Living in a Residential College
Hi! My name is Cecilia Liando and I’m currently a Master of Publishing and Communications student in the University Melbourne. At the moment, I live in a residential college for graduate students, affiliated with the University of Melbourne called Graduate House.
Have you ever thought of living in a residential college during your studies? There are actually many benefits of staying in a residential college. Although I have been ‘warned’ by people in Indonesia during my pre-departure briefing that residential colleges are very costly, after weighing in everything, I found that the price is very reasonable, especially after looking at the services provided and time and energy saved. Depending on your needs, living in a residential college might be the best option for you.
These are the benefits of living in a residential college, compared than any other places:
1. Prime location.
Usually residential colleges are situated near the main campus. This makes everything easier as sometimes we need to take or put something in our room. Changing classes and holding heavy books will not be any problem since we can go back and forth. If we are tired, we can also go back and rest for a while or even take a power nap before class. Studying between classes can also be done in the convenience of our room or the library inside the residential college.
2. (Almost) everything is provided.
It comes with food. It depends on the college but typically the price includes daily food. My college provides breakfast and dinner every week days only since sometimes people prefer to eat out during weekends. However, some colleges actually provide food thrice daily. The price usually also comes with utilities, security, and cleaning service. In my college, the cleaning ladies come once a week. There are laundry facilities, communal kitchen, libraries, and even sometimes also gym! College libraries are great for studying since not so many people are studying there, compared to university libraries. It is also a great place to meet and bond with people while studying and doing your assignments. I have seen a lot of collaborations and discussions by people from different fields of study happened in my college library. It is a place for stimulating academic discussions. Meeting people and having discussions also happen daily in the dining hall.
3. It gives you a regular chance to meet and interact with people from different background, fields of study, and nationalities.
There are so many nationalities in a college. In my college, people come from Asia, Europe, Middle East, Latin America, and even Australia. Not everyone is international students. You get to meet people from different background and fields of study too. In my college, there are students studying neuroscience cardiovascular, neural medicine, philosophy, anthropology, landscape architecture, urban planning, and many more. Meeting these people expand my mind expand and increase my knowledge beyond my own field of study. It also gives me an opportunity to speak English, rather than living with only Indonesian people and talking only in Indonesian all the time.
4. You make valuable academic and professional connections.
Living in a residential college, especially a graduate college like mine means meeting master or Ph.D. students, professionals or would-be professionals of their own fields. This means that I am able to create connections, both academic and professionals with those who are also in my field and those who are in other fields, in case we need each other and want to collaborate together. It also looks good in LinkedIn and resume to list that I have lived in a residential college. It also means I am a member of a historic college with long tradition behind it. Moreover, residential colleges usually have scholarships for their selected residents. Residential colleges often have reciprocal agreement with other colleges around the world if you need to go somewhere else for research or study purpose.
Some things to be considered:
5. Look at what kind of your room you prefer – shared or private
Most of the residential colleges will have shared bathroom and often shared bedroom. It depends. When I am looking for colleges, I searched for a single room with en-suite bathroom (bathroom inside). The price varies according to this.
6. Apply early.
Since there are so many benefits offered by residential colleges, they are very popular and highly sought-after all time of the year, but most especially at the beginning of the semester. In my college, for February/March university intake, the application for new tenants already opens in September. There are many people interested in applying so the college will not worry about you; once again, my advice is: apply early!
7. For some colleges, prepare yourself for selection process and interviews.
Some residential colleges, especially those for the undergraduates, the selection process is very lengthy and requires longer duration than my graduate college. Most of the time it will require application and selection process, first-come first-serve basis service and interviews. Luckily, for my college, it does not require any interview. I just need to apply early.
8. Rent for a longer term if possible; it’s cheaper.
If you rent for a longer term, like one year, it will definitely be cheaper than if you rent for one semester.
9. Prepare yourself to be busy and active by participating in events and committees to make the most of your college life.
You can and you’d better make the most of your college life. Be active, participate in every event and committee formed in your residential college. In my college, there are several roles such as duty residents, resident tutor and Graduate House committee. There are so many opportunities present in colleges as there are so many events so make the most of them!
Photo provided by author
Cecilia Liando studied Bachelor of English Education in Universitas Pelita Harapan (Lippo Village, Indonesia), worked as a teacher and freelance translator then spent one year in Peking University (Beijing, China) to learn Mandarin Chinese language. Currently, she is pursuing her Master degree in Publishing and Communications at the University of Melbourne (Melbourne, Australia) with the intention of becoming a translator and editor.