A gut feeling- I chose where to live for four months, across the world, based on a gut feeling. I was overwhelmed with the packets full of information, terminology I didn’t quite understand, and the pressure of choosing the style of housing I would be stuck with for four months. As I filled out my housing application, I selected one of my top three choices through an “eeny-meeny-miny-moe” thought process. This could have been detrimental to my experience abroad, but my choice turned out to exceed any and every expectation I set. Now, let me tell you why you should intentionally choose Burgmann College at the Australian National University.
One of the first decisions to make when choosing where to live is deciding which meal plan option to choose. As someone who has only ever lived at home and on-campus in a residence hall, I needed somewhere with similar to what I had always known. I struggled with this decision though, because “the whole point of studying abroad is to try new things,” according one half of my brain. While this is true, I am so grateful I chose what is called a “catered” option, as there was plenty of new to experience without throwing in cooking for myself and buying groceries. A “catered” college has set meal times with a variety of food cooked three times a day with snacks available outside of meal times. Other accommodations are classified as either “self-catered,” much like living at an off-campus apartment would be, and “semi-catered,” which would be a mixture of the two options. Burgmann College meals are held in a large dining room and always full of laughter, interesting conversation, and bonding among residents.
A unique aspect of “college” life at Burgmann is the access to competitive, yet extremely inclusive interhall sports and arts leagues. During each term (a term is half of a semester- split by a mid-semester break), there are 4 or 5 different, term-long sports tournaments and approximately 4 arts competitions. Regretfully, I was too timid to get involved during the first term, but relived my inner cheerleader by attending games and events. The second term I gathered up the courage to join the basketball and dance teams. Tuesday and Thursday morning basketball trainings were full of laughter, sweat, and incredible fun, all while getting to know other Burgmann residents and staying active. Our hard work all paid off as the basketball team earned 1st place in the tournament! After weeks of rehearsals, countless “one more time’s,” and an unimaginable number of spins, Burg Dance won 3rd place at the Interhall Dance night!
Without a doubt, my favorite part of Burgmann College is the people. Burgmann is primarily populated by Australians, which means I really got to be immersed into Aussie culture. Aussies are so genuinely inclusive, welcoming this Texan into their community with open arms. Burgmann is split into two blocks, with three floors of about 50 residents on each block. The floor communities are so tightly-knit, shout out to 3B for being the best floor of them all. Every Wednesday night the entire floor gathers in our common area, known as “convo,” for Tim Tams, which is named after the delicious, chocolately treat that is desperately missing from America. Tim Tam nights are meant for announcements and socializing, with many of us sticking around for hours just to chat. I was so blessed to be a part of Burgmann and get to know such amazing people, with a special shout out to Nixie-Claire, Canada, Lennie, Bridget, Sophie, Ellie, Jen, and so many more.
Mental health is also heavily prioritized in the college with a variety of exceptional pastoral care methods available. With 2 RA’s on each floor, there is access to a trained peer readily available, which makes someone who might not want to go straight to a counselor more likely to reach out. In addition, the professional staff of the college is stellar, willing to help Burgmann ressies in any way they can. As a mental health advocate, I commend and am inspired by Burgmann’s contributions to destigmatizing mental illness and help-seeking.
Inclusive, high-achieving, supportive, competitive, community — these are all words I would use to describe my home away from home this semester. From Interhall Sports to flarties to 40 hours of Film, Burgmann provides an endless variety of opportunities to get involved for all people. Burgmann College is a unique accommodation that combines the best parts of typical American dorms and the independence of off-campus living, creating a once-in-lifetime living opportunity. So instead of blindly choosing an accommodation like I did, take advantage of all Burgmann has to offer and be prepared for an adventure of a lifetime. Hook ’em!