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