Hear from ASPIRE Student Rebecca Spilipoulos: “Nothing will ever compare to my first semester of Uni life!”

On the 8th of June I had my last exam for my first semester of University. It’s all over already! Bring on the holidays! But first things first: it’s time to do a quick reflection on the past semester I have had at La Trobe Law School. What a semester it has been. It’s been full of studying, pulling late nights at the La Trobe library and running late to classes because I came late and couldn’t find a car park. But it has also been full of making new friendships and meeting new people. La Trobe is a massive campus, and there are plenty of ways to make new friends!

If there is any advice I could give, it would be to not be shy during tutorials. When in a tutorial, try to participate as much as possible. This will not only allow your tutorial leader to get to know you better, but most of the time, it will actually lead to class discussions in which you can engage with other students. From those in-class discussions, the next time you have a tutorial, you may feel more comfortable to sit next to the person who you were talking to in that previous discussion. Then before you know it, a friendship may blossom!

Another amazing thing about La Trobe are the societies. Being Greek myself, I personally joined the Greek Society. This society holds many events throughout the year, e.g. boat cruises. In March this year I attended one of these boat cruises, and I can honestly say it was one of the most amazing nights I have ever had in my life. So if you’re someone who sometimes finds it difficult to start up a conversation with a random person in class, if you join societies in which usually the members all have one thing in common, e.g. being Greek, it may allow you to feel more comfortable to spark up conversations with different individuals at these events!

Another key way of making friends are all the La Trobe parties! I have been to two of these events already, and they were two of the most fun filled nights that I have ever had! You end up in big groups dancing and talking to heaps of different people of different ages who are doing all kinds of courses! So these parties are a really good opportunity to mingle with new people, while having a fun and relaxed night out with your friends!

One regret that I have this semester, would be not joining more sport teams. Through joining these teams, I’m sure it would have been a great way to build new friendships, but it would also have given me the opportunity to have something other than studying to grasp onto. For example, if I knew a competition was coming up, I would have to train for it and therefore have something sports-related to look forward to! Next year I know I will definitely be joining at least two of the sporting teams that La Trobe has on offer.

Now enough about reflecting on all the partying that went on during first semester! Time to talk about the serious stuff … like exams!¬†I am currently studying a double degree, consisting of Law and International Relations.

The two subjects I took for International Relations, Australian Politics and Sociology, had one major assignment each instead of an exam. I had to write an essay for both subjects. The essays themselves were not difficult to write, but very time-consuming as you spend a lot of time researching the topic in order to be able to complete the assignments successfully. Once the researching stage is complete, however, it is not so difficult to draw on all the information you have collected from this research and write everything up (easier said than done, I know!). Overall, I found that if you organise your time effectively and leave plenty of time in which to complete these major essays before the deadline, the process should be completed with minimal stress levels!

Now for the exams! For the Law side of my double degree, both of my subjects (Legal Institutions and Methods and Dispute Resolution) had final exams. I found that the best way to study for these exams was to print out all the lecture slides (and corresponding weekly material) and make notes, highlight, read and re-read the slides over and over again. This method does not work for everyone, but for me personally, memorising knowledge from re-reading the material works extremely effectively. For next semester, however, I plan on printing out the PowerPoint slides before each of the lectures and use them during the lecture to write notes. In my opinion, this will make things easier when it comes to exam revision at the end of the year, as the majority of your notes will be written and ready to go.

I must say, the lead up before the exams at university is very very different to the lead up to year 12 exams. It is completely your own responsibility to ensure you study as much as needed for the exam, as you don’t have any teachers checking up on you weeks in advance. You also have to work out yourself when and where your exam is. On the days of my exams, however, my stress levels as compared to when I had my year 12 exams, were significantly lower! I’m not sure entirely why this was the case, but perhaps it could be due to not having the additional pressure of receiving an ATAR score at the end of the exams. So overall, the exams were not that bad for first semester!

Nothing will ever compare to my first semester of Uni life. It’s different, challenging and does take a while to get used to, but once you get used to it, you feel comfortable and surprisingly at home. I’m now not a high school girl anymore, but a Uni girl. Bring on second semester! But first I will enjoy this month and a half of holidays!

Rebecca Spiliopoulos is currently studying Law and International Relations at La Trobe Law School.

La Trobe