Wednesday, March 25, 2009

a day in the life

This is an article I wrote for a magazine called "Trinity Today" (it's like PAW, but not weekly). I will post it in lieu of an actual entry. enjoy!

The small travel alarm clock by my bed beeps quietly but insistently, and my eyes are grudgingly pried open by the warm Southern-hemisphere sunshine. I meet a friend in the corridor and we trudge out the door of Dorothy, past the Sharwood room, the dining hall, and the Junior Common Room to join a horde of other bleary-eyed girls standing on the bulpadok, ready (or not) for rowing training. After a 3.5K lap around Princes Park, I’m ready to collapse—but unfortunately, I’ve got a 9am lecture. With a shower and some breakfast, I feel a bit more human and (armed with a thermos full of coffee) ready to take on my full day of classes.

Control Systems 1 is followed quickly by Probability; a dash back to college for lunch and I’m on my way out again for two hours of Mechanics 4, a tutorial for Controls, and rounding it all off with a lecture on Biomaterials. But the day isn’t over; after returning to college, I’ve got to head over to the sports oval for a brief softball practice. Afterwards, I have just enough time to check my email, practice my guitar for a bit, and grab my academic gown before heading off to formal hall. Dinner begins with a lovely rendition of the college grace by the world-class chapel choir, and concludes with notices: tickets for this party and that will be on sale at the back of the hall, college Eucharist tonight in the chapel, the bar in the JCR will be open straight after tutorials, residents of Jeopardy please be prepared for a hot-water outage tomorrow afternoon. As students exit, the hall is filled with the scraping of chairs, the swish of black robes, and a buzz of chatter about topics ranging from the inane to the profound.

After dinner, I’ve got a tutorial for Probability with the three other Trinitarians in the class, specially set up for us by the inestimable Sally Dalton-Brown. Our enthusiastic tutor takes half again the allotted time with his complicated analogies and methods before letting us go. Although I really did intend to study, I find myself sitting on the bul for hours, talking and laughing with friends. Suddenly I realize that it’s almost midnight, and yet again I’ve managed to complete none of my work. Ah well, I’ll do it tomorrow. However, I return to Dorothy to find all the doors open and full of friendly faces, calling out hellos and “how’re you going”s, and I somehow end up talking to people there for another hour or so. It’s only by sheer force of will that I declare bedtime for myself and fall fast asleep, reenergizing for another day.


Although this may sound like a typical day in the life of a college student, it’s far from typical for me. As an American exchange student, life here at Trinity has been vastly different from anything I’ve ever encountered. Formal hall? Mandatory kitchen duties? Deans, rectors, and wardens? Floor tutors readily available to ask for advice? Nightly tutorials in addition to classes? And to top it all off . . . O-Week?!?! For a while, it was surprise after surprise as the floodgates opened to pour down all that was Trinity on top of my unsuspecting, thoroughly American self.

It didn’t take long, however, for Trinity to feel like a second home (albeit a slightly surreal one). It’s kind of like constantly being on the set of a movie: the quaint buildings and lovely roses bring to mind a bit of English countryside, and students walk about in Trinity colors looking as if they had stepped out of the pages of a brochure. The cast of characters is eclectic, entertaining, and admirable—there’s Campbell, the dean who lets us throw rave parties on his front lawn; Connie, the bizarre but loveable lunchlady who is a combination mother and tyrant; Paul, the kindly nightwatchman who lets you into your room when you’ve forgotten your key after a long night out on the town; Emma, the intimidating but extraordinarily knowledgeable tutor who lives in Dorothy with her cat, Leo; Frank, the seventy-year-old head of sports who yells himself hoarse during fitness sessions at 6:45am but never says more than two words to anyone at any other time of day; and so many more. I could fill books about them and the empire they’ve built here.

However, the most striking thing about Trinity is the overwhelming variety of opportunities it offers. Before I came to Australia, I promised myself that I would try new things that I didn’t have time for or never had the chance to do in the States. Although I have little to no experience, I’ve been able to get involved in college sports with ease (shocking all of my friends back home); I go to an extracurricular tutorial on Human Rights each week; I take guitar lessons from my friend David, a third-year music student; I sing with the Candystripes, an all-girls a cappella group; the list goes on and on. I also have gotten involved with several things outside Trinity: I meet weekly with a fellowship group at Uni called Christian Union, and I go to services and bible study at St. Jude’s Unichurch; I’m working in the Uni Mechanical Engineering laboratory on a really interesting project; and I still find time occasionally to go busking on Lygon Street, visit my American friends over at RMIT village, or plan a weekend trip to Sydney or Port Fairy.

These opportunities are not always quantifiable. I think that by far the most valuable thing I will take from Trinity is the friendships I have made here, and the things I’ve learned from simply talking to other students. I now know about the glorious invention that is the TimTam, the vagaries of private school rivalries in Melbourne, and that “Saturday week” means “a week from Saturday.” I’ve learned how to play cricket, how to give a decent haircut, and how to make a really good Milo. But most of all, I’ve learned more about myself and the way I interact with other people than I have in three years of an Ivy-league education. I’m having the time of my life, and I’m very glad I’m having it at Trinity.

Down the steep road to the beach in Anglesea at Christian Union "Base Camp," March 13-15

Tea and coffee in Anglesea

A St. Paddy's Day themed JCR

The "Riviera"-themed party last weekend, "Paraiso"

Rachel and I at Paraiso

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