The First Year Experience

Calista Kusuma is a second year Commerce International Student who is the Director of Marketing and Digital communications in the Commerce International Society

Interviewed and edited by William Cao

How was your overall first year experience?

I had a great first year! I came into university really introverted, and I feel like I had stuck myself into a ‘box’. I really loved first year despite its ups and downs and miss not having to worry about things like my career. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone enabled me to really come out of my shell and discover new things about myself. I think that opportunities such as joining societies or simply trying to make new friends in each class allowed me to have a lot of fun and make close friends! I’ve grown so much, both personally and academically, and am so glad I chose UNSW as my university



How were first year commerce subjects, any tips or advice?

My top tip is to pick what you like. To be completely honest, I struggled in first semester. When I chose my subjects, I went with what was popular rather than what I liked, which resulted in my doing certain subjects which weren’t my strong suit. This saw me lose my academic confidence and not get the grades I wanted. My grades and interest changed dramatically in second semester, where I chose subjects like marketing and information systems which I enjoyed and did well in- and they’re now my majors.

I would also say be sure to manage your time really well. Create a weekly timetable which has all your classes, extracurriculars, work and social outings on it- and designate study and rest time where you can! I like setting timers when I study (e.g. 1 hour for 1 subject) to compartmentalise my tasks and prevent me from procrastinating- it’s not about how much time you spend studying, it’s about how effectively you study in the time you have.

Exchange focused:

How did you find the exchange application?

The pre-nomination stages of Endeavour are really relaxed, so I mostly focused on choosing my preferences. I wrote a list of factors (location was my main factor!- how close to the CBD and facilities is the uni?) and narrowed my countries from there. I would then read student reviews which are on Moodle, and watch people’s exchange vlogs on YouTube so that I could really immerse and visualise myself being there. I decided on Nottingham, Ningbo, because of its unique position as a British ‘lexicon’ within a Chinese city, and my desire to learn Mandarin


Degree focused

What new opportunities did the commerce international degree give you?

Many! I chose the degree because of the integration of a global perspective into a business education and it really delivered! Firstly, there’s many unique opportunities for the degree such as exchange and the Alumni Leaders Mentoring Program which I am currently doing in my second year. I also really enjoyed doing international studies subjects- I got to learn Chinese and I love it! Employers have also been really interested in the degree and I’ve received some international opportunities because of it, such as freelance writing for two startups in Singapore and Barcelona which is something I never thought I would do!

How was the Com(Int)Soc experience?

The society was one of the highlights of my first year. It was the first society I got accepted to, and I still remember the moment that I read my subcommittee acceptance email and being overjoyed. I feel like the society has done really well at bonding our small cohort through various events, and I’ve always really liked being part of our tight-knit executive team. I started off as Shadow Director for Digital Communications, where I was able to learn new skills like WordPress, editing and writing. I then received the opportunity to be a First Year Representative, which saw me run the cohort Facebook group and make new initiatives with my co-representative, Sharon Li, who has become one of my closest friends today.

I highly recommend that all first years get involved in at least one society- whether it be as a subcommittee or even just attending events! Being a part of Com(Int)Soc and Capital W during my first year really enabled me to meet new friends, grow professionally and personally, and were the most enjoyable parts of my university experience. Yes, societies may take up a substantial portion of your time (depends on the society and position you are within it), but they are so extremely worth it- university is the last chance you have to join extracurriculars so get involved now! I’ve grown to love being active in the university community- I’m now a Director in both societies, and recently joined the BusinessOne marketing subcommittee which I love already.


To get involved in Com(Int)Soc, apply for our First Year Representative applications now!!!

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