worth it. After all, University is not about studies alone, but about bringing out and improving your life-skills. It is a precious opportunity to mould your personality and get ready for the real world out there.

Surya Kumar Gamini

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