Welcome to UWA! This is Western Australia’s most elite university, as signified by the limestone buildings and rectangular ponds – and you’re finally here. You’ve picked up a copy of Pelican, already proving yourself to be someone of merit. To stay on track for the next three (to ten) years, heed this unsolicited advice.


You can view uni as a somewhat less restrictive extension of high school. A comfortable, oddly lawn-centric place, where you can hang out with the same people you’ve swapped saliva and sandwiches with for the past twelve years of upon unspoken mutual resentment. Alternatively, you can get a life. This is the option that Pelican wholeheartedly recommends.

Throw caution to the wind, throw your school uniform out the window, and start throwing mild to wild parties with people you’ve never met and with whom, perhaps out of fear or lack of appropriate footwear, you would never usually socialize. It’s time to begin lying about your alma mater (swap St Hilda’s for Applecross), it’s time for a dramatic image makeover (try a haircut and some hip new glasses), and it’s time to stop talking about exam results and leavers (unless you got a really high ATAR, that is – people generally love hearing about that, and you will be a big hit at the Arts Union Sundowner).


Already, you’re frowning. Those school pals provide a warm safe comfort zone of shared experiences. These are the people who dangled shining bags of cask wine over your head on the beaches of Dunsborough, and that means something, surely.

If you take this attitude, you’re probably quite dull, and there may be no helping you. However if you are keen to network with the Future MBAs Of The Golden Triangle, or to develop a painful crush that extends from your first week of uni to a lonely night in third year where your crushee is drunk and lonely and pityingly reciprocal, or to find someone who takes great lecture notes and will send them to you in neat PDF format on the first day of study week, try this fail safe friend-making technique:

Approach someone (preferably someone standing in a corner by themselves, whose high school clearly didn’t produce enough high achieving students  – they are vulnerable and open to new friendship experiences) and tell them about how you wish you had gone to Curtin instead. They will no doubt share this sentiment, and a long conversation about broadening units and incompetent lecturers and peacocks as a symbol of class privilege will inevitably follow. Remember that shared discontent is a fail-safe bonding technique, and you’ll soon have a bunch of jaded mates for life.


UWA is really into Clubs And Societies. Whether they be faculty societies (Science Union), morally ambiguous party clubs (Leisure), or groups catering to a specific nerdy niche (University Dramatic Society), joining up with one is theoretically a great way to make ‘like-minded friends’. Be wary, though, that it is also a great way to meet literally the worst people ever.

Note that all clubs and societies, and indeed the student guild itself, have some kind of governmental structure. Most of them operate in a super cliquey and competitive way, with ambitions running inexplicably high. If you’re just joining any arbitrary club in a desperate effort to meet people, it might be worth instead considering the less fraught option of bravely striking up conversation with fellow students (preferably ones with nice hair) in your tutes and lectures, and inviting them to continue the discussion over coffee afterwards. This way, you won’t have to choose sides during someone’s desperate race to become Vice President of the Electronic Music Appreciation Society, or join a confusingly aligned student political party, or debate the tenets of atheism. Note also that the student guild/fun police have cracked down significantly on all drinking events in recent years, and that student clubs are now more renowned for money laundering than they are for keggers.


It usually takes about two years for this to sink in, so here’s a head start: classes are a whole lot more fulfilling when you prepare for them. Woah, woah, hoooold up. Bet you didn’t think that you were reading an article written by a big fat nerd loser, eh? Bet you thought that student media was all about shenanigans and sticking it to the Vice Chancellor. While Pelican does consider itself a ‘lighthearted, irreverent student magazine’, it nonetheless advises that you balance your quest to lose your virginity by second semester with some gentle but regular hours of light study.

