Isabella Nolan, Alumna Fresher 2018, Reflects on Her Sancta Journey
Home: Singleton, NSW
Degree: Bachelor of Arts/Education (Humanities and Social Sciences Stream)
Undergraduate resident at Sancta 2018-2020
Isabella’s road to Sancta
Having grown up in a small town, I wanted to move away and experience the vibrant and rich life that Sydney had to offer. I was excited about the academic and artistic experiences Sydney had to offer and was hopeful to build some new relationships along the way.
Before coming to Sancta, I had no idea what college was, or what it would be like to move out of home. A family friend was a resident of Sancta and recommended it to me. I remember walking through the foyer doors on the day of my interview and immediately feeling at home.
Best things about Sydney
There is SO much to love about Sydney! Not only is every harbour, beach, theatre, and social venue at my fingertips, but there is something very exciting about the anonymity of living in such a big city. It makes you feel free to explore, discover and create the version of yourself that you want to be.
Best things about Sancta
Sancta has so much to offer in terms of student opportunities and support. As a social butterfly (and a music and theatre nerd), I loved being able to throw myself into leadership and performance opportunities. I had the pleasure of working with the wonderful 2020 Undergraduate House Committee as Cultural Secretary, which allowed me to craft the cultural and artistic atmosphere in the College. I also loved working as Academic Head for Education and teaming up with the wonderful Community Engagement Team as a Student Ambassador.
More importantly, Sancta gave me a group of girls that I know will be my best friends for life. I have built so much confidence in myself because of the support and opportunities that Sancta gave me, and I am so grateful!
Standout memories of Sancta
Whether it be Bachie night in the common room, intercollegiate competitions or Formal, the best memories at Sancta come down to the people you spend it with.
My personal favourites include organising 2019 and 2020 Welcome Week, getting ready for the 2019 Semi-Formal, and delirious late-night chats with my first-year roommate who was an exchange student from Georgia.
How did you get involved in the community?
The simplest way to get involved in the community is by sitting in the Dining Hall and making friends with the residents at Sancta! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ducked down to the Dining Hall for a quick dinner and ended up staying for two and a half hours chatting!
I also threw myself into every music and drama opportunity I could get my hands on and joined the subcommittees that interested me (including Social Justice, Publications and Gardening!).
What was the hardest adjustment you had to make?
The hardest adjustment I had to make at Sancta was probably being away from my family, especially at a time where my two nephews were growing up so quickly. With regular phone calls and some visits home during mid-semester break, I soon settled into living in the big smoke.
Advice for future students choosing to live at Sancta
First of all, you have made the BEST choice of your life, so congratulations! Even though it seems intimidating, throw yourself into anything and everything at Sancta that excites you. It will lead you to so many joyful and fulfilling experiences and relationships.
Also remember, everyone gets homesick, especially in their first week, so introduce yourself to the girl sitting across from you – that’s what I did and she’s my best friend now!
Moving forward from Sancta
I plan to stay in Sydney to finish my degree. I’m currently teaching drama ensembles at Sydney Girls High School and hoping to start my honours research this semester. Once I’m all graduated, I’d love to pursue postgraduate studies and hopefully teach abroad!
Homesickness, culture shock and anxiety are common experiences for many students living on-campus. How did you manage this aspect of your experience at Sancta?
Living away from home, especially in such a communal environment, can be scary for those who haven’t experienced anything like it before. I tried not to be too hard on myself and leaned on my new friends for support when I needed it. I also got involved in College events and allowed myself a cheeky sleep-in when my university schedule allowed it.
If you could sum up Sancta in a few words, what would you say?
Message for the Sancta community
The gratitude I have for everyone during my stay at Sancta can’t be reduced to a paragraph, but thank you to Brigid, Fiona, Amy, and Hayden for all your support, and for welcoming me back every time I come to visit!
I’d also like to say a huge thank you to the 2020 Undergraduate House Committee and the 2018 cohort. You guys are the best and I can’t wait to look back and laugh about Sancta memories in years to come!