University of Newcastle students embrace first day of formal classes

All smiles: Nena Lane-Kirwan and Adelaide Highfield completed the first day of their three year degrees on Monday. They said they were looking forward to making friends, having fun and learning. Picture: Simone De Peak
All smiles: Nena Lane-Kirwan and Adelaide Highfield completed the first day of their three year degrees on Monday. They said they were looking forward to making friends, having fun and learning. Picture: Simone De Peak

ADELAIDE Highfield had always imagined herself working in the fashion industry.

But after she scored a job at a fashion public relations agency – which she juggled with studying for a fashion and business diploma –  she had a change of heart.

“They weren’t saving lives but got stressed about the little things that I did not care about enough to make my whole life,” Ms Highfield, 19, said.

“I’d always been interested in midwifery but did not think I’d get the marks.

“When I realised I had got the marks I decided to enrol. I like the idea of helping people at a really special time and actually making a difference in the world.”

Ms Highfield is one of 11,310 students commencing study at the University of Newcastle (UON) this week.

The former Santa Sabina College student said she applied to UON because it offered midwifery as an undergraduate degree and she was told it was the country’s most respected program.

“I’d heard Newcastle was sociable and I wanted to be a part of that experience,” she said.

“It’s been exciting – I moved here two weeks ago and it’s been a new adventure in a new city and with new people. I usually find it hard to go up and start conversations but it’s been really easy, everyone is so social here.”

Nena Lane-Kirwan, 19, said her journey from Swansea High to UON for her environmental science and management degree was also not straight-forward.

She applied to study arts, changed to psychology and deferred to work for a year in a fencing company.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do before, but I think environmental science is going to be necessary for the future,” she said. “I enjoyed geography and biology at school so hopefully it’s the right choice.”

Ms Highfield had three lectures on Monday and has her three tutorials on Thursday.

She will spend 36 hours observing in a hospital this semester and 200 hours gaining practical experience in a hospital next semester.

“The first lecture was a bit intimidating, there were a lot of people who had already done uni before and the lecturer was talking like everyone already understood what was happening,” she said.

“It feels a lot more mature than at school – it’s a more grown-up environment.”

Ms Lane-Kirwan had two lectures on Monday and has a mix of lectures and tutorials every weekday but Friday.

“I was flustered because I could not get a park,” she said.

“For the first hour I was listening but for the second hour I was going in and out – coming back from a year off it’s hard to take it all back in.

“Before today I was pretty anxious but a friend showed me my classrooms last week during O-Week. It feels a bit daunting but is also very exciting.”