I’m going to tell you about a place of the weird and the wonderful; where the beach is the front yard and Mt Keira is the back. You leave your shoes at the door and wander around the house barefoot; a playground for all. This is Wollongong, make yourself at home.
As voted the happiest city in Australia in 2014 the University of Wollongong, is home to thousands of students; local, inter-state, outer state and international and boasting a vibe only known to those that come to experience it.
Over a year ago I made an impulsive decision: two months into my first year of uni and out of all things I chose to move out of home and live on campus.
Best. Decision. Ever.
I continue to say the exact three words to everyone who asks me how it is to live in Wollongong let alone on campus. Although I have never tried the whole walking around barefoot scene, and I have no idea how to surf or skate, it has never discouraged me from trying new things and accepting the fact that I am an adult and make all the rules.
When a mate of mine randomly stuck a “We Love the Gong” sticker on my street sign in the Western Suburbs around four years ago I thought nothing of it. Now I find myself ‘hash tagging’ the slogan in every instagram post relating to anything when I’m in Wollongong, A place where culture isn’t a trend of some sort, it’s a lifestyle of changing characters. It’s acceptance of the unusual, appreciation of the sheer fact that we live in an incredible environment physically, and would like to match it with positive personalities.
Parking my car at the lighthouse overlooking the beach to do my readings became a habit, climbing Mount Keira and realising that my phone had more reception than when I was on uni grounds was hilarious, and being chased by ducks across the lawn was scary but nevertheless thrilling. A Saturday night out was replaced by a Wednesday or Thursday and consisted of cheap alcohol and a retro playlist that never changed. You never forget the chants on the free bus into town and back bagging the shit out of each accommodation campus. All was dandy of course when you got your hangover feed at Chicko’s the next day.
Wollongong offers you the materials; it gives you the tools as an adult to be the builder of yourself and your environment, but you can also be a risk taker and have nothing to lose because there will always be something else. I like a challenge, I like balance, I would like it if I could succeed at them both on a surf board, but for now; I definitely like my choices and all the shenanigans that are yet to come.