Thursday, 14 June 2018
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I remember when I first came to visit the UQ colleges for campus tours back in the middle of 2014. It was already on that afternoon that I had my heart set on going to Cromwell. I knew that it was the right place for me.

Back in my day, Cromwell withheld the offers of acceptance into the college until we were offered a place at university during the first offer rounds. It felt like time was dragging by as I, not-so-patiently, waited for January 15th. When the day finally came, I was much more excited about my offered place at the college than I was about my acceptance into UQ!

I was a bit nervous on Fresher Sunday, which looking back now, I know I did not have to be. The O-Week program, which was put on by the leadership team, was so jam-packed and exciting that I didn't even have a chance to give my Mum a call nearly all week. She had to call me herself to make sure I was still alive, and it was obvious that I had settled in exceedingly well.

Life at Cromwell was not only a conveniently close place in which to stay while at uni. Yes, it was possible to roll out of bed at 9:25am, grab a cheeky hash brown (or three), which Matthew and the kitchen staff would reliably provide each morning, and stroll into uni wearing socks and thongs, all the while still being on time to your 10am lecture. But life at Cromwell was so much more than that. Cromwell gave me the opportunity to become passionate in sports, such as rowing, or cultural events, such as One Act Play, which I would not have had the chance to take part in before. Before college, I would never have imagined dancing or singing in front of a big crowd, and then I found myself taking part in Dancefest and Choralfest for a third time.

I went from being an unknowing fresher, to an O-Week committee member in my second year, helping to integrate the new group of students. I found myself in situations such as purchasing bizarre items requested by DJs, when helping out with Bunker as a social committee member or having the opportunity to travel to Sydney to attend the annual NAAUC conference on behalf of the college. With the busy academic, sporting, cultural and social life at Cromwell, it wasn’t long before I approached my third year at the college. As the RA of Top Dowling, I got to experience the college from a slightly new perspective. I had the pleasure of providing friendship and advice to ten awesome girls, as well as enforcing the noise curfew when being woken up at 2am by the rowdy boys downstairs. To finish off my time at college, I had the honour of being awarded the Cromwell College Medal.

For three years I lived in TD, and in the “Cromwell Bubble”, where getting steak knives and common room fans in my second year, or the new pineapple juice and apple-guava juice in my third year were the latest breaking news. The most recent kills in Sock Assassin, the new frequently available poached eggs in second year or the new basil pesto in third year were the talk of the college. I witnessed the creation of Cromwellness Week in my second year, and the slow transition of people wearing thongs to Birks around the college. I lived through the loss of social events, such as second semester bunker, but the addition of new ones, such as Completion. I even got to experience Shannon Noll emerging from the Crommy kitchen during Cultural Dinner in my second year. 

Despite the changes made to the buildings with new bathrooms, windows, stage lights and a renovated late meals area, the sense of home and community never changed. Cromwell was a great support network for me, and one of the places where I felt most at home.

Although, I am no longer a resident at Cromwell, they have not managed to scare me off yet! I am currently working as a non-residential staff back up (once again experiencing the life at Cromwell from another perspective), whilst completing my Honours year of a Bachelor of Psychological Science at UQ. Living with two other old Cromwellians, it is clear that although I have had to burst my “Bubble” and experience life outside of Cromwell, the friendships I formed and the experiences I have had whilst at college are for life.

Warm regards,
Jannikka “Prebound” Balko (2015 - 2017)