So here begins the Australian (specifically Camberrian) chapter of my blog (despite the fact that I have been here for over three months now 😉 ), and what better way to kick things off than to introduce the lovely Fenner Hall: the accommodation which almost no one in Australian National University puts as their first choice but reallyreally should. I was one of said people, and was borderline distraught upon hearing that I was off-campus (it’s a 20 minute walk with a free school bus though, so it’s so fine), but from the moment I stepped in, I knew that my being sent here meant karma or whatever sort of worldly force was looking out for me.
If you’ve seen the wildly underestimated Meet the Robinsons, I can tell you that entering Fenner for the first time felt very much like Lewis must have felt when he… well… met the Robinsons. I was just passed from crazyenthusiasticperson to crazyenthusiasticperson, all dressed in the same wine-coloured polo shirts, all seeming to know each other intimately well.
It didn’t take me long to realise that Fenner offered many opportunities for these bonds to form between residents (or ‘ressies’. Damn these Australians and their shortenings… kidding, it’s the most adorable thing). It starts on one’s floor, about 30 ressies in all with one Senior Resident, who is allocated a floor budget and organises activities for us to mix, the most prominent of which would be weekly tea nights (free TimTams could bring anyone together). Then there’s the constant flow of events, most densely packed during Orientation Week (O-week, again with the shortenings) but there’s lots of social activities on the horizon as soon as school starts too. There’s Bread Night every Wednesday (free bread from a local bakery. I know.), group study areas, a volunteer cafe, a group kitchen (which I was none too keen on at first but now I feel sorry for friends in other accommodation who have their own kitchen … it sounds so lonesome… says the self-proclaimed introvert 😉 ), movie nights, bar nights, sports (if you’re into that sorta thing), nights out (if you’re into that sort of thing), arts events (if you’re into that sort of thing)… It’s insanity, there’s so much to encourage a community vibe, and what’s most bizarre is is that all of it, while highly organised by devoted reps and SRs, doesn’t feel forced in any way. Everything flows, each event feeling like a natural family tradition, traditions you wanted to be a part of. An exchange student or someone just starting uni couldn’t ask for a better place to begin their adventure, and anyone else couldn’t ask for a better place to feel like they’re not alone in the hell university can sometimes be.
Since arriving on the 8th of February, the next 4 diary entries began with something to the effect of “I am really lovin’ it here”. Of course, I was always going to love studying abroad, I’d been craving the experience ever since I found out it was a thing, but that didn’t necessarily mean a love of the social element was guaranteed… don’t get me wrong, I love socialising, but it tires me at times, and I have noticed a tendency in myself to FreakDaFakOut whenever I move to another social stage in my life, as in primary school>secondary school, or secondary school>uni. SO, I saw Fenner’s opportunities and grabbed em… because here’s the thing. Even in somewhere like Fenner, a university accommodation that gives you so many chances to meet people, it is still possible to isolate yourself. I enjoy my free time, I enjoy lots of solitary extra-curricular activities such as writing, reading, watching movies, non team-sport exercise… I could have let O-week pass me by without making a connection in the world.
But people are great, the vast majority mean the very best, and the people I have met here enhance each day tenfold, even if it’s just from a smile exchange when walking down the awkwardly long corridor (although more often than not it’s smile, then chat, then movie night or food or alcohol or group get-together). I can confidently say that I know more people here than I do in my uni back home, and not just because I am in student accommodation, but because, during those first few days, I stared at that new door of mine, feeling heavy with jetlag and an awareness that I knew absolutely no one yet, but opened it regardless, and sat and helped my new neighbours decorate North Tower, Floor 5 with Sesame Street decorations for the inter-floor O-week competition (I know, it’s a sin against Disney….)
Well this is officially the rambliest introduction to a little Ode ever. Basically, I adore the above meme, mainly because Goob is one of the funniest Disney villains ever but also because self-isolation and blaming the people around you for your loneliness can be a major issue. Blaming yourself ain’t all that desirable either, mind you, but the ball does tend to be in your court if you really want to be a part of your own Robinsonesque family. It’s not as easy as being stored in another human for nine months and popping (forgive the onomatopoeia) into a pre-made family. There’s gonna be some effort involved, but I promise you it’s worth every night-in sacrifice (although of course it’s good to look out for number 1 in times of stress, but that’s a subject for another blog).
Here is my v. cheesy pep talk (there’s one particular line I keep laughing at) to the wonderful Michael Yagoobian. You go get em, gorgeous, nobody hates you.
“I know. I’m disgusting” “Everyone hates me”
Banish those thoughts from your mind
For self-loathing and loneliness are intertwined.
It’s easy to form tunnel-vision
When trodding the hallway of life,
Transitioning from 1st base to 2nd
Without taking a look around.
But there are people trodding that same hallway
Many of whom would be willing to
invite you home
compliment your binder
listen to that melodic laughter of yours
If only you would let them…
But if there are people you decide to address
Avoid those ones you’d have to impress.
Toxic bowler hats don’t deserve
The T-rexes you summon for them.