How living at Trinity College transformed a Caulfield Grammar alum’s University of Melbourne experience.
When Harriet Grummet started her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Melbourne in 2020, living at Trinity College was not part of her plan.
‘Then Covid changed everything,’ she explains. ‘I was living at home and basically had three weeks of going to lectures on campus before everything shut down. University was virtual for the rest of the year. You can’t make new friends on Zoom.’
‘I knew about Trinity because Dad went there and raved about the experience,’ she says of her decision to move into college this year. ‘A family friend and another girl from Caulfield Grammar had also gone there and they both loved it.’
‘I absolutely love the sense of community here. Everyone’s so friendly. It’s weird if someone doesn’t say hi when you pass them in the corridor. I totally lacked that last year.’
Harriet has stayed in touch with friends from Caulfield Grammar who are at university, but not living in college, and she sees how different their experience is. ‘You’re pretty isolated, just wandering around [the uni] campus and going to massive lectures with so many people.’ (And, of course, attending university online can amplify these feelings of isolation.)
At Caulfield Grammar, Harriet enjoyed both English and biology, so was tossing up between studying arts and biomedicine.
‘I decided to keep my options open, which is why I chose arts and I’m very happy I did. But,’ she adds, ‘with the arts degree, there’s not one other person doing the same subjects as I am. You may only see someone one hour a week during one class, so it’s difficult to form relationships.’
In addition to university tutorials, Harriet also appreciates the professional tutors that Trinity offers students as well as the mentoring opportunities provided by Trinity alumni. In fact, her dad was recently on a panel about careers in science research and medicine at one of Trinity’s regular fireside chats. ‘People were telling me for days afterwards about how great it was to hear his insider perspective.’
Study is only part of the Trinity experience. ‘There are lots of ways to get involved in the Trinity community and heaps of leadership opportunities, even for first-year students,’ says Harriet.
‘I love singing and was involved in a few choirs at Caulfield, like CC-Vox, the self-led girls’ a cappella group,’ she explains. ‘In my second week here [at college], I auditioned for the Candystripes, which is Trinity’s self-led female a cappella choir. It was pretty scary to sing in front of them with no backing but everyone was really lovely and supportive. I was thrilled to get into the group.’
‘We performed with the Tiger Tones [Trinity’s male a cappella group] at a recent outreach dinner where students put forward items to be auctioned. All the proceeds went to the 300 Blankets charity,’ she says, highlighting how community service is interwoven into many of Trinity’s social activities.
‘There are events every week. My favourite one so far was a bingo boogie night organised by the Gender and Sexuality Alliance,’ says Harriet. ‘I also really like the formal dinners where we wear our academic gowns and mix with students from across the college.’
Intercollegiate sports are another fun way to get involved. ‘I played tennis for Caulfield and I’m playing in the mixed doubles for Trinity,’ says Harriet. ‘Everyone is so encouraging. You don’t have to be a superstar. And you can always come down and support the players, wear the Trinity stripes and join in the cheers.’
‘All in all, being part of this community has made a massive difference to my university experience. I’m meeting new people, singing again, and feel much more connection. Caulfield was quite a big school but it was still a bubble. Trinity feels like a bigger bubble with a strong support network. It’s like a stepping stone to the real world.’
By Susan Gough Henly