Many of our residents come to Lincoln College alone, brand-new to Adelaide, with no established networks. Erin Chin, our 2023 Humanities Tutor at Lincoln, wrote about her experiences adjusting to life at College.
It all starts in senior year.
Final exams, formals, end of year celebrations and the long-awaited graduation. Like many others I had settled on my first ‘choice’ of university and I worked hard to earn a place. The elation of getting accepted to the University of South Australia was quickly chased by a sudden realisation- where was I going to live?
I had no family or friends in Adelaide, and I had barely explored rental options. In fact, I had only visited the city once for a holiday, which didn’t make me confident in my navigation skills. So, with the clock ticking on my move South from Queensland, I started researching places to stay and I found the option of Residential Colleges.
I fell in love with the idea of college life, heading into an exciting new space surrounded by a cohort of like-minded students that, would no doubt, feel as enthused as me. After working and saving for a year, my application to Lincoln College was approved and I found myself ready to start 2022 in a new town and State.
My arrival was certainly something. I felt like I had been thrown into the deep end of the pool, no familiar faces, no familiar street signs, or corner cafes. People around me were discussing high schools they had attended and I recognised none of them. I was nervous the first two nights of my Orientation Week, until it hit me; everything I was nervous about, was every reason I should be excited instead! The very next day I could only feel excited.
I had lived in my hometown my whole life and had attended the same high school from years seven to twelve, with a rather small cohort. It was so easy to get comfortable when you knew every classmate, had been with your same group of friends for years, lived with your family and ran into the same regulars at the supermarket. I decided that while it felt uncomfortable losing that sense of familiarity, if there was any time to present a reinvented version of myself it would be now while at college.
College is an invigorating experience and grants an unparalleled level of freedom. Being able to pursue your interests with your full passion, taking classes you’re interested in (goodbye Physical Education!) and taking time to discover what makes you, you, are inescapable aspects of youth. Attending university while being backed by Lincoln felt limitless. It removed the fear of failing, because when 150 residents rally around you and call for you to not give up, to try again, what else is there really to do but indeed try again?
For many, this is the first step on the path of independence. After all, no one’s going to act as your parent and wake you up so you’re not late for class or pester you to hand your assignment in (although some resident student tutors definitely would). Even though I was living away from family, it never once felt like that. On the nights where I’d travel back via bus from class late, there was always someone in the dining hall who would wave me over and pull up a chair for me to collapse into, and always half a dozen ears ready for me to recount my day.
I cannot speak for all colleges in terms of their social life, but Lincoln really set the bar when it came to inclusion. Student run events and clubs provided a space for everyone to get together, while student equality panels allowed Indigenous, disabled, LGBTQIA+, and people of colour a platform to share their experiences with the community, allowing us to get closer as residents.
Before I knew it, the year had flown by. I’d expanded my contacts list by about a hundred names and could direct tourists to Rundle Mall and the tram stops without a hitch or know what bus to catch to take me home. Lincoln College really had become a home in every sense of the word, and my ‘goodbye list’ had me running laps around the campus.
A fellow resident commented on how different I was now compared to my first day. It left me pondering, but in the end, I had to agree. It’s impossible to not change after a year away from home and exploring all the freedoms that go hand in hand with uni life. They say that your view of the world is shaped by those around you, and that is why Lincoln is so incredibly influential for university students. Even being enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts, I’ve become friends with people from all kinds of degrees and with varying interests that have shaped the way that I approach my next day.
Residential colleges like Lincoln open up a world view only available for residents; a view built around inclusion, positivity, awareness, community and ambition. It’s an enlightening experience like no other, and I would not be able to imagine my university experience without my Lincoln College family.