… because evidently I forgot to in my introductory post. I’m Courtney Chin and normally I’m a proud student of Columbia College (class of 2010), but for this Fall 2008 semester I’m studying abroad at the University of Melbourne in Australia. The university is absolutely huge: it has nearly 35,000 students, and like Columbia, has several different schools within it: the school of design, of the arts, of engineering, of law, etc. Unlike Columbia, however, students could actually study law or medicine as undergraduates up until this past year, when they switched to the “Melbourne Model,” which is basically modeled after the American system of a more liberal arts undergraduate focus and then professional focus in graduate years. Established in 1853, the campus is absolutely enormous compared to our dear little one (walking to class might actually take more than five minutes), but the buildings are just as beautiful.
the quad within the Old Arts building
The university is based on the British system, meaning that it also has eleven affiliated colleges within it. Whereas in the States, a college is just an undergraduate school, it means something quite different here. A college is actually a residential community– sizes vary, some have only 60 members whereas the largest have about 350– where students not only live but also have a dining hall, library, rec center, etc., and also have their own sports teams and other such clubs. Think Harry Potter. My college is called Queen’s College, home to about 200 students, most of whom are all Australian– I believe there are 8 exchange students.
the view from my window
Living in college is truly unlike anything I’ve ever imagined– it’s almost like the sorority experience I never thought I wanted, but it is all kinds of lovely. The community is so tight-knit; everybody knows each other’s names and says hello when they see you on campus, everybody hangs out in the quad together and takes all their meals together, and everybody parties together. The college actually sponsors things called “turns,” which are basically themed drunken fiascos (like bling or childhood fears) where at the end of the night each year’s song (there are only first, second, and third year residents) gets played and then we all recite the Queen’s College chants. We also have a GC, or General Committee, which is like a student governing board that hosts a general meeting open to the entire college once a semester, where freshers aren’t allowed to speak– and if they do, they get thrown in the shower with their clothes. Whenever a sports team wins a grand final match, we spoon bang, which isn’t nearly as dirty as it sounds… it really is just banging our spoons on the table in the dining hall for an obscenely long time until our hands hurt, the spoons are bent, and the tables are missing significant chunks. Although Columbia is over a century older than Queen’s, the traditions that Queen’s has give the college such a unique character in comparison.