JOINING clubs at university is not only a great way to make new friends when you first arrive but is a fantastic way to find new experiences in life too. Deborah Goh draws on her personal experience hiking and exploring the gorgeous natural landscapes of Victoria with Melbourne University’s Mountaineering Club.
Sport has an amazing ability to bring total strangers together, as 99% of the time you are bound to form solid friendships with people who you shed blood, sweat and tears with on a regular basis. So naturally for me, wanting to join a sports club was something I needed to get off my check list of things to do when I first arrived in Melbourne.
Since I knew that sports clubs were some of the best outlets to meet new people (with the added bonus of having fun and getting fit at the same time), I made sure to attend the Sports Club Expo held by the University of Melbourne’s student union during orientation week upon arriving here for my first semester.
During the expo, Melbourne University’s Mountaineering Club (MUMC) stood out to me as they offered a whole range of sporting activities that I would rarely be able to participate in back home, along with the promise of long-lasting friendships with fellow club members! I was sold immediately and signed up for a year-long membership with the club on the spot.
Signing up proved to be one of the best decisions that I made throughout my university life. The club runs trips for its members practically every weekend and within a short span of time, I had tried my hand at outdoor climbing, kayaked down a river, participated in rogaining (a cross country navigation activity that involves teams of 2 – 5 people) and went on several hikes through the Victorian bushlands.
Bushwalking was my favourite out of all the activities – the hike up Mt Bogong, Victoria’s highest mountain, was among one of the many highlights from my time with the club. To date, I still have fond memories of our group trudging up to the summit with our heavy packs while braving the cold, rain and wind before being completely awestruck by the stunning views at the top.
Journeying along sections of the Great Ocean Walk for four days was another highlight of my MUMC experience. Prior to this hiking trip, I had only ever visited the Great Ocean Road on a guided tour which mainly involved our guide rushing us from one attraction to another.
Hence why it was an absolute treat not having to jostle with bus loads of tourists and being able to take in all the picturesque views at our own pace. Being treated to breathtaking sights that were only accessible to those on foot was also tremendously rewarding.
When we were not on the move, we were taking “groupies” at scenic spots with a selfie stick, frolicking on deserted beaches that we had all to ourselves, playing card games or cooking up fancy meals with fresh produce (someone made himself bacon and eggs!) that we had lugged along. On one of the nights, we even managed to catch a glimpse of the lunar eclipse from our campsite! Everyone simply had a ball of a time on this trip.
All in all, I have had truly extraordinary experiences on all the trips that I have gone on with MUMC which I think can be attributed both to the effort the club’s leaders put into the meticulous planning of said trips as well as the club members who were great company.
Despite coming from such diverse backgrounds, all the people who I have met through the club have been warm, welcoming, generous and ready to help and that’s really what makes MUMC such a great club to be in.
Hopefully my personal experience with MUMC inspires others students to join similar clubs at their universities. It’s amazing to think that a student-run club like this is able to provide amazing outdoor adventures in the wilderness like this and I can’t imagine a better way for international students to explore and understand Australia than by joining such clubs as MUMC.
For more information about the club and how it is run, stay tuned for part two of my MUMC experience where I sit down for an exclusive interview with Olivia Grover Johnson, committee member of MUMC. All other information about MUMC can be found at their official site.