Ruth's Diary


Imagine being a first year student, about to start their time at university. As they travel to their university of choice, where they will remain for the next 3/4 years in all likelihood, they go through all kinds of emotions: excitement, trepidation, apathy. They will also wonder just what their time will be like. How will I manage a routine without my parents? What will my new friends be like? Will I join any societies? Will my course be hard? And then upon arrival, if they don't have a place in a hall of residence, they're placed in a hotel until accommodation is found for them, even if it takes longer than a month. What a mind bender.

One thing I've learned in Canberra is that this is the reality that a proportion of first year students at the Australian National University go through every year. Why? Well here's the dumb part: while the ANU guarantees accommodation for every first year they actually don't have enough university-run flats to offer. And when on my return from the Botanic Gardens I was forced to walk through the ANU campus I could see precisely why they don't have enough: none of their blocks of flats have more than 2 floors. This is just idiocy incarnate. If you don't have enough space, instead of building on more land just build upon the already existing accommodation! The entire campus struck me as afraid of tall buildings, which is bizarre in itself since...well, it's an image many associate with uni campuses: TALL BUILDINGS!

If you're wondering how I found this out, well older students looking for places for rent temporarily stay in hostels while on their search. One such student explained this to me. But I did get the wrong impression that a chunk of the city's (few) hostels was also bought by the university to act as temporary accommodation. They're not. But I panicked when I learned that there weren't any beds available Wednesday night. I thought after that there would be less beds for weeks or something. No, the bed shortage had nothing to do with being overrun by students, but this was the time of year chosen for refurbishment, which means an entire floor has been blocked off temporarily. There were also some cancellations, so upon learning this I extended my stay as long as possible (I check out Friday morning since it's fully booked the next 2 nights), which is good because I was offered a job and start tonight. Now I'm just going to have to negotiate my weekend shifts since it's highly likely I'll have to leave Canberra briefly.

Oh but another stupid thing about ANU's accommodation, which would explain the hostel being full this weekend (students wanting to get there a day early) is its policy of not allowing anyone to inhabit their room anytime before the contracted time period. This Saturday is the official first day anyone can claim their keys. What is ANU trying to do? Encourage a traffic jam?

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