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University of Newcastle welcomes thousands of first year students

Fresh faces: Portia Graham, Jake Rexter and Holly Blackham chose to stay in Newcastle for the affordability and lifestyle, while Harry Webster moved for the university’s reputation and the beach. Picture: Jonathan CarrollFOR Holly Blackham,the magnitude of her first day at university – and the start ofthe rest of her life – only hit over theweekend.

“I thought ‘Why did I do this?’,” Holly, 18,said.

“I was so nervous I thought ‘I should have waited a year’, I did not want to go. But once I got here today it was all goodand I’mfine now– it’s the start of meeting new people and starting a new chapter.”

Holly is one of thousands of students who have chosen to start their undergraduate degree at the University of Newcastle.

She is studying pharmacy to combine her interest in science and the body with a long-held desire to work in a medical setting.

Holly was joined in her “surprisingly fun” maths lecture by her friend from Bishop Tyrrell Anglican College Portia Graham, 17, who is studying environmental science and management.

“It wasgood but eye opening–I know I have to work hard and I’m open to that,” she said of the lecture.

Portia is already considering a masters degree in marine biology and combining further study with research.

“I’ve always been passionate about the environment,” she said.“The way we’re treating the planet we’re going to need some environmental scientists to figure out some issues.”

Portia’s joined a number of mostly sporting clubs includingscuba diving, tae kwon do, water polo, rugby and snow sports.

“Social life at university is what it’s all about,” she said.“School now feels like a long time ago. I was ready for a change and university is what I’ve wanted to do for a long time.”

Harry Webster, 19, moved from Dubbo into the university’s Evatt House –originally known as the ‘country kid’s college’ –to study architecture and plans to join the rugby team. “I’ve always liked design and being creative,” he said. “I’m pretty excited about starting and all the doors that are opening.

“I’d been to Newcastle a few times before with family and friends and found it to be a nice city with some pretty rural connections. It’s exciting that it’s diversifying what it’s known for.”

Jake Rexter, 18, is studying for a double degree in communication and law.

“I’ve always been interested in journalism, reading and writing and want to be a writer when I finish,” he said. “I enjoyed Legal Studies at school and while I don’t think I want to be a lawyer, I think it’s good for general education and really interesting.” He said his first lecture was “like eating sand it was so dry” but he was already feeling “more liberated”.

“It’s freedom –there’s so much more happening and the energy burns so much brighter than it did at school.

“I’m not going in with any expectations other than to have a good time and meet lots of new people.”

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