There are some piss-poor lecturers lurking around UWA, but in a sea of uninspiring course outlines that haven’t changed since 1988 there are a few rare tropical fish – those written by young and hungry academics who still maintain some vestige of the passion they once had for their PhD subject. Seek them out, and pay attention to them. While it’s classic masochistic fun to test the limits of just how little work one can do to pass a unit, and fairly laughable how little reading and attendance seem to matter when it comes to that final grade, you’re going to enjoy your time at uni 200% more if you do the readings and watch (in person, even) the lectures. Also, degrees are getting pretty expensive, nowadays. May as well get some bang for ya buck.


The Tav provides a warm dark drinking hole for those lucky enough to have an early 18th birthday, but there are many places in and around campus to imbibe a sneaky lemonade. The so-called ‘Goonzebo’, home to many a fresher event (these are as awful as they are essential) is a classic. It is situated by the picturesque Matilda Bay foreshore, but you will no doubt be distracted by other scenery in the form of that girl from your Communications tutorial with forthright opinions about Ariana Grande. You can expect the seagulls and sand to become blurry (with feelings of both tipsiness and inadequacy) within a short amount of time. The sunken garden is another fan favourite, and it would be a crime to graduate from this university without at some point having sat contemplatively by the reflection pond late at night, bevvy in hand. Attending classes while inebriated can be considered a rite of passage, but realise that it is actually really obvious to everyone involved when one member of the tute is hammered. If you’re hesitant to talk in a tutorial, though, a cup of courage could help.


Officially, napping is not only frowned upon but actively outlawed at UWA, as rest is not in keeping with an ‘aim higher’ mentality. Unofficially, students have been kipping on campus since the late 1920s. There may come an hour when you have missed the last bus due to frantic last minute assignment writing. There may be an evening when an end of semester party leaves you incapable of procuring transport or driving yourself home. Or there may be an afternoon where you have an inconvenient gap between classes that could be strategically filled with a light snooze. In any event, don’t bother trying your luck in any regularly patrolled areas. The arts common room may host some tempting couches, but it also forms part of the hourly campus security guard circuit during night time. If you need to sleep, you’re going to have to find a dusty and forgotten club room, or 24 hour study lab. Look to those places on campus that haven’t been renovated since 1972 (not hard), and go from there.


UWA implores its students to ‘seek wisdom’, and while on your vision quest to attain knowledge you might like to start with a campus cobbler as your spirit guide. Yes, guild village is home to a dedicated shoe repairsman, who apparently prevails against all odds to succeed in making his long-forgotten craft a viable business. Shoe Repair Guy harks back to a time where craftsmanship preceded Etsy stores and scrapbooking clubs, and his career success story is perhaps the only one you will encounter on this campus.


If only when it comes to bathrooms, UWA provides its customers (sorry, students) with some real state of the art facilities. Whether you need somewhere to defecate, urinate, covertly cry silent stress-induced tears, or write the URL of your blog on a wall, you’re never far away from a clean and well appointed toilet stall.

If you need to perform a sneaky outfit check, try the undercroft toilet – you’ll pass it as you walk from the underpass towards Reid library. It has a deluxe full length mirror, and along with the mythical Sex Shower, it is one of this university’s best kept bathroom secrets.

If you’re after a VIP toilet experience with vintage retro furnishings, try Winthrop Hall – think huge mirrors, antique door handles, wood paneling. The kind of setting where you can crank out a really expensive looking, Group of Eight-worthy number two.

The Reid library staircases lead to some truly questionable toilets. Their colour scheme is universally a deep seaweed green, an immediate warning sign that these facilities should be considered a last resort. Meanwhile, the science library’s shiny new stalls provide an overall pleasant and dry wrench free experience.


A dry wrench free experience is perhaps the most you can hope for, dear fresher, as you embark on your tertiary education journey. Pelican wishes you well, and implores anybody who got all the way through this article to come by the office and collect your prize.


Words by Kat Gillespie

By Pelican Magazine

Pelican is the second-oldest student publication in Australia and the only independent paper at UWA. If you like having opinions, writing, drawing, and/or free tickets to local events, then Pelican is the place for you! We print six themed issues a year, and run a stream of online content.

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