Posted on 26 September 2013 by The Bucket Editorial
Only the Amish Understand
Senior Canada Correspondant
Living in a North American college is weird. I’m not saying it’s bad. Quite the opposite in fact: I love it. But if you accept what people say about university not being “the real world”, that is only half-true in Australia. At least at home, once I leave the university grounds I return to being surrounded by everyday Melburnians: tradesmen, high school kids, and the usual suit-and-tie wearing mob on my packed train home. If you’re studying at an institution found in one of North America’s countless “college towns”, then you most likely live on campus or within a ten minute walk of campus. It also means you are destined to spend four years living inside a bubble. A bubble filled with red cups, frizbees and people who all wear your school’s colours.
Nothing illustrates this phenomenon better than the language spoken by my gracious hosts around campus. If you’ve been committing this column to memory (you should be), then you’ll remember that I’m staying in the only francophone province of Canada: Quebec. While travelling around Quebec nothing is more obvious than the fact that “ici, on parle français” (here, we speak French), but walking around Bishop’s’ campus you could be forgiven for thinking that you’ve driven all the way through Quebec and are now in the unfortunate position of being in New Brunswick.
And there’s no escape from this bubble. You wake up, you go and have breakfast at the dining hall with the people you’re either about to have classes with or with whom you’ll also be having lunch and dinner. At night, you head to the local watering-hole with the rest of your college (in a move that would make many Australians cry, they only built one pub in this town). Classes genuinely feel like a rude interruption to the much more important social side of college life.
No wonder everyone here is so friendly, because no matter how you feel about someone, the only thing for sure is that you’ll be seeing them around. All of that being said, I think it’s lovely. The real world can definitely wear you down. So I’m just hoping that six-months incubation in such a community will be enough. If not, I suppose I can investigate sneaking my way into an Amish settlement.
Posted on 10 September 2013 by The Bucket Editorial
Learning Whether Size Matters at University
Senior Canada Correspondant
As an exchange student, I am in the rather unique position of being able to directly compare two vastly different education facilities. My home university, Monash, perched on scenic Wellington road in Melbourne’s gorgeous south-eastern sprawl, is not what you would call a small institution. Educating a staggering 45,000 undergraduates, it won’t surprise you to learn that Monash is Australia’s largest university.
While my gracious hosts here in Quebec, Bishop’s University, have been around a comfortable 115 years longer than my home institution, yet they haven’t been quite so eager on multiplying their students in such a fashion as to embarrass rabbits. Bishop’s has roughly 2,400 students; they are as adorably small as their campus is beautiful.
At Bishop’s, all my classes are within a minutes walk of all my other classes, while at Monash, some of my between class hikes around campus make the Kokoda trail look like a pleasant Sunday stroll. The relative proximity of classrooms here at BU will surely come into its own once the mercury drops down to negative forty…
Another striking difference is found in the class sizes. In my first year at home, I took a calculus class that had over 500 students. Here, the lecturer of my history class with 100 or so students couldn’t stop apologising for how ‘enormous’ the class is. Most classes here fit in rooms that would only be used for tutorials at Monash. During class here the lecturer is close enough to see whether someone up the back has a pimple.
The one aspect that Monash and all its giganticness is better than this quaint university is in choice of classes. At a university of such magnitude as the one that I call home, you can study anything. I’ve personally studied things as obtuse as the history of sexuality. At Bishop’s the choice is limited, with only 5 history courses to choose from. Nonetheless, the personal touch of being on a first name basis with your lecturers certainly makes up for it.
Overall, it would seem that when it comes to universities, size does matter. Small is better.
Posted on 09 June 2012 by The Bucket Editorial
by Daniel McDonald
Ever been stuck in another country and suddenly come to the realisation that this mundane task might in fact, be illegal? You don’t live there, so you wouldn’t know how they roll. If the aforementioned has occurred, I suggest you get yourself tested, because the thing between your ears is missing. Newton’s laws aside, every different jurisdiction has similar laws. Every country seems to have, at the very least, a few universal laws. Murder, robbery, indecent exposure, Murphy’s and public fornication laws are commonplace worldwide.
Despite this, there must a reason why every young adult wants to travel to Amsterdam. I’ll solve this for you. Amsterdam has no fun police, unlike most contemporary societies. Amsterdam’s laws encourage semi naked women in windows and other morally frowned upon past times. But where else can we have such fun? A quiet note, some laws discussed in the article are not intended to be racist, please do not be offended. Let this be your guide to what you can and can’t do in Australia, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
Before we jet off overseas, let’s start with the homeland. If you own a horse, head on down to your local bar, because Australian bars are required to be able to stable, water and feed horses of their patrons. Legitimately, that’s actually a law. Wearing hot pink pants after midday on Sunday, in the amazing state that is Victoria, is also punishable by law. Unfortunately, not by death. Nevertheless, indie kids, beware. Having an object of disguise without a lawful excuse is also illegal. I’m sure police understand that spelunking is always undertaken in morph suits, but if you’re not a skier, ditch the balaclava.
Posted on 02 June 2012 by The Bucket Editorial
by Daniel McDonald.
Where can you go to find cheap beer, flying foxes, swimming, dead, women in bikinis in Asia? Well ok, full moon party in Thailand might have them. But tubing in Van Vieng, Laos is better. Why? Laos sounds like such a boss country, and people can’t make bad puns about liking shirt and tie.
Tubing is the epitome of every uni student’s heaven; it even doubles as hell when their parents comprehend these shenanigans, or see it on 60 minutes. Tubing isn’t an activity or pastime; it’s a lifestyle. Anywhere that houses alcohol and swimmable water turns out horribly wrong. And in the land of university, that’s a good thing. It’s a lovely pastime for people who don’t know their future, or don’t have a future.
The basic theory of tubing is simple. It consists of floating down in a river in Vang Vieng, in tubes that stay afloat as often as the titanic, with alcohol, preferably spirits. Alcohol is consumed at a rate of knots, and both men and women progressively disrobe. The cheap beer isn’t exactly ideal to serve in on the Upper East Side, but we all slum it sometimes. The grapevine has indicated that goon will soon be added to the beverage list. Until then, women must consume grotesque, manly drinks.