Four ways American college is just like the movies

September 28, 2016
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If you’ve ever cursed your uni for not having an a cappella crew like in Pitch Perfect or dreamed of going to raging uni parties hosted by guys that look like Zac Efron in Neighbours, there’s no doubt you’ve been painted a pretty delicious picture of what college life is like in the US.

How accurate could it be though? Hollywood is the master of exaggeration, right?

Well, after spending five weeks at one of America’s famous Ivy League schools, I am happy to tell you there’s some things the film industry has got very right. These are the four ways college is just like you the movies.

Red cups and Frat bros

The party lifestyle in America is overflowing with clichés. First of all, they happen a lot! Whether it’s in your dorm room or a Frat house or a parking lot or on the lawn outside of the law building (some campuses are ‘wet’ and permit you to drink anywhere on school grounds), they can happen anywhere and anytime.

They’re full of red cups, plenty of weird Fraternity/Sorority traditions and of course, beer pong. There’s lots and lots of beer pong.

University pride

I don’t know about you, but from my experience here in Australia, the only people who wear university branded clothing are the international students, or those desperately scraping the very bottom of their wardrobe before they have no absolutely choice but to do their washing. Bottom line - it’s not exactly a socially accepted fashion choice.

In the States however, the patriotism you have for your university comes second only to that which you hold for your country. This means everyone has got some kind of uni branding on them at any given time. Whether it’s a jumper or a pen or a literally anything you can slap an emblem on - the way people talk about their school makes you want to wear this stuff! Considering most students live and spend most of their time on campus, college quickly becomes the thing they centre their whole lives around. It can be a lot of fun to get involved in - just don’t suggest a rival school is better than theirs!

Kind of a big deal

This one is somewhat a lesson of gratitude that we Aussie students should really take on board. I think we sometimes forget how lucky we are to live in a country that has tertiary education so readily available to us.

You know how there’s all those underdog films that see students working their butts off in high school to get a scholarship to go to college? The ones where they finally get their acceptance letter and everyone’s screaming and crying and it’s the happiest day of their lives? Well, because in America university is crazy expensive.

I know we complain about our rising fees but let me tell you, American college fees dwarf ours and worst of all, they don’t have government assisted financial options like our HECS debts. Getting to university is almost exclusively available to the wealthy or the athletically inclined who are rewarded with scholarships, so if you do get there, it’s a really big deal.

The elephant in the room

Now, for all the hype, rumours and tall tales we hear and see about the American University experience, there’s one we really wish wasn’t so horrendously true. That is, the high occurrence of sexual assault incidences.

The most recent data indicates that one in five female and one in 16 male students are sexually assaulted on their college campuses. The numbers themselves are enough to make you sick, but the reality of it all becomes far harsher when you talk to the young women who tell you how many girls in their personal friend group alone are victims of such crimes.

Like anything that’s portrayed in movies or the media, there are exciting truths, glamourised normalities and hushed horrors within its reality.

Marlee Silva

Marlee is currently on a one year break from studying Politics/Creative Writing at UOW. She loves her two dogs like they're her children and has recently overcome a fear of avocados (it's a texture thing).

Image: 21 and Over official Facebook Page