How I got the most out of my UNSW degree

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Wondering what it's like to be a university student? Meet sixth-year Bachelor of Music/Science student Alice Hu as she reflects on her journey from high school to university and all the unexpected experiences that were awaiting her at UNSW.

I got more out of studying at UNSW than I ever could’ve hoped for.

It’s hard to recall what my expectations of UNSW were in year 12. Thirteen years of schooling had suddenly felt like it flew by, and I was leaving the high school bubble for a university with fifty times the amount of people. I wanted to make friends, try new things, and hopefully come out of it all with a job! Now, as I near the end of my six-year-long double degree, I can safely say that I got more out of studying at UNSW than I ever could’ve hoped for.

Alice Hu finishing high school
Tell me you’ve finished the HSC, without actually telling me you’ve finished the HSC.

What drew me to UNSW was its reputation as a globally-focused university with a vibrant and inclusive social life. I embarked on my student journey in a Music/Advanced Science degree, knowing that I wanted to make the most of my time. You would be right to describe first-year Alice as a “keen bean”, but this didn’t come without a good dose of self-doubt. I had joined the campus wind band straight away and signed up for a music course to study Indonesian Gamelan in Bali. Through activities like these, I met some incredibly inspiring and talented students.

Alice Hu
Left: Shenanigans on Bali Music Field Trip (Winter 2016). Right: Playing glockenspiel at my first UNSW Wind Symphony Concert.

I remember looking up to my older peers and thinking I could never do what they could. However, with some encouragement from UNSW students and staff, I took on roles that helped me develop my skills and confidence. For example, I took advantage of UNSW Music Ensembles (open to all students) and International Exchange to build my versatility as a performer. Even though performing was not my major, it was an important creative outlet for me and helped me feel connected to the UNSW community. I even had the pleasure to perform a (solo) concerto with the UNSW Orchestra – what a highlight!

Alice Hu playing musical instruments
Left: Playing a Concerto on Vibraphone with the UNSW Orchestra, 2019. Right: Playing with Samba Vencedores on exchange at the University of Michigan, 2018.

Volunteering at UNSW has also been an extremely rewarding experience for me. Whether it was being a Faculty Peer Mentor or Thoughtful foods shop volunteer, it was a way to explore my passions and contribute to student life at UNSW. I discovered a love for helping young people through UNSW Arc Volunteering programs and went on to work as Student Coordinator of Phil’ (Philanthropy). These roles helped build a suite of transferrable skills and made me realise the power of being a student. Because of this, I applied and was awarded a New Colombo Plan Scholarship to study, intern and undergo language training in Singapore.

Alice Hu
Left: At Parliament House for New Colombo Plan Award Ceremony. Right: Running a Phil' 24-hour Fun-a-thon activity in 2019.

In Year 12, I didn’t expect to have all of these out-of-the-classroom experiences but they make me who I am today. I actively sought out things that would challenge me and, in those imposter-syndrome moments, I tried to remember that I was there to learn and grow. Two international exchanges and a few degree alterations later, I’m still throwing my hat in the ring for new opportunities at UNSW. If I could give my 17-year-old self some advice, it would be: You don’t have to have it all figured out - university is the perfect time to explore and find your own journey to success!

Alice Hu


Alice Hu

Sixth-year student, Bachelor of Music (Honours)/Science

Previously: St George Girls High School


Alice's uni bucket list:

  • Go to a university camp (many student societies run them!)
  • Have a go at entrepreneurship with the Founders New Wave Program 

  • Go canyoning and rock climbing with UNSW Outdoors Club 
  • Compete in a Hackathon 

  • Try various sports with Arc: Lacrosse, Squash and even Latin Dance! 
  • Become a UNSW club exec

  • Make the most of UNSW Careers services: search for jobs, be matched with a mentor, gain employable skills! 

  • Do a maccas 'run' down to Coogee beach in your uni break