Wednesday, March 29

O Week

I've never really gotten into the O Week thing, in fact, I couldn't tell you, apart from a tour of the campus for first year students, a single thing that happens in O Week at my university.

I remember the first day I went to uni, the four of us from my high school who were accepted into my uni all packed into the one car and went along to check out exactly what uni was about. I don't recall much except my excitement at the handing out of free beer in the quadrangle, and my cringing at the tour guide, and introductory host both making a similar joke along the lines of 'yeah, beer, wow, cool, yeah man, beer - we drink it a lot, you'll get used to that.'

Beer, we get it.

There's nothing remarkable about this apart from the fact that I never spoke to any of the people in that car at uni again, athough I specifically remember avoiding walking past one of them once, possibly twice. During first week I drive to uni on my own now, and sit in traffic behind cars of three or four first year students, brimming with excitement. During forth week the traffic is considerably less.

Am I missing out on something here? To me it has always seemed like in order to be part of it, I would have to attend university for the better part of another week prior to the begining of the semester proper. No dice.

Wednesday, March 22

University Life Glossary Term #15

Sleeper Cell

Cells in the blood stream that attack the central nevous system during a lecture, forcing a student to fall asleep despite the discomfort of sitting upright in an uncomfortable chair.

Likely to attack at the most embarrasing moment, such as when the student is sitting in the front row.*

Despite the rumoured benefits of stimulants such ascoffee, there is no known cure for Sleeper Cells.

(* Happened on Monday, sitting barely two metres from the lecturer.)

Tin, Tin, Tin for The Student!

The year has started pretty well, by all accounts - tutes have been attended, lecture notes taken, vast swathes of knowledge taken in.

But attending univesity in Mebourne has a higher degree of difficulty than other cities, as in March we get hit with a pile of events that take up your free time (your study time) outside of work and uni contact hours.

Ordinarily it's just the start of the football season, and festivals such as the annual comedy festival, but this year we've had the mother of all festivals - 11 days of Australia obliterating all comers at the Commonwealth Games.

I can think of no other instance in which I would want to spend an afternoon watching badminton, however that's what I did last Thursday, and have laziliy day dreamed about doing each day since. In fact, keen observers of yesterday's match between Australia and South Africa in the women's hockey were aparently treated to images of an increasingly sunburnt me watching the girls hand out autographs following the match.

How many people can say they have watched Trinidad and Tobago take on Singapore in table tennis? How about Uganda destroying Tonga in the Rugby 7's? Northen Ireland's dynamic Topping brothers defeating a Sri Lankan pairing in the men's doubles Badminton?

Yesterday morning I sipped coffee and rubbed tiredness from my eyes after spending all night finishing an assignment, while sitting in the stands and watching the men's pairs lawn bowls, between the noble lawn bowling nations of Australia and Fiji. One of the Canadian mens pairs team on the next rink was sporting the sort of pirate like bandana that would have seen him equally at home on the bowls green and the high seas.

All of this happened while my Stats lecture went on without me.

In order to make up for the shortfall in free time during the day I'm pushing the note taking and weekly text reading deep into the night, leaving me tired the next day, creating the sort of cycle of tiredness that is going to see me sleep for half of next week... of course by then the Games will be over, so that's okay.

Monday, March 13

I am as sorry as you are, Dimitri!

Before the lecturer arrives for the lecture, a stereotypically dressed young student revolutionary arrives and addresses the class.

In order to encourage us to come along to a free lecture his group is holding, he tells us about the civil unrest that has recently befallen the sunny latin American nation of Venezuela.

During his piece, he utters the phrase, "Venezuela is next on American hit list after Iran." My initial response is a mixture of 'huh?' and 'what?'. Apart from the massive breach of US central intelligence it would be for this cliche Green Left Weekly reading student revolutionary to actually have access to this 'hit list', I briefly couldn't comprehend why the U.S. would bother with Venezuela.

Iran is busying itself with the sort of nuclear energy program that only a lovable rogue nation like Iran cheekily persist with, hence America's more than passing interest in the affairs of the state. But Venezuela?

America has Venezuela at Number Two? At this stage I'm beginning to see George C. Scott sitting around an oval table in Dr. Strangelove's war room, "I sure wish WE had one of those Doomsday Machines." What could the U.S. possibly want with tropical Venezuela?

Perhaps the U.S. wants to harness the nation's seemingly unlimited supply of Miss World, and Miss Universe winners, with the nation holding five and four sashes respectively. This would allow America to more effectively fight it's long running and post 9/11, War on Ugly.

After a few moments I remembered that Venezuela is one of the worlds largest exporters of crude oil, and the sole South American member of OPEC - kind of like that guy in the Backstreet Boys.

Friday, March 10


Tutes! Tute for three of my four subjects started this week, and boy what excitement and merriment they caused.

Long time readers of treading water, or the tread for those streetwise readers, will be aware of my on-again off-again relationship with stats. Well it's finally working out for me and stats, with me actually losing my stats tutorial virginity this week.

I'm glad to say it didn't hurt a bit - I went all the way and it was great.

I showed up with all my work done, took notes, corrected ogives, fabulous.

