Lose the roommate: College life in America and abroad

Kayla Brown/Staff

Upon going to Greece and checking out various colleges at the tender age of 15, I realized something weird: Greek universities don’t really have dorms, and college students there often don’t have roommates. Yet, these aspects of college life are such common practice in American schools like UC Berkeley. The question that emerges out of these observations is obvious: what is the meaning of this discrepancy?

Greek colleges, such as Athens University of Economics and Business, don’t seem to have as much of a cohesive sense of campus life as Berkeley does. There’s a lack of common living spaces, a dearth of clubs and no meme page (as far as I can tell). This makes Greek universities (similar to most other European universities) more centered around a particular city than around a particular campus. In this way, European universities promote individuality — but at the expense of a sense of community.

Perhaps this is because of a cultural difference. In Greece and in most of Europe, the drinking age is lower, while in America, the coddling of children is prominent, and people are packed like sardines into apartments and frat houses. There’s one other explanation: the differences in the conception of college. In an American context, university is a place to discover your passion, make connections with peers and embark on a rewarding (if self-indulgent) journey of soul-searching. In a Greek context, students aren’t necessarily expecting to have that same experience. They go into college not knowing what a breadth course is. Once they arrive at university, their class schedule and post-college career plan is fairly straightforward.

By now, you’ve probably already decided which college system you prefer, American or European.  Whatever your preference, there’s no doubt that your college experience is very different depending upon where you attend. We at the Clog think that regardless of where you attend, UC Berkeley is still the best university around.

Contact Melany Dillon at [email protected].