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O-Week: Clubs and Societies Expo 2012

Marcella Purnama

Fri Feb 24 2012

Anime Club, Melbourne University O-Week

MELBOURNE University’s Parkville campus was a hub of activity as students turned out in droves to explore the annual Clubs and Societies Expo. Meld reporter Marcella Purnama brings you the highlights.

Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Students turn up in droves to explore the Clubs and Societies Expo at Melbourne University. Photo: Wan Shing Lang

FREE donuts, balloons, discount vouchers, goodie bags, chocolates, cupcakes and cokes – everything and anything under the sun literally – are on offer as clubs and societies from Melbourne University spruik their memberships to students in a two-day expo, which ends today.

The expo is one of the multicultural highlights of O-Week, especially for new students who are eager to plug into uni life, pursue their extra-curricular interests, or connect with people from their home countries.

When Meld Magazine visited yesterday, a myriad of clubs and societies were dispersed all over university, from Union House and all the way to the South Lawn.

At its peak, there would have been a flurry of some 300 students signing up to the clubs of their choice outside Wilson Hall, and another 500 squeezed inside the venue.

By midday, first year Arts student from Malaysia Yin Jen Lai had already signed up to nine different clubs. On his list were the Malaysians of Melbourne University (MoMU), the Media and Communications Student Society (MaCSS), Fotoholics, the Engineering Music Society (EMS), Badminton Club, Tennis Club and the Pool Club.

Yin Jen Lai , Melbourne University O-Week

First year Arts student from Malaysia Yin Jen Lai (left) with Meld reporter Marcella Purnama. Zed signed up to nine clubs at the Clubs and Societies Expo. Photo: Wan Shing Lang

“First year is a great time to join as many clubs as possible. You have more free time compared to second or third year students. I am really excited and looking forward to studying here,” Zed said.

Club committees were also doing their best to attract new members, wooing them with discounted early memberships and free gifts.

Yenn Yinn Lim, the secretary of Fotoholics, said they have more than 300 new members sign up every year. The photography group holds a variety of events for its members throughout the year, including photoshoots, camps, and day trips.

Fotoholics president Stephanie Harris hands out flyers to new members. Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Fotoholics president Stephanie Harris hands out flyers to new members. Photo: Wan Shing Lang

There was also a sizeable group of students gathered in front of the Malaysians of Melbourne University (MoMU) booth. Publicity director Elaine Teoh said the club attracted more than 300 members last year, and 200 students have signed up so far at the expo.

“This year we will be hosting a Welcome BBQ event, the Annual Ball, and a Great Ocean Road trip, among others,” Elaine said.

But the club isn’t exclusively for Malaysians, she said.

“There are many Chinese, Vietnamese, Singaporeans, and Koreans as well. People are interested to study more about our culture, especially the food.”

Planted next to MoMU was the Korean Students Society. Likewise, not all of its members are Korean.

Committee member Scarlet Kim said students like to attend their Korean language classes, which they offer to non-native speakers at various levels of competency.

The club had some 220 people join last year, and they are expecting more new members this year.

Korean Students Society, Melbourne University O-Week

The Korean Students Society were all smiles at the Clubs and Societies Expo. Pictured right, Scarlet Kim with the other committee members. Photo: Wan Shing Lang

For other students, life on campus involves finding a faith community to connect with.

Near the doors of Wilson Hall were second-year commerce students from Singapore Jeremy Sia and Kang Dipeng, who were actively inviting new international students to join the Melbourne University Overseas Christian Fellowship (MUOCF).

“We want to be a support group for these newcomers, so they feel like they have a family here in Melbourne,” Jeremy said.

Other clubs like Fresh Life First are centred around health and wellbeing, and run events such as ultimate frisbee, marathons, hiking, and kayaking.

Club president, Master of Engineering student Pavneet Sinam, who is also a personal trainer, said he was passionate about promoting a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and exercise.

Melbourne University’s Badminton Club had a novel way of drawing attention – students scored a small prize if they could direct the shuttlecock into a bin using their back-hand.

Anyu Quah, a first-year Commerce student from Singapore said that she had already joined the Singapore Students’ Society (SSS), and  was planning to apply to more clubs.

“The O-week has been quite busy. I have been to some talks, attended welcome lunch, went to the expo, and met some friends,” she said.

Anime Club, Melbourne University O-Week

The Anime Club drew plenty of attention from their striking outfits at the Clubs and Societies Expo. Photo: Wan Shing Lang

There has also been a growing interest in the Anime Club.

“Many local students join us because they don’t know much about anime. We have anime screening every day of the week at lunchtime,” committee member Karen Li, a final-year Science student at Melbourne University, said.

But students signing up to clubs weren’t all first year students.

Final-year Science student Esther Wong said she was signing up to the Chinese Music Group and Melbourne University Dancesport Class (MUDC) this year.

“I have watched Mulan performance by the Chinese Music Group last year and it was really good, and I wanted to be a part of it. I am also interested in joining because I want to get involved in Melbourne University and to get to know more people, have more friends,” she said.

With so much going on both on and off campus, students should hopefully be on to a good start this semester.