All posts by mandelbaum

Renewable Energy — Fringe and Boring but Now in Public Eye!

Mark Schneider presented his million dollar budgets, his university life-changing decisions, how his team made a Pygmy Blue-tongue Lizard reserve and how his love for speaking changed his career from an engineering student to a renewables and environment consultant. Mark was accompanied to this monthly college formal dinner by his wife Ariane, who helped him remember the name of the company who offered him his first job. Mark answered some questions like- Can you make money from renewable energy? At whose cost? Why electricity prices are high? And the political argument which surround this topic.

Mark graduated from the University of Sydney in 1987 with a BE Honours in electrical engineering, pure math and computer science. Since the age of 10 he wanted to be an engineer but his love of speaking is what, after 7 years in the software developing field, gave him courage to shift to the renewable energy and environment field as a consultant, now principal. One of the major projects in his career has been the Hornsdale Wind Farm which is around 250 kms from Adelaide. He adds that he believed in the project when no one else did, and was determined that the site had the three things which a wind farm needs, wind, open space and population nearby.

The evening began with Chelsea, who is a recorded singer, and Theo, a talented piano player, singing a beautiful song “Wings”, which complemented the evening perfectly! The lamb dinner was delicious thanks to the effort of the head Chef Robert and his hard-working team.

As plates cleared, Peleg gave an interesting and detailed welcome introduction to Mark, who told us there would be no technical engineering terms mentioned. He was right about that.  He made all the residents understand the actual meaning of renewable energy, the cost involved, the process of building a wind farm, who is going to benefit from it and who’s not, how renewable energy is the cheapest source to generate electricity, its storage and transfer process, how the cost of solar energy has dropped from $92 in 2013 to $55 presently.

For many of us, a most interesting part was learning of the re-discovery of the Pygmy Blue-tongue Lizards who now have their own reserve.

Mark offered us new way of thinking about renewable electricity. That it needs time, resilience, luck and patience to build. How it is no one’s loss and has value proposition attached to it and how one person should pick out winners in the field.

By – Vaibhavi Chabra(Mandelbaum resident)

Is Your Brain Made of Rubber?

Dr. Sue Morris strides across the room, engaging us with her quick wit and lively lecturing style as she regales the tale of Liam. A hypothetical individual who illustrates the concept of suboptimal thinking, Liam has texted his date after what he thinks was a great night, but receives no response.  Assuming the worst — that he did something wrong and will be forever alone — his day spirals into a heap of TV and sadness. Of course, there were other reasons for perhaps why his date did not respond immediately, but he leapt to negative conclusions and wasted his day on the couch. Why? And how many times have you done the same in response to other setbacks in life? Dr. Morris gave us a fitting lesson in how our brains are less clever than we think them, and what we can do about it.

Dr. Morris attended the University of New South Wales for both her undergraduate and postdoctoral studies in developmental psychology. She now teaches at UNSW, where “[her] job is to make students the best versions of themselves,” and has also worked with lecturers to improve engagement with their students. Dr. Morris has received many accolades in her field for excellence in teaching, but her latest achievement lies in the literary realm: her new book, The Rubber Brain: A toolkit for optimising your study, work, and life!, offers advice for changing our mindset in response to the daily challenges life often throws in our face.

While everyone settled into their seats, Mandelbaum House’s first formal dinner of Semester 2 began with Chelsea’s performance of her original song “Robin”, a hauntingly beautiful tribute to her friend who took his own life and a fitting segue into the mental health theme of the dinner. Before steaming plates of salmon and broccolini — the efforts of the great head Chef Robert and his hard-working team — could even be set on the table, residents began peppering Dr. Morris with questions, all of which she answered with passionate enthusiasm. It’s clear that she has found her calling; indeed, when speaking of teaching, she noted that, “it’s [her] favorite thing to do.”

As plates were cleared, Vaibhavi gave a lovely welcome speech before Dr. Morris dove into her talk, eyes sparkling as she described her metaphor of the rubber brain and its importance in a better life. Dr. Morris explained how our brains are much less sophisticated than we humans are prone to believing. Being somewhat slow on the evolutionary uptake, they remain hardwired to look for danger, be on the alert, and use heuristics, or shortcuts, which lead to rapid assumptions about our world. Such activities were helpful when we inhabited caves and hunted while being hunted, but are less useful today, when the most dangerous aspect of our survival is driving to the store for groceries. These habits of the brain lead to “suboptimal thinking,” the kind that prevents us from reaching our goals, achieving a sense of well being, and becoming the best version of ourselves. As with the example of Liam, we tend to see the negative, rather than consider other possibilities for our setbacks. Learning to retrain our brain to be more resilient in the face of challenges — that is, to bounce back, or perhaps deflect the shrapnel of a negative experience — is a step towards improved well being and a happier, healthier life.

