Miss Aida
NAAUC. National Australian Association of University Colleges.

I'm in Perth, attending this great conference of approximately 200 plus delegates. 200 plus interesting, witty, supremely confident bunch of college kids with a tendency to play as hard as they work, if not more, which seems to be a major characteristic of all Australian colleges. I admit feeling a bit out of my depth being surrounded by all these executive student clubs/Resident Advisors of the different colleges in Australia, me being nothing more than a token Asian fresher. Perhaps roped in to give an international perspective.

As always, Perth is beautiful and despite the current bad weather, it's a hell lot better than Melbourne. The conference is really well-organized so far and they've got an impressive line-up of speakers. The premier of Western Australia, among other speakers with distinguished backgrounds and leaders in their own fields. I have to admit enjoying most of the talks so far, the speakers have been phenomenal in presenting their particular topics. The discussion groups I've attended have been excellent so far, despite me coming out of them feeling thankful that Ormond has never had to go through some of the shocking problems the other colleges have talked about.

A 70s disco. No one can resist those good old oldies on the dance floor, like ABBA or the Bee Gees. Afros were the thing of the night. Open shirts. Bell bottoms. Glitz and glitter. Sunglasses (despite the fact that it was late night)! It was pretty fun - and I've got the goddamn blisters to prove it.

And of course, the people. Amazing people. I shouldn't be surprised, considering that many of them are chosen leaders from their respective colleges, a vibrant mix of the people who show everyone else what college spirit is about! I've talked to so many interesting people so far. A shame that we don't really have a chance to sit down and have a bit of a group session going on, get to know each other a little better... but oh well. And these amazing people come in with big dreams. Dreams of wanting to make their own colleges better, to improve the college experience back home. I'm surrounded in a room of dreamers... with the motivation to make things a reality. And that's a pretty powerful experience.

Sitting in the parliament of WA and standing up to make a point pertaining to one of the debates was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Public speaking is not my forte. It was a room full of opiniated college students, who weren't afraid of speaking up to personally oppose an idea. It had been a bit of a madhouse, despite the serious situation and the formalities of Parliament observed, it was all very light, with members making comments that ranged from the personal to many sexual connotations. I remember one chick standing up in the debate of male versus female club presidents and support the male side by sharing her experience as a fresher. I quote, "We had a male president in our first year and I found it a very... filling experience." The guy behind me nearly fell over the railing trying to get a look at the saucy minx.

I wanted to be heard, but very much lack the courage to talk in front of so many. However, during the debate of unisex toilets being an invasion of privacy, and no one said what I wanted to say, I somehow found the courage to stand up and point out that for Muslim women, who guard their physical modesty by convering up, a shared bathroom would be a bit of a pain. I have to admit my voice shook a bit. Yet, at the end of that 20-second spiel, I got a general 'hear hear' from the majority. Sweet relief.

I've always found it hard to talk to strangers. Talk to people I don't know. Hard to talk in public. And yet I challenge this over and over again by putting myself in certain circumstances that force me to work on my social skills. I've yet to figure out the friends I'm going to make from this... but I'll enjoy the effort.
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