Elena Turunen, Alumna Fresher 2018, Reflects on her three years at Sancta
Home: Griffith, NSW
Degree: Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Education (Secondary: Humanities & Social Sciences)
Undergraduate resident at Sancta 2018-2020
Elena’s road to Sancta
I have always loved the idea of living and studying in Sydney so that part was easy but choosing where to live was a bit more challenging! I had heard of the colleges at The University of Sydney before as my mum is an alumna of The Women’s College and my aunty is an alumna of Sancta. I put applications forward to Sancta and another college, but I was set on Sancta after having my interview there. I got amazing vibes from Sancta. Best. Decision. Ever!
Best things about Sydney
I love the hustle and bustle of living in the city. You are only a hop, skip and a jump from being in the city or spending the day at the beach (potentially doing a Zoom lecture from the warm sands of Coogee beach – I am definitely not speaking from experience…), or even heading to a new area of Sydney to discover new foods and cultures!
Best things about Sancta
Sancta was a home away from home for me. The best thing about Sancta is the warm, friendly environment that the staff and older students create. Despite knowing no one, it took absolutely no time at all to immerse myself within the College, making friendships that I hold very dearly.
Standout memories of Sancta
My best memories of Sancta would be all the fun social events that I participated in and organised during my second and third years of college when I was a leader. The friendships that I made were unlike any other and I loved the convenience of door-hopping to go and visit friends. Enjoy it while you’re living at college!
How did you get involved in the community?
From the minute I began my three years at Sancta, I immersed myself in the social, cultural and sporting life within the College. In my first year, I represented the College in a variety of inter-collegiate events which helped me become a part of the Undergraduate House Committee in my second year, as the Social Justice Secretary, and ultimately the Honorary Secretary on the Undergraduate Executive team in my third year. Whilst holding these prestigious roles, I continued to show my commitment and love for the College by continuously attending and participating in all aspects of college life, especially the organisation of social events – who doesn’t love a good Quad party?
What was the hardest adjustment you had to make?
The hardest adjustment moving from the country to the city was being immersed in a new environment and not knowing anyone. Whilst I am quite an independent person, there were times where I missed home, especially my Italian mum’s cooking. Nevertheless, I put my fears behind me and got involved in as much as I could at college! It was very surprising to hear how many other girls were struggling to adjust to living in a new city too, so it was great to hear I wasn’t the only one!
Advice for future students choosing to live at Sancta
In the wise words of Shia LeBeouf, ‘JUST DO IT!’ Moving out and living at Sancta was the best decision I have ever made. College was an experience like no other and I cannot recommend a college more than Sancta. The safety I felt and the connections I made seemed to be so much more positive than some of my friends who lived at other colleges.
Moving forward from Sancta
This year, I have moved out of college with two fellow Sancta girls who I have been friends with since we were little freshers in 2018. I think it is safe to say that whilst we love the independence of living in a share-house, we miss college! I still pop my head into Sancta when I’m on campus every now and then, so it’s great to know that whilst I’m no longer a Sancta girl, I am always welcome to return.
In 2022, I plan on commencing casual high school teaching in Sydney alongside completing my final year of university – a five-year degree feels like forever.
Homesickness, culture shock and anxiety are common experiences for many students living on-campus. How did you manage this aspect of your experience?
I think it is important to build up a support system if you’re moving away from home for the first time, whether that be a friend, your RA (resident assistant), a counsellor or even a Sancta staff member! Sancta has an amazing pastoral support system, so I found that talking things out with someone helped me through.
If you could sum up Sancta in a few words, what would you say?
Best. Experience. Ever. I cannot recommend Sancta enough – it is the best place to live and to spend your university years.
Message to the Sancta community
Thank you to every person who made Sancta such an amazing place to live. My three years at Sancta were the best years of my life so far, and it was thanks to the Sancta staff and students, and of course my fellow 2020 Undergraduate House Committee Executive members – Georgia and Lucy.