FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Family and friends are important for everyone in life, no matter who you are and/or what you do. They are especially important when you are at uni, especially if you are in a similar situation to me: five hours away from my own family with only one other family member in town, who has his own family to deal with. It’s not easy having my loved ones so far away from me, but that comes with the choice I made.
My family wasn’t surprised by my choice to study creative writing and journalism and they weren’t surprised by my choice to study at UOW. In 2008, I visited UOW with my high school on the year 12 Discovery Days and fell in love. Nevertheless they knew I was making a huge life change and they wanted me to be prepared, which I wasn’t, but they were very supportive and still are.
Every year without fail, I move into my accommodation around my father’s birthday. In my first year, I moved into Campus East on February 20th 2010—two days before my father’s 48th birthday. My father seemed to cope very well and even made fun of me for having so much stuff for such a small room, but I found out from my mother a few months later in the mid-year recess that my father was actually quite teary on his birthday because I wasn’t there to celebrate with him. Although he doesn’t like to show it, he still gets upset every year when I move back to Wollongong when the summer break ends in late February. This year’s birthday was the first one since being at uni that I was home for, which made him very happy.
I know my father worries about me: he called several times when I had surgery in April last year and he was extremely worried about me moving back to Marketview and being on my own this year after having foot surgery three weeks earlier. When I’m not under the knife, which is more common, my father doesn’t say much to me over the phone when my parents call because I tell mum everything and she tells dad anyway, so there’s no need to repeat my story. Recently he told me that he was confident in my ability to pay my rent if I stay at Marketview over summer and said he was proud of me and how far I’ve come. He also said “it (me moving to Wollongong in my first year) was tough and there were a few tears and lots of phone calls when you first moved up, and that was just me, let alone you and mum.” Bless him.
My mother, like my father worries about me constantly, however unlike him, she does show it. She texts me all the time and worries when I don’t reply straight away and we talk for half-an-hour minimum on the phone. She also made sure that I had more stuff than necessary when I moved into Campus East in my first year and always asks me over and over if I’ve packed everything. Whenever we finish talking on the phone, she gives me a big kiss, “MWAH!” and I give her one back. Last year, she looked after me before and after having surgery and this included going on a shopping spree and buying me better towels and groceries.
My brother I think is secretly happy that I can’t tease him face-to-face anymore, although that doesn’t stop me every time I go home. We talk at least once a week and I always give him grief when I have to remind him to call. He tells me that I can call, but I remind him that I’m a “poor uni student” and he laughs and tells me “aww, cry me a river!” Nevertheless, I know he misses me and I miss him all the time.
Because my family is five hours away, I have to make do with my second family—my friends and classmates. I highly recommend that every other student whose family is three hours or more away from them, do the same. My best friends or posse’ at uni consist of Alice, Luci, Sean, Claire, Susie, Carrie, Zak and Liz. My posse’ has changed, contracted and expanded, mostly all at the same time over the four years I have been at UOW, nevertheless I wouldn’t change them for anything. They have made my uni life easier, more enjoyable and have been there for me in good and bad times.
My second family also includes my classmates, in particular my creative writing classmates as we all went through the degree together. We have all supported each other professionally with our writing by giving each other feedback and congratulating each other on success with submissions and publications. And we all attended the launch of Tide—the university’s literary magazine compiled by the third year editing students, which is a good end to the degree. We have also supported each other on personal levels in many different ways. One of the guys in my class, Harrison came out not long into the degree, but that didn’t change or alter our love for him. From what I’ve heard, Donna and Nicole emailed him in support when he did. I view Donna and Nicole as well as Audra as “second mums” not because they are older than us, but because they are mums and have always looked out for us. Ever since we finished the degree a year ago, things haven’t been the same, at least not for me. I love my journalism classmates, but due to the way I’ve been completing my subjects, the bond isn’t quite the same.
The university does become your home for three years or sometimes four, or like me, even five years, so your friends and classmates become your family. I know it’s scary on your very first day, but embrace them. Family and friends are one of the most important parts not only of university life, but life overall. Don’t take them for granted.
I love you all and I’m sorry if I’ve forgotten anyone.
This column originally appeared on Tertangala and can be found here.