Moving to a new city, state or country to study can be an exciting experience, but it can also be a daunting one. Far from home and your traditional support systems, it can feel lonely.
And if you live in a self-contained apartment with easy access to online grocery shopping and meal deliveries, it can be easy to become reclusive.
The University of Tasmania has a new program aimed specifically at students living in University accommodation, providing fun regular opportunities to get out, get active, have fun, and make friends along the way.
The HYPE Health and Wellbeing Program has been developed by Student Living, the UniGym, and Sport teams, creating a roster of fun social activities, which are already proving to be a big hit among students.
Activities include ten pin bowling, bouldering (rock-climbing), sailing, paintballing, even a snow trip to Ben Lomond, and an average of 36 students have attended each one.
University of Tasmania Sport operations Manager Anthony Jusup said the program was trialled in early 2021 after a “vacuum” was identified in terms of physical and mental wellness activities for students in University accommodation.
“Last year, in semester one, it was run with more general fitness things, like yoga, bootcamp and so on, but we realised they already had access to those things,” he said. “So for this year we revamped it, rebranded it and asked students what kinds of activities they would actually like to be able to do.
“For international students in particular, and just those who don’t know many people, you wouldn’t normally get too many opportunities to get 30 people together for paintball or to go sailing.
“It’s a way for people to get out and get moving in a way that doesn’t just look like a workout, especially during the winter. And it also helps to build a sense of community, you can try something new and meet people.”
Students from 29 different nationalities have taken part in the activities so far, and there are almost as many domestic students involved as international, reflecting the demographics of those living in University residences.
And as the activities are heavily subsidised, the cost to students is negligible, making it even easier to be involved – the recent Ben Lomond trip only cost students $40 in total, including transport from Hobart, food and accommodation.
Yuxin Wang came from China to study her PhD in Marine Science at IMAS in Hobart and even After living here for four years, she is still discovering new experiences and making new friends through HYPE.
“Tassie is really beautiful, I love it here, it’s such a good place for camping, hiking, especially for those who haven’t experienced this before,” she said.
“I have made many friends through activities organised by the University and Student Living. Most of them are free and they give me opportunities to step out of comfort zone, meet more people, go to more spots I’ve never experienced.”
Anthony said there was a deliberate focus on place-based experiences wherever possible, to make the most of Tasmania’s unique attributes, and competitive events like paintball or laser tag would incorporate the University’s Communities system to encourage a sense of teamwork and belonging.
“Some students have never seen snow in their lives, some have never been swimming before, and we have amazing opportunities to introduce them to those experiences, and there are huge mental health benefits to socialising and getting active as well,” he said.