Hello, world! (Suzanne)
Hi there. I’m Suzanne, and I’ll be your official clarinet playing sort-of-from-Hong-Kong Music/Law student representative for the First Year Blog 2007!
Although perhaps ‘representative’ isn’t the best word for it, given how it implies that I’m actually going to represent someone else. There are a grand total of four first year music/law students on campus, one of whom technically isn’t even a first year because she transferred from music/arts. We form a grand total of 0.01% of the student population. There are only 20-ish clarinetists in a music faculty of 700. And while there is quite a significant presence of Hong Kong students, there are very few students who are sort-of-from-Hong-Kong. In other words, I have nobody to represent but myself.
Why, you ask, am I sort-of-from-Hong-Kong, and not just straight out ‘from Hong Kong’? Well, I was born in Sydney, and am a naturalised Australian citizen, and therefore I’m officially a local student — I pay local HECs fees, I applied here through VTAC, I don’t go to international O-week activities, and nobody questions my ability to speak English or makes me take the English proficiency tests. On the other hand, culturally, I am firmly an international student — I haven’t set foot in this country in over 10 years, having moved to Hong Kong when I was nine, and having spent a significant amount of time living in Beijing and Sweden before then. The anthropologists call kids like me TCKs, or Third Culture Kids, a term which refers to the phenomenon where a child who has spent time living in many countries develops a cultural identity which is in one sense an amalgamation of, but in another sense completely separated from, the cultural identity of each of the countries they have lived in.
Despite the fact that I spent half my life (I’m 18 now) in Hong Kong, I do not speak a word of Cantonese, which is the dominant (but not the official) language spoken in Hong Kong. I went to an international school which taught in English, where I graduated with the International Baccalaureate Diploma, and my parents are from Beijing and therefore speak Mandarin. I’m bilingual in Mandarin and English, but my literacy in Mandarin is equivalent to that of a not-particularly-bright 10 year old, so English is really my first language even though I learned it after Mandarin.
I chose to study music/law because my ultimate goal in life is to make it in classical music as a professional clarinet player, eminent composer/ethnomusicologist (think Bartok or Kodaly), and/or conductor. Unfortunately, the chances of succeeding at my ultimate goal in life is smaller than the percentage of music/law students in the student body of the University of Melbourne. That’s where the law degree comes in: my backup life goal is to work in forensic musicology (determining whether a piece of music is guilty of copyright infringement), arts administration, or music journalism, all of which are areas where a law degree might come in handy. I’m also incredibly ambitious and I enjoy a good intellectual challenge, which is another reason why I added the law component in.
I live in Janet Clarke Hall, one of the residential colleges on campus (it’s the little one between Trinity and Ormond which nobody ever seems to know about), which I adore to bits. In my spare time, I play clarinet, compose, read, swim, sing in choirs, and bake cookies, although admittedly I haven’t done any of that except the clarinet since I came here. I have odd music tastes — if you’d like to discuss polytonality in Stravinsky’s ballets, or the Masonic influences in the sacred music of Mozart, or the merits of the Indian raga system vs. traditional European equal temperament, or whether Ella Fitzgerald does a better interpretation of a jazz standard than Sarah Vaughn, I’m the person to see. If, however, you ask me anything about Britney Spears, or Led Zeppelin, or whoever it is on the radio nowadays, I will stare at you blankly for a while, try to figure out where I might have heard the name before, and then change the topic. I love Broadway musicals, cuddly toys, cold rainy weather, dessert, and the poetry of Sylvia Plath. Emily was my favourite Bronte sister, although I’m also fairly partial to Charlotte’s work.
I own 32 pairs of socks, 12 of which I brought to Melbourne. And that is all you need to know about me for now. Thank you, and goodnight.
EDIT: OK, before I go, anyone know why my course doesn’t show up underneath my name, and how I change this?
EDIT2: Oh. Right. That way. Nevermind, I’m an idiot.