The tutes are fairly stand and deliver, leaving me little room for witty character analysis of my fellow students, however there are three guys with 'celebrity hair' in the front row who are sure to keep me entertained with their ongoing 'ohmigawd Steve, that's maaad' behaviour. And there is the guy, replete in shredded adidas tracksuit pants, which I sat next to, who wrote out the calculations and answers to all the set questions during the tute.

I guess we'll see how that works out for him, but my tip is for me to continue bagging him on here for the next 14 weeks, if only to enhance my feelings of superiority.

My international ethics tute is taken by the lecturer, who is pretty good. About 10 minutes into the tute, one of the guys with celebrity hair from the Stats tute walked in asking if this was an 'um, accounting tute'. Briefly I was able to relive past Arts student glories, as I joined in the laugh of a combined group of Arts students, desperate for any small victory we could take over those Business students, with their degrees that can actually get them a job, bastards.

I'm actually really enjoying this subject so far; although I am suffering from the flashbacks to a Philosophy course I took way, way back in 2003. Ethics is a classic 'there is no right answer' course, which is almost similar to Philosophy, which is a classic 'there is one right wrong answer' course. Highlights of that course included the tutor saying, 'But what if I say the sky is green?' and me being unable to open my mind beyond the simple point: 'but it isn't."

More on the Ethics tute in another post.

I managed to be late for the political culture tutorial, being unable to find the room and having to talk myself through a small of anxiety at having to walk in late in front of the tute group. I missed the tutor's spiel about what her PhD subject is, but was able to garner from the 45 minutes of tutor led discussion that it related in some massive way to the Aboriginal people of this fine land.

We've scored another exceedingly old mature aged student in this class, who may very well have received the baton from the object of Ruth's ongoing frustrations. She is still pretty sharp though, and got Stuck Into The Howard Government (tm) on a few occasions, which is tantamount to a pass in this class. Notably opinionated was Mr. Brown Boatshoes, who saw fit to dedicate three expanses of classroom discussion to giving us a breakdown on how 'we can never over throw the two major parties, THERE CAN NEVER BE CHANGE!'

On the third time, when he punctuated an extraordinarily valid and highly informative point I made about compulsory voting, I gave him the sort of look-and-non-response that is sure to see him keen to remind me that 'THERE CAN NEVER BE CHANGE!' again and again through the year.

At some point, during a surprisingly animated analysis of compulsory voting, and whether of not it actually constitutes and infringement of a citizen's liberty, the exceedingly old mature aged student looks over her glasses at the young and indie tutor and says:

"Well, in America, some groups have done very well out of being able to mobilise to vote, like the Negroes."

A full seven or eight seconds of silence evaporates before the tutor replies correctively, "you mean, African Americans."

University Life Glossary Term #14


A group of students who persist with wearing an accessory laiden lanyard around their neck.

When did it become fashionable to carry your mobile, ipod, or keys around your neck - let alone your student card, photo copy card, or worst of the worst, keys to your flat on campus?

The answer is never.

Tuesday, March 7

The Fix

Second hand books are most often bought anonymously through an SRC run service, or privately via the use of pinned up adverts providing details of books available and a contact number...

Hi, (sorry for the late txt) do you still have the e-marketing txt book available? Ta, TS.

Hi TS, ive still got it. ill be at uni on thurs from 11 to 4 with a break from 1 to 2, is that convenient 4 u? - Rimmy

Yeah, out the front of the library at 1.10? I'll bring the $25 in unmarked bills in a brown paper bag!

Ha ha! Its a deal - c u then : ), is Rimmy a girl? Is Rimmy allured by The Student's overtly lame graft and corruption humour?

Stay tuned

Update: She was hot.

Sunday, March 5

University Life Glossary Term #13


The student planner.

I have never written a single thing in one of these, or taken it with me to uni past the first week of the year.

Does anyone use these?

Friday, March 3

Their Covers

Another year, (yet another class with Gary), another group assignment.

Walking to this class in scorching early March heat, I reminded myself that there was a group assignment in this subject, and that nothing more than personal proximity was going to decide who I was going to be working with. I chose a seat carefully eyeing off the people I was going to be sitting near, as the fans whirred and clicked trying to suppress the heat building in the sun blessed 3rd floor room.

This semester we have the option, should we choose to, of doing the entire 4000 word assignment that constitutes 40% of the class mark ourselves, and avoiding the group assignment torture all together.

This is akin to having the answer the question, do you want to punch yourself in the stomach once hard, or punched repeatedly by three people with varying levels of impact depending on their ability to show up to meetings, write coherently, and reply to emails?

I'd consider the prospect of producing the entire 4000 word assignment yourself to be too time consuming, and therefore not worth the effort. I'd also consider that the fact that no matter how annoying working in a group is, it beats the actual time it'd take to write out a 4000 word assignment.

Amidst a conversation going on directly behind me which involved, word for word, the statement, "I'm spending over $200 a month on muscle supplements, my missus doesn't understand," 4 or 5 people actually put their hand up and indicated to the lecturer that they were doing it on their own.

4 or 5 bad moves.

Not for the first time, I'm in a group with three girls. Considering this is a third year subject, and we've all done at least three group assignment already, there should be little room for group work bullshit - but only 14 weeks of study will tell.