Written by Emily Seeto, edited by Katerina Theocharous
The image of a small fish in a big pond has never rung truer. There’s something daunting about being a fresher with a six-year road ahead – a seemingly steeper climb than the trek from Anzac Parade to High Street.
And yet. There’s also something invigorating about the new faces we see each day, the fumbling at each question in anatomy pracs, the blur of different events and languages and backgrounds.
UNSW med students. Where do we come from? For a kid who’s lived in Sydney their whole life, we seem to come from far and wide, and that’s where we’ll go.
Just a nibble, I say, sliding the Fry’s Turkish Delight across the table. The taste of rosewater lingers on the roof of my mouth from a decade ago, when I banked on C.S. Lewis’ judgement and sought to know exactly why Edmund had sold his family for a piece of candy.
The box of Favourites (courtesy of our lovely coordinator) is the centrepiece of the white slabs passing for tables in our SG room. The Crunchies are long gone, courtesy of seasoned Australians with a childhood of honeycomb consumption. The Cherry Ripes, strangely enough, are donated to a brave soul in the upper years who happens to be passing by. Braver still are my peers who’ve travelled from around the globe just to be seated here, gagging on Turkish Delight but managing to swallow the entire bar out of pride.
“Lollies”, I learn, is a word with cause for hysterics. “Fairy bread” fares no better. The Buzzfeed videos never lie – I’d never known Aussie slang to bring people to tears.
The Tourist Traps
I’m a Sydney kid. I’m a slave to the 1hr-plus commute through rain, hail or shine; another set of eyes watching people run in suits and heels only to miss the train at Central station. And so there’s been one pressing question that grips me every time someone asks what it’s like to live in Sydney – how do you sell a city which only has (not so) nice weather, a bridge, and a pointy white building going for it?
Since starting at uni, it’s made a bit more sense. There’s a certain beauty, I’ve found, in the hustle and bustle of Sydney through whatever lens you look. It’s there in every Acknowledgement of Country, in the languages I hear each day, in the sushi and laksa and cheese toasties at Matthews. Whether you’re passing over the Harbour Bridge without a second glance or seeing the Opera House for the first time, there’s something at the core that screams “Aussie” to every passer-by.
The Smart, the Young
Picture this. You’re sitting on one of those too-large plush seats in lower Wallis Wurth, laptop open. Your thumb hurts from spamming the space bar as Anki cards blur together and the guy walking in from the bathroom can probably see your brain slipping out one ear to splat pathetically on your off-white sneakers.
But bathroom guy? He’s the anatomy whiz who spits out answers rapid-fire in every lab, who replies to everyone’s queries on Teams before Gary Velan can make the next pun. And your phone that’s buzzing incessantly- that’s your 3rd-year mentor, who’s slaved away at BGDA embryology and would do it again to keep your head above the water.
So, where will we go?
The average UNSW med student, it seems, partakes in 25 hour days, 8 days a week. The Medicine Facebook pages are almost too full of Medsoc adverts and certificate-coercions, and it seems all too easy to just click ‘interested’ without a second glance at the calendar. Can you sing? Do Medshow. Can’t sing? Do Medshow anyways. One day you’ll find yourself hopping from stall to stall during Cultural Week before rushing to the Crit Care event in the evening – you do one thing, then another, and another still. The events and the people and the memories never cease to return anew.
So let’s go. Drowners, train-hoppers, anatomy buffs and lecture-speedrunners alike – it’s been only a term for me here, and I’ve never been more excited to be part of such an eclectic bunch of people who so often seem to know everything, yet nothing at all.