Dr. Morris’s talk offered a plethora of useful tips for training our brains to think more optimally, and was an excellent way to start what I hope will be a successful semester for all of us! To learn more, you can purchase here book from here: http://www.aapbooks.com/

By Casey Kuka, Mandelbaum resident

 

 

Location! Location! Location!

‘Location! Location! Location!’ is a mantra repeated so often when finding a new place to live.

Mandelbaum House goes above and beyond in meeting these expectations as we are in a prime location of Darlington which sits between Redfern station (giving our residents easy access to the entire city of Sydney), the University of Sydney’s main campus, which includes access to multiple libraries, learning centres and social event sites, including (which was a personal draw-card for me) the universities biggest and freshly equipped fitness facility and gym, hosting basketball, futsal, squash and tennis courts as well as an Olympic size swimming pool. What more could you need to deal with the stresses of university study! The proximity of Mandelbaum to one of Sydney’s fastest growing social and nightlife locations, King Street, Newtown, ensures that college residents will always be spoilt for choice regarding how they spend their leisure time.

Personally, for me and many of the friends I have made at Mandelbaum, the amazing and unique position our college sits not only gives easy access to University academic/study facilities but also an easy, safe and secure portal into Sydney’s nightlife.

Another thing that sets Mandelbaum apart from your other accommodation options is the vibrant communal feel that everyone here experiences as they walk through the doors. The house radiates homely and familiar vibes, with both residents and staff, always happy to help explain college and university life, as well as any extra-curricular activities that you may choose to take part in. These may include college events, that may be organised by students and our very own resident society (RESOC) as well as the residential assistants (RA’s), both of whom host events throughout the semester that promise to keep you busy and entertained during your free time.

Living so close to one of the main stations of Sydney definitely has its perks. With easy access to all the entertainment areas, such as the CBD, Darling harbour, Circular Quay and smaller more locally geared venues that cover our part of the Inner West. Honestly, sometimes the array of opportunities that living at Mandelbaum presents can be overwhelming at times. Even just down the road from college, there is a farmer’s market every Saturday which is famed for its fresh produce, freshly made crepes and coffee, the last two being personal favourites of mine! If you are less of a foodie and more interested in the latest fashion trends including ‘indie’ styles, Mandelbaum sits between two of the best well known locations for meeting your clothing needs, being Newtown and Glebe.

I for one, have fallen in love with the college and its unique location, being in my third year now, I can say with credibility that living at Mandelbaum house has made my University experience so much better in so many unique ways. It’s a must have for any undergraduate or postgraduate student looking for somewhere to live during their studies!!

By Benjamin Leadbetter, Mandelbaum House Resident Assistant

2018 Archibald Finalist Bares All

Two time Archibald Prize Finalist Loribelle Spirovski graces Mandelbaum House with her presence for our second last formal dinner of the semester.

Earlier this year, Spirovski displayed a Solo show of her art at Guy Hepner Gallery in New York City, but she says “I still find myself just as shy, anxious and insecure” as before, except with a little more experience where she is able to turn those emotions into “a creative force.”

Spirovski took us on a verbal and visual journey through her life: from her upbringing in the Philippines, to her time studying Teaching and finally, the revolutionary moment when she began painting.

She also spoke about eventually meeting her husband and inspiration for more recent paintings; the talented and well-known pianist Simon Tedeschi. Spirovski often paints at home while Simon plays the piano in the background, and that left me thinking how their household must be bursting with talent and creative energy.

Working primarily with paint as her medium, we also got to see various works by her such as the introspective and emotionally provoking Memento Mori that spoke about depression, anxiety and its intersection with identity on canvas; to her Homme series and mentioned her short-lived affair with self-portraits, titled Am I doing Feminism Right? You can see her paintings here.

In the selfie obsessed age, Spirovski reminds us about humility among achievements and how we are always learning when she says “I am still very much a student and I am constantly learning.”

Interestingly, Spirovskis’ humility and grace also depicts itself via her signature: a simple, yet modern ‘LS’ carefully placed in the corner of her canvases; which I think speaks volumes about her as an artist as well.

Spirovski teaches us about the importance of having an open mind to the opportunities that life brings, and of taking life one brush stroke at a time, until we find our calling and authentic selves.

By Karishma Luthria, Mandelbaum House resident

The World’s Happiest Man- Eddie Jaku

On the night of the 11th of April, a very special person joined Mandelbaum House for Formal Dinner. This special person is Eddie Jaku, a man filled with wisdom, with a very important story to tell: Eddie survived the Holocaust, a mass genocide where six million Jews were brutally persecuted and murdered by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Many of us have learned about this dark period of history in school, yet nothing is as powerful as hearing this story from a person who has lived through the Holocaust as their reality. As a man who had experienced such injustice, torture, and hopelessness, Eddie proclaims to be the happiest man alive.

As a dear friend to Mandelbaum House, Eddie’s story has inspired and touched the hearts of many residents throughout the years. This formal dinner is no exception; in fact, many of our alumni came back to join us for this special dinner to see him once again. The cheerful and happy vibes filled the room throughout dinner, and Eddie continuously engaged with residents over the dinner table through conversations and laughter. Over dinner, he also joyfully informed us, that his birthday was coming up in a few days. On the 14th of April, Eddie Jaku turned 98 years old.

The highlight of our evening has to be Eddie’s speech. Eddie speaks with great eloquence and wisdom as he recalls on the events occurred in his life, including the vivid memories of when it all began. From a young engineer who returned home for a short visit, which developed into a series of events of brutality and separation from loved ones, to long on-foot journeys in the cold winter where a small glimpse of mercy and kindness were found along the way. Perhaps from these experiences, Eddie encompasses profound wisdom in regards to every aspect of what makes us human. Through his story of separation and survival, he elaborates on the importance of friendship and companionship, in which he accounts as what kept him alive. Most importantly, the biggest take-home lesson of Eddie’s story is the irrefutable need to learn from history, so that the mistakes of the past would not be repeated in the present and the future. Towards the end of his speech, Eddie made a short, yet powerful statement: “when you are sad, think of me”.

I am thinking of you Eddie, not because I feel down. It is because this evening is truly one of the most memorable evenings of my life. Thank you, and on behalf of Mandelbaum House, I would genuinely like to wish you a very happy birthday once again. You deserve all the happiness in the world.

In honour of Eddie, an annual prize in his name will be awarded to a resident who is a “mensch” and demonstrates qualities of integrity and honour. The prize will be presented in November.

By Lucy Lu, Mandelbaum resident

The Chancellor Visits Mandelbaum House

Last week saw the beginning of classes at the University of Sydney and the return of early mornings and all-nighters for about 60,000 students. In the midst of the whirlwind that is the new semester, residents at Mandelbaum House welcomed Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson AM for their first formal dinner of the year.

Belinda Hutchinson is a proud USYD alumnus who had a fruitful and varied career in consulting and became chairperson of several boards of directors before returning to the university as Chancellor in 2013. As someone who had the opportunity to sit across from the Chancellor and chat with her over dinner, I personally hope she stays for many years to come.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. The night started with residents meeting the Chancellor and welcoming her to Mandelbaum House, followed by a beautiful and moving musical performance by resident Chelsea Stutchbury.

Then we sat down to dinner and peppered the Chancellor with questions about her experiences and advice for people starting out in their careers. She talked about the importance of showing up and not being afraid of asking questions. Naturally she also had questions for us. We talked about Mandelbaum House and our community, and about Chelsea’s just-released album and why she’s donating the proceeds to the Icon Cancer Foundation and the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

When I asked the Chancellor to name her favourite quality in a USYD student, she said it was the ability to take advantage of their resources to help other people who don’t necessarily have the same resources. She gave the example of Jack Manning Bancroft, an Indigenous USYD student who started a program for university students to tutor local Indigenous high school students. This program expanded into AIME, the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience, which is now an international organisation.

After dinner the Chancellor delivered an inspiring speech in which she spoke about the founder of Mandelbaum House, Rachel Lipton, who was one of the university’s pioneering female graduates. After graduating in 1918, Lipton became an English and Latin teacher. She initially donated money to the university in memory of her sister, Rose Mandelbaum, for a music scholarship. In her will, she bequeathed funds to establish a college called Mandelbaum House as a tribute to her parents.

The Chancellor also spoke about her own university experience and encouraged us to spread our wings and get actively involved in university life.

It was amazing to hear about her family foundation, which focuses on helping disadvantaged communities. For the past nine years it has worked with a non-government organisation called The Hunger Project in Malawi to help eradicate hunger in a community of villages. When she and her family visited this community of about 10,000 people last year, its members were celebrating their new-found self-reliance.

For me, it was humbling to see the Chancellor of a large university come to a dinner with just 38 students. This intimate event was a refreshing break from the large classrooms we spent the week getting used to – a time to sit together, listen to one another and enjoy great company, delicious food and inspiring music.

By Gauri Ganjoo, Mandelbaum resident
Photos: Giselle Haber

Talented Tedeschi Shines

Mandelbaum House had the immense pleasure of hosting world renowned concert pianist Simon Tedeschi and Loribelle Spirovski, Archibald Prize finalist (2017) and fiancé of Tedeschi at our second formal dinner of semester two.

Tedeschi took the crowd through his journey into music and how it emerged to be his passion. From being a hand double playing the piano in the Oscar winning movie Shine to performing for dignitaries on a school night, he’s done it all and more. But, he says it was no easy feat. While it may look glamourous on the outside, there were a lot of sacrifices involved like long hours of practices and isolation.

He also commented on the constant, yet changing landscape of classical music in Australia and around the world, stating it’s “no longer sufficient to just play Chopin, but you also have to conduct yourself like Cary Grant and look like George Clooney. Luckily I have two of those covered!”. Whilst the audiences he has played for have tended to comprise of older generations over the years, Tedeschi says it too is changing with his upcoming work for a younger audience at the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s program ‘Who needs a conductor Anyway?’.

Adaptability is an important quality to have, says Tedeschi. It is important to adapt to changing tastes, technology and being able to reinvent learning. He quotes Charles Rosen, the eminent musicologist, when he said that “The death of classical music is perhaps its oldest continuing tradition.”

The highlight of Mandelbaum formal dinners is not only the fact that we get great food and conversation but we get life lessons, from people who have foraged out into the world and carved successful paths for themselves. From Simon Tedeschi, we learnt that sometimes the “hardest work gets the least recognition” but, its all worth it if it genuinely makes you happy.

The audience got lucky with not only one but two piano performances that evening- one  from  Mandelbaum ’s in-house talent Kartik Kuna and the other, a private classical piano show from Mr. Tedeschi. The two artists then had an impromptu jam session which was one of the most fun things to watch – two sets of hands collaborating to make one piece of beautiful soulful jazz. Our night at Mandelbaum couldn’t have ended better and we hope the wonderful Mr.Tedeschi and Ms. Spirovski had a great time too.

By Karishma Luthria, Mandelbaum resident

Photo credit: Lucy Lu, Kyle Fan & Naihan Nith (residents)

My Other Home…

They say home is where the heart is. That special place full of memories, laughs and warmth. Somewhere where we can return and feel comfortable, a place where we belong. I always thought that there can only be one such place; until I moved to Sydney and found my second home. This time last year I was nervously sitting, awaiting my dentistry interview at the University of Sydney. I was so concentrated on getting past this obstacle, that the thought of living in Sydney did not really cross my mind. It was a Friday afternoon when I received my acceptance letter. Tears of joy rolling down my face I realised I was going to leave my family, my friends and my home here in Melbourne in pursuit of my interstate adventure.

Even though Mandelbaum House was founded by the Jewish community of Sydney, it welcomes students from all cultural and religious backgrounds. I am not religious myself, but I am proud of my Jewish heritage and it was important for me to find a place of residence near Sydney University where I would stay connected to my tradition.

As soon as I walked into Mandelbaum House I was greeted with a warm hug from Shana, our college CEO and within the first hour of my arrival, some residents were already showing me around and helping me settle in. They took me under their wing and showed me the college, the uni and the local neighbourhood Newtown. I was even shown where to get the best coffee (but it doesn’t quite compete with Melbourne!).

Mandelbaum House is a residential college at the University of Sydney, it is unique in that it is the smallest college on campus where everyone knows each other. When I had the flu, Shana made sure I had chicken soup to eat – it felt like I was home. And the chefs made a special brew of tea to get me back on track. We are lucky to have meals cooked fresh for us every day and every month we all gather together over a formal dinner where we get the opportunity to hear from our guest speaker over a delicious two-course meal. As a dentistry student the flexibility and convenience of having all our meals provided with even a take-away lunch option available.

One of the things I enjoy most about living at Mandelbaum House is the opportunity to meet students from all over the world. I now have friends from England, America, New Zealand, Germany, India, China and Japan, just to name a few. Living away from home is a liberating, but also a challenging experience at times, so I am truly grateful that I now get to call Mandelbaum House, my home.

By Sonia Vorontsov

One word to strive towards, one word to limit

The residents of Mandelbaum House had the privilege of listening to a highly motivational, witty yet genuinely modest speech by “character” Thomas Whalan at the first formal dinner of Semester 2, 2017. Thomas Whalan is renowned by Australia as a four-time Olympic representative in water polo and currently holds the position of director of Water Polo Australia. Since his last Olympic games in London 2012, Thomas has started 2 businesses, Water Polo by the Sea and Rent a Space Self Storage while continuing his devotion as a loving husband and proud father of 4 children. Despite his extensive list of achievements, Thomas believes his career is not what defines him. Instead, it is his character.

The evening opened with a beautiful piano piece written and performed by resident Zeph Yap which was as gentle as rain. The audience applauded the piece which was revealed to be half improvised and soon after, a delightful dinner of perfectly cooked salmon and wholesome salads was served. Thomas delivered his speech to the residents or as he referred to as “the future leaders” with passion and conviction. He recounted his journey through important milestones and at every moment, enlightened the audience of the life lessons he had learnt. Thomas emphasised the significance of a person’s character by explaining it in a sporting context. “Sport is a metaphor for life,” he stated. An athlete can be exceptionally talented but “if his character cannot keep up with his talent,” he will lose himself. It was clear every person in the room was fully engaged in his words of wisdom. Faces of contemplation were evident on students who used that time to measure their character against their talents.

Thomas continued by further explaining the notion of character through leadership which became the key topic of the speech. Leadership was identified as a valuable quality not only in sport, but in all aspects of life and particularly in relationships. Thomas pointed out how one needs to be “deliberate” like a leader in their approach of pursuing goals and people. This point strongly resonated with me because as a university student, I am swimming in a sea of opportunities which I acknowledge but am not taking deliberate action to seize.

As a graduate of The University of Sydney, Thomas also spoke about his university experience. “Be a student, not an attendee,” he preached. This perfectly phrased concept of active participation however could also be removed from the educational context and applied in everyday life. As humans, we only possess a hungry curiosity for our interests. Thomas, further expanded that if there is something in your life you know is not right for you, something you can only be an “attendee” of, it might be time to seek another path. On the other hand, if there is something you know you will be a life student of, pursue it and it can take you to great places.

The grand ideas and the ultimate goals do not occur overnight. The journey is composed of small steps, ephemeral bi-products such as sweat, scribbles on a page and even tears which lead to the final destination. Thomas neatly proposed we all write one word we will strive towards and one we will try to limit to allow us to reach our goals at the end of his inspiring speech. Mine are “initiative” and “doubt,” what are yours?

By Sandy Chen, Mandelbaum House Resident.

Vice Chancellor Visits Mandelbaum

On Wednesday 3rd of May, Mandelbaum House hosted its third formal dinner of Semester One 2017. As  residents slowly ushered into the dining area that evening, a sense of anticipation could be felt in the room as we had a very special guest speaker joining us for dinner- the Vice-Chancellor of University of Sydney: Dr Michael Spence.

Dr Spence is an alumnus of the University of Sydney, where he graduated with first-class honours in English, Italian and Law. Later he obtained his Doctor of Philosophy and post-graduate diploma in Theology at the Oxford University. Today as Vice-Chancellor, Dr Spence plays a major role of leadership of the University’s strategic planning, as well as maintaining networks between the University and external stakeholder groups. Dr Spence is also a father to seven whom he spoke about fondly over our meal at Mandelbaum House.

As Chef Robert and his team served the delicious dinner, our talented residents Stella and Kartik enticed the room with musical item ‘Clair de Lune’, a French Classical piece that musically described the ‘light of the moon’. Throughout dinner, Dr Spence happily conversed with students and with genuine curiosity, he asked students about life at Mandelbaum House as the college holding Jewish values. We discussed topics ranging from politics to international student wellbeing. As we continued to chat, we also found out that Dr Spence had just returned a business trip from India, where he met with the Prime Minister and Education Minister of the country. He is a busy man indeed.

The address topic of the night was on ‘Disagreeing Well’. Dr Spence elaborated on the challenges the University faces in order to respect every individual’s human agency and autonomy and the University’s many differing voices. As the night progressed, he encouraged for us to have a dialogue, where he expressed that he would also like student opinions and inputs in regard to current events concerning the University as discussed in his speech.

Earlier this year, the University partnered with the Sydney Jewish Museum to provide training and workshops in ethical leadership for student leaders from across campus. Mandelbaum residents participated in this workshop which used historic examples of racial discrimination to reveal the danger of prejudiced attitudes and behaviour. This also examined the role unconscious bias plays in leadership and decision making. Dialogue with the university is ongoing and training for the wider student community is being implemented to help build a safer and more inclusive university free from sexual harassment, bullying, racism and discrimination.

Overall, for us as Mandelbaum residents, this formal dinner consisted of great food, and great company during a packed and stressful stage of the semester. This formal dinner also unveiled the establishment of the Mandelbaum House Vice-Chancellor Prize, in honour of the visit of Dr Spence. The prize will be awarded next semester based on merit to an outstanding resident.

By Lucy Lu, Mandelbaum House resident

‘Grandchild of a slave and child of a refugee’

One of the highlights in the Mandelbaum calendar is the monthly Formal Dinner. We were delighted to welcome back A/Professor Lilon Bandler to be our guest speaker for our first 2017 dinner. The evening began with a fantastic musical performance by  residents Chelsea and Kartik. During the introduction, we learnt that Lilon was a GP locum for the Royal Flying Doctor Service and has worked in general practice for many years.  She is also an academic at the University of Sydney and is responsible for curriculum development and implementation in Indigenous health education, ensuring learning and teaching by all medical students.

Lilon identified herself as the ‘grandchild of a slave and child of a refugee’. Even though her mother, Faith Bandler, is well known as the famous Australian civil rights activist who ran the NSW campaign for the 1967 Aboriginal referendum, she shared with us her father’s life course to encourage us to enjoy the process of being educated.

Her father was an Austrian  born Jew raised in Vienna and sent to Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps. In order to flee and have a new life, her father’s aunt bribed people for his successful release, with a German typewriter and a ring and he took his younger half-brother and sadly needed to leave him in an orphanage in London. He eventually arrived to Australia as a refugee, and settled down in Sydney, as a civil engineer after local skill training.  She emphasized that her father’s experience had a huge influence on her: not only contributing to noticing the fact that culture was embedded in the consciousness so that people comprehend the context of time, history and geography; but also realised the significance of culture, for it explained a person’s identity and motivation.

The college residents were asked to think about what would they take with them if they have to leave home immediately. Although there would have been so many potential choices and no absolute correct answer, Lilon shared her point of view that education is crucial, for no one can take it from you. She extended the definition of education, not merely the degree you undertook at school, but the solid skill or habit you learned from your family, your friend, and even your enemies.  Lilon’s father proved this by building their house in Sydney based on his trained skill, and then applied his knowledge in helping construct Sydney’s city water supply system.

‘It does not even matter whether your choice is right or wrong’, said Lilon, ‘as long as you bring your education, you will be able to have a brand new start.’ Just like what her father did, continuously renewing his understanding of education, you can escape from the past and learn something new in the present, and embrace the unknown but convertible future. Lilon herself is the best practitioner for those words, which is admirable because she has been on her unique pathway to know how she takes her place in this society, as a guide for students and a lifelong fighter for people who live a less privileged life.

By Crystal Xu, Mandelbaum resident

Photo credit: Naihan Nith and Kyle Fan

Study Abroad made easy!

Are you coming to Sydney for one semester on a Study Abroad or Exchange programme? Make the most of your experience and live with Aussies and other Internationals with the convenience of a friendly community, and a delicious meal plan. Study Abroad student Ariel Hurwitz shares her recent experience:

Living at Mandelbaum was basically like being adopted into a home for a semester. From the first moment to the final goodbye, the community was warm and supportive. Affectionately referred to as “Mandy” or “the Baum”, the Mandelbaum house offers exchange students the opportunity to meet and live with locals and other exchange/international students. Before signing up however, there are a few things to consider about the Mandelbaum house.

First, the community is small. The people you will meet at Mandy will become your friends and you will see them often. There are people who choose to be less involved in the Mandelbaum community, which is fine, but people will know about you regardless. Drama is an inevitable part of a student living arrangement. The cleaning and kitchen staff will see you after a big night out and will be able to make speculations about you based on a simple analysis of your trash. Luckily, they’re wonderful people.

Second- the Jew thing. Yes, the Mandelbaum house is a Jewish college. Yes you will eat kosher and you will acclimate to it. Yes you will learn about Jewish holidays and about Jewish culture. No, you will not be constantly harangued with Jewish doctrine, Jewish customs, or even Jewish people. The Mandelbaum house is possibly one of the most diverse places I’ve ever lived. The demographic transcends country, racial, ethnic and most other social strata- it’s part of what makes the community so special. So don’t be worried about that.

Third, the location is fabulous.  Situated a block away from Newtown (where you want to be) and right next to campus, you’re never too far from anything exciting. There are a lot of things to do in Sydney and you should take the time to explore as much of it as possible. Luckily the house is a quick walk from a train station and multiple bus stops. Don’t forget that the University is huge, which means taking a couple extra minutes those first few days to find your classes. Unless your classes are in the brand new business building in which case you have about a 3-minute walk to class.

Finally, the kitchen is fabulous. There are always snacks out and the chefs make every possible accommodation for students. Compared to other living arrangements, it is much more convenient to have a meal prepared for you than learning to budget, find the best grocery stores around Sydney (and carry your groceries back home), and cook yourself an enjoyable meal.

If you want to live in a small, loving and fun community, apply to Mandelbaum! Your study abroad experience will be fun no matter what, but as I learned, a comfortable living arrangement can really ease stress when balancing travel, school and whatever else you decide to do with your study abroad trip. Don’t forget to have fun out there.

By Ariel Hurwitz, Mandelbaum Resident

Best Kept Travel Secret

Everyone has their ‘go to’ starting point when searching for travel accommodation. Some keep it simple and shoot an email to their trusted travel agent. Others go on the hunt, which today goes way beyond the conventional hotels, motels and hostels. A search on Google or Airbnb opens up glorious options such as lighthouses, treehouses, yurts, windmills and even wagons – oh my!

There is, however, also a stealth option that some in-the-know travellers would prefer be kept quiet. It’s available during peak summer holiday periods, centrally located in major cities, affordable, and well connected to public transport, restaurants, and shops. It’s not honeymoon-level luxury but it is ideal for travellers wanting somewhere simple, clean and safe to stay. This untapped resource is the residential colleges of universities across Australia and the world.

In Australia, residential colleges operate at full capacity during the university academic year, which is from mid-February to the end of November. This leaves 12 weeks of vacant rooms in some of the most enviable city areas. For example, the University of Sydney is located at the edge of the Sydney CBD. It neighbours two of the most vibrant suburbs in the city – Newtown and Glebe, which boast the best restaurants, cafes, and nightlife in town. The architecture in these neighbourhoods is charming and they’re full of hidden gems such as small galleries, markets, parks, quirky bookshops and contemporary performance spaces such as Carriageworks. Staying at one of the colleges here puts you in the heart of the heartbeat of Sydney. It’s also an easy walk to the CBD with multiple options for public transport to connect to the harbour or beaches. As prices in Sydney soar for NYE celebrations, the Sydney Festival and other big summer events, the colleges are an amazingly affordable option.

Residential colleges are not just available to students or academics. They attract a range of guests including holidaymakers, summer interns, groups, conference delegates, and backpackers. Travelling on a budget doesn’t have to mean being squeezed into a bunk room with a random foot dangling from the bunk above. Many colleges offer rooms with en-suites and academic apartments which are ideal for families, as well as the standard student rooms with shared bathrooms.

If the idea of this style of accommodation has piqued your interest, the next step is to Google “residential college” and the city name. Some colleges take direct bookings while others are managed by external agents.

It may not be as winsome as a windmill, but it will provide you with a comfortable, central, and cost-effective stay for your next holiday.

By Shana Kerlander. Shana is the CEO of Mandelbaum House, a boutique residential college located at the University of Sydney. She is also a passionate traveller and has worked as a tour guide in Europe and on cruise ships in the South Pacific.

The Final Frontier – Needs You!

The second formal dinner of semester two started off with a beautiful rendition by resident Darron Ho of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep on his Chinese Violin, or Erhu.

As guest speaker for the night we were honoured to welcome Kim Ellis, Final Frontier lawyer and scientist, founder of Earth Space Technology and adjunct faculty member with the International Space University.

Kim has received multiple accolades and awards, including the Endeavour Executive Award for international cooperation at the NASA Kennedy Space Centre. Fortunately for us, she also happens to be the mother of Thomas Ellis, President of the Resident Society at Mandelbaum House. 

In her speech Kim proposed that our main problem as a species is that the ‘critical tipping point’ we’ve reached is a result of our own careless actions. Focusing on the effects of our carelessness on space, she described how the destruction of the Earth’s orbit due to an exponential increase in amounts of space debris and environmental degradation coupled with a throwaway mentality poses potential risks of collision for government and commercial space operations – which is what her PhD thesis centres on. This collision risk has far-reaching social effects as well, affecting change and access in ways that in turn affect national security, weather forecasting, and data positioning. She emphasised the need for young people to take positive action towards ensuring the sustainability of future generations, and suggested that relocating to another planet like Mars – if that’s even possible – isn’t the best idea until we fix the problems we’ve caused in our current home.

Bringing the discussion back to our immediate interests, Kim led us through an interactive goal-setting exercise, used by many members of the space community, which one resident aptly described as a ‘time capsule’ for goals. She addressed the issue that troubles the overworked, dazed and confused university student: their career. She reassured us that not knowing what you want out of your career should not be a cause of concern just yet. We could not have asked for a better motivational speaker than one who experienced her own rocky start to finding a passion worth waiting for.

 By Karishma Luthria, Mandelbaum resident

Returning Home

Walking into Mandelbaum House for its latest reunion on Thursday night brought back so many memories for me. I remember arriving as a 19-year-old from California who had never been to Australia, getting out of the taxi from the airport nervously and wondering what awaited me.
Fifteen years later, I am living in Sydney and about to become an Australian citizen. I doubt I would have ended up settling in Australia if I hadn’t had such a wonderful community experience during my semester abroad at the University of Sydney.
It was fantastic that the same sense of community was on display from the current students and more recent alumni at the reunion.
The trivia game was a great mixer. My team had so much diversity, including current student Ruby, alumni organiser Audrey from New Caledonia who had been at Mandelbaum at the same time as me and another alum, David, who was originally from Argentina but had also settled in Australia.


Returning to Mandelbaum reminded me of how close-knit a group it had been in my time, whether we were playing pool or ping-pong, watching a movie, listening to a guest lecture, eating at a formal dinner or hosting a party. Looking at the bulletin board near the dining area, it is clear that little has changed 15 years later.
I know most Mandelbaum alumni live outside Sydney. I am Facebook friends with many who were there with me in 2001 and they live all around Australia, North America, and Asia. But I do hope as many as possible from my year and all of the other ones can return for a planned 21st reunion next year and share in the memories.

By Jamie Freed, Mandelbaum House resident 2001

On The Temple Trail

Semester 2 at Mandelbaum House started in style with a seamless blend of intellectual conversation, music and banter at our welcome dinner.

Having been here for only over a week, I’m fascinated by how quickly Mandelbaum transitioned from being simply a dorm to my home in Sydney.

Current residents, Kartik and Yash set the mood with their powerful yet soothing cover of Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud. Dinner table conversation included – but was definitely not limited to – grandmas who knit, heavy metal and how Donald Trump is menacing modern American democracy (I’m looking at your table, American exchange students).

Then it was Back to the Future time for resident Benjamin Leadbetter, who visited his big brother here aged 10 (or was it 14?) and now joined us in welcoming Michael Leadbetter back as the night’s guest speaker. Michael graduated with First Class Honours in Archaeology in 2014 and is now working towards a Masters. He has won multiple accolades, such as the 2015 National Archaeology Conference award for best Masters Research and best overall Postgraduate Research, and made his international academic debut earlier this year with a presentation at Oxford University’s Project Southeast Asia Conference.

Michael told us about his fascination with Angkor, ‘the biggest city of the ancient world’, which flourished from the 8th century CE before being abandoned in the early 14th century. The Greater Angkor Project analyses the spatial, climatic and social transitions the region faced during and after that time. We learned that 50 years of drought and a massive mega-monsoon contributed to the simultaneous collapses of Angkor and other cities in the region while smaller communities managed to survive. Highlighting the link between climate studies and archaeology, Michael explained that volcanoes affect not only the local but also the global community through sulphur dioxide releases, possible tsunamis and global dimming.

The contemporary parallels were impossible to miss: more and more people are living in ever larger cities, thereby endangering the resources we are going to need in the future, irrespective of technological advantages. Archaeological evidence spanning thousands of years of humans living with climate change reveals the types of behaviours that lead to sustainability and those that lead to failure in the face of climate disaster. To survive the era of climate change that we’re now entering, we need to consider the past.

Informative, thought-provoking and entertaining, the evening was an inspiring way to kick off the rest of the academic year.

By Kari  Luthria, Mandelbaum resident

 

 

Mandelbaum is more than just a house … It’s my home

What’s the difference between a ‘house’ and a ‘home’? A house is a building or structure that someone resides in, whereas a home is a place where a person not only lives but also feels a true sense of belonging. For many university students, this sense of belonging is increasingly difficulty to find.

My initial motives for moving to Mandelbaum House this year were necessity and convenience. I was living in a share house in Randwick and thoroughly enjoying the independence it gave me. But with full-time uni, volunteering and part-time work on my plate, I was finding it tricky to balance household responsibilities with all my other commitments. Moving into Mandelbaum enabled me to live closer to university and took away the mundane stresses of household chores. Not having to worry about the food shopping, preparation, cooking and cleaning has given me more time to invest in my real interests.

 

What I didn’t anticipate was the fantastic community aspect. As residents we don’t just sit back and receive the benefits of the college; instead we’re collectively empowered to make our college our own. Groups of us get together each week to actively shape the culture of the college in different domains – food, culture and academic activities, to name just a few. A regular feature of Mandelbaum life is hosting themed dinners. We’re given a budget and take turns deciding on the dress-up theme and the decorations, while the college chefs create on-theme menus. Highlights for me this year have been the St Patrick’s Day, Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day), and Game of Thrones dinners.

We’re also grateful to have events organised by the college staff, who invite incredible speakers and put on fantastic formal dinners. Most recently we were privileged to hear from Eddie Jaku, an inspirational Holocaust survivor who left a lasting impression on the way we appreciate everyday life. We also drew inspiration and knowledge from other speakers this semester, including Professor Tyrone M Carlin (Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Registrar at the University of Sydney) and Nastasia Campanella , a journalist and newsreader for the ABC who is blind. In exchange for the valuable insights these speakers bring to us, we try to return the favour in our own unique ways. Some students perform musical pieces; others read poems or share a few words in honour of our guests’ presence at these events.

Most importantly, Mandelbaum is a place where, no matter how far away I travel or how long I’m gone, I can walk through the front door and be greeted with happy smiles and friendly, familiar faces. We’re one big family – and this is where I feel home.

By Gina Abramowitz, Mandelbaum